While none are Pipe Pro champions (yet), indeed, all are Pipe specialists.
Maybe “underdog” isn’t the best word. ‘Cause year after year, every one of the following guys is a threat, consistently bagging magazine spreads, and covers, straight outta Pipeline.
Sure, guys like John John Florence, Jamie O’Brien and the Irons bros. have always been favored contenders (usually winners), but there’s still a dozen-plus guys and locals that could give even John a run for his money when Pipe is at its heaviest.
Could it finally be one of these following mens’ trophy year? I definitely wouldn’t dismiss the idea…
1. Tamayo Perry:
While not in the spotlight nearly as much as he was in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, during that time, Tamayo would get waves of the winter on the reg. He was -- and still is -- Mr. Second Reef Pipe. Not too mention that he’s had an ongoing relationship with the wave for far longer than most boys in the comp, he will use this intimate wisdom to his advantage. If the surf goes just Backdoor, however, then maybe that might change things.
2. Torrey Meister:
Still fresh off the high of a new sponsorship with O’neill, Big Island’s Torrey Meister has been on fire lately. A regular out at big Backdoor and no stranger to Pipe’s moods and flavors, Torrey’s out to collect ‘QS points and scalps this season. While not commonly known as a certified “Pipe Guy,” this year he’s got the drive, backing and sheer skill to prove it.
3. Reef McIntosh:
How Kauai’s Reef McIntosh hasn’t won either a Pipe Masters or Volcom Pipe Pro by now is boggling. When Pipe or Backdoor are at their finest -- so is Reef. Even Bruce and Andy Irons would toot Reef’s horn, claiming him as one of the best exports in big tubing surf outta Kauai. No stranger to competing at the wave, and with more experience out there then most on that long roster of (gnarly) groms, expect Reef to advance.
4. Anthony Walsh:
This Australian turned North Shore local is no one to eff with. A consistent coverboy and Pipe photo-surfer, Walshy is deadly when the lefts are maxing. Why just last year, as a Billabong Tahiti Pro trialist he dropped a perfect 10 in his first heat. Expect that same type of gusto in the coming days.
5. Mason Ho: Definitely a wildcard out of the bunch, but still no stranger to macking Pipeline, local favorite Mason aims to please. Spawned from the blood of past Pipe victors like father Michael and Uncle Derek, Mason has developed his own throwback-new school style out at Pipe. He could be on a 5’9” if it’s 10 feet, or maybe a vintage 9’0” gun if it’s a hair bigger. Regardless, Mason will be charging, getting the scores and you will not be able to take your eyes off him. (Watch for the head-dips.)