As we get into the business end of the 2017 Volcom Pipe Pro, let's take a quick look back at the 2016 event. The waves were all-time, as they tend to be, and Kelly Slater won, as he tends to do. However, ask any local, and one specific memory of the event burns far brighter. It's the lasting image of Makai McNamara diving headfirst into the flats, freefalling from the sky during a final against three of the biggest names in Pipe Pro history.
His road to that moment is still the talk of the town, almost a year later. McNamara, one of the North Shore's favorite sons, put in a performance for the ages.
After a controversial interference call in the semis, McNamara fought his way out of the corner by dropping a flawless perfect 10, making quite a statement in the process. It remains the only 10 he's received in his career, and it earned him his spot in the final.
So it was at the Volcom Pipe Pro, in some of the best competitive conditions we've ever seen on the North Shore, that the young local pro saw himself matched up against Bruce Irons, John John Florence and Kelly Slater.
He had five minutes between heats, so he found his dad, Liam, on the beach for some fatherly wisdom. "My dad said, 'you got Bruce Irons and Kelly Slater in the final, lets do this,'" said McNamara. "So I ate a tangerine, and then I threw it up."
My dad said, ‘You got Bruce Irons and Kelly Slater in the final, let’s do this’. So I ate a tangerine, and then I threw it upMakai McNamara
His performance in that final was as storybook as his run through the comp to get there – he was first to strike, carrying his momentum in from the semi, and he seemed to know he needed to push himself deeper than the vets he was surfing against to separate himself from that pack of Pipe royalty. His wipeout will go down as the heaviest of the event's history, and, as he sprinted down the beach after breaking his board, the people's champ of the 2016 Pipe Pro was officially crowned.
McNamara finished third, though he admits that for the weeks after, and still to this day at times, local friends and family still congratulate him on winning the whole damn thing. McNamara, as humble as they come, is always quick to correct, but he's sure to remind them to keep an eye on him in 2017.