Adriano De Souza
It’d been a longtime coming. Parko’s world title, that is. And after a tumultuous year on tour—a year without Parko’s dear friend Andy Irons, who’d passed away the year prior—Parko had put everything on the line that year to stay in the top spot. And then it happened…Shortly before the final, Parko solidified his world title in an emotional moment from the Billabong house he once shared with Andy overlooking Pipeline. He of course went on to surf the final and won the 2012 Pipe Masters, the cherry on the sundae to a truly climactic year.
With an illustrious world tour career of a whole lotta second place finishes, the lightening quick, West Oz perma-grom, Taj Burrow, was becoming quite the bridesmaid to the likes of Slater and A.I. in terms of results. But in 2009, in the same old stacked heats of the Dream Tour at the Pipe Masters, Taj was bridesmaid-no-more. Surfing strong and smart every single round of the event, Taj met Slater in the 2009 final where he wouldn’t let King Kelly have another day.
2005 & 2006
If there’s any edge in home-court advantage, then 2004 Pipe Master and local boy Jamie O’Brien surely has that gain…the kid lives 100 steps from the wave. But let’s not lessen his devotion or sheer brilliance at Pipe—the guy’s broken both legs at the place, among other bones there, and to this day, continues to be one of THE best ever out at Pipe at any size. With a supernatural sense for the break, J.O.B. uses every inch of his body out there, sometimes more of it on the wave than his actual board, and in 2004, the then 21 year old wildcard took out every heavy-hitter on the CT to stake his claim at his homebreak.
2002 & 2003
Yeah, you just read that right: Kauai’s finest and 3X world champ, Andy Irons, won a whopping fourPipe Masters in just five years between 2002 and 2006. Defeating the modern Pipe greats, from Kelly to J.O.B to his own brother Bruce, year after year, Andy was virtually unbeatable at the world’s deadliest arena. But even more stunning, was how Andy won with pure fearlessness and grit, throwing himself over the ledge (both ways) deeper and later than anyone. Most memorable was a terrifying over-the-falls backward wipeout on a 10-footer he couldn’t quite scrape into. And then of course coming up smiling, throwing the crowd a shaka. Classic A.I.
1994, 1995 & 1996
While 11X world champion and 7X Pipe Master, Kelly Slater, is unequivocally the greatest surfer our sport has ever known, it is truly at Pipeline where we see his genius at its best. No matter the size or ferociousness out there, King Kelly taught every regular-footer how to pig-dog behind the peak, how to no-hand pump through sections, hell, even how to switch stance (in the tube!?!). And then of course there were all those epic Pipe Masters battles he conducted. The ones between him and Machado, him and Andy, him and John John…the man’s a Master in every sense of the word at Pipe and, yeah, he’s still got it.
1990 & 1991
Among Pipe Masters, usually there are those that have an indescribable connection with the wave and there are those that have an extremely good week during the event. And then there’s 3X winner Tom Carroll, who throughout the 80s and 90s, charged Pipeline (and any wave, for that matter) with such an uncompromisingly aggressive approach, that his antics verged on superhuman. Short, stocky, wild and helmet-ed, T.C. sat steep, deep and threw himself over any ledge he could stroke into. One truly unforgettable moment where he won in 1991 was when he laid it on a rail mid-face under the lip….something NOBODY was doing at the time, let alone in a heat.
A true modern-day icon of our sport, 1999 world champ, Mark “Occy” Occhilupo, was a tender 18-years-old when he won the 1985 Pipe Masters. After barely two years on tour and chasing fellow stocky, Aussie goofyfooter Tom Carroll in the ratings, Occy’s relentless, powerful approach in waves of any size pushed him through the experienced list of world tour surfers to conquer the event. Indeed, an astounding triumph for the time, as well as today.
In the late-70s, the twin-fin had revolutionized shortboarding, but some, like Aussie regularfoot Simon Anderson, found the boards to be too loose—especially in waves of consequence like Pipeline. Thus, in 1981, Simon innovated his own boards by shortening the side fins and adding a center back fin, dubbing this setup The Thruster. He’d go on to win back-to-back events that year and, of course, win the Pipe Masters on his new invention, forever changing surfboards (and surfing) in the process.
1978 & 1979
1977 & 1976
1972 & 1973
It’s hard to say how Pipeline was ridden before Gerry Lopez other than a man hanging on for dear life through one of the roundest waves on earth. Indeed, it was Gerry, a lean Hawaiian goofyfooter, who finally brought a true element of style and artistry to surfing Pipe. Gerry’s timing, bravado, sheer mastery and iconic soul arch beneath Pipe’s thundering lip is to this day a thing that modern icons replicate at the wave. A 2X Pipe Master and living legend in our sport, no one’s ever approached the wave quite like the man aptly nicknamed "Mr. Pipeline."