VIDEO: JJF in Day Four of the 2017 Volcom Pipe Pro

VIDEO: JJF in Day Three of the 2017 Volcom Pipe Pro

PHOTOS: Seth and JJF in Surfline’s “Soli Bailey Wins 2017 Volcom Pipe Pro”

Check out the sneak preview photos below.  Surfline always does it right with a photo book after every event with great waves!  For the entire story, check out: http://volcompipepro2.surfline.com/22/

VIDEO: Seth Moniz in Day 1 at the Volcom Pipe Pro

Story Makers of 2016: Mick Fanning’s African Rematch (via WSL)

A year after it happened, people still couldn’t get the image out of their heads. You’ve seen the clip; it broke the Internet. The one of Mick Fanning, mid-Final with Julian Wilson in the 2015 J-Bay Open getting knocked clean off his board by a curious Great White shark.

Mick Fanning is attacked by a shark during the Final of the J-Bay Open.The most frightening moment in pro surfing history. – WSL / SCREENGRAB

That frantic thrashing of arms, the frightening beast’s head piercing the surface, Mick Fanning momentarily underwater, nowhere to be seen. The jet skis flying toward Fanning, fighting for his life with a flurry of desperate punches to the giant shark’s head.

Hell, even the commentators were speechless, their fear practically audible over webcast.

Mick Fanning at the JBay Open in South Africa.Mick Fanning, a year after the great white nudge. – WSL / Kirstin Scholtz

The thing is, the comp at J-Bay was going to run again, and Mick would have to enter those same waters where the world watched him almost perish.

“The first thing was just getting out there again,” Fanning said in July, when he returned to Jeffreys Bay. Clearly Mick was being modest because the three-time World Champion not only “got back in the water,” but he tore the competition apart.

Mick’s J-Bay Redemption
Mick Fanning looked sharp during his highly anticipated return to J-Bay, grabbing a crucial Round One win.

Indeed, Mick won every single heat he had out there, dismantling event favorites like Filipe Toledo and facing off with an in-form Julian Wilson in the Semifinals (a proper rematch from last year’s terrifying Final).

As if there wasn’t a wave like J-Bay that couldn’t suit Mick’s refined lines and rail-game any better, Fanning took out John John Florence in the Final for Mick’s astounding fourth J-Bay Open win of his career. And he didn’t only do it deservedly, but he did it with a bold, ferocious determination. I mean, the guy literally got attacked by an apex predator at the same exact wave!

Mick Bags His Fourth J-Bay Open
The three-time World Champ sprinted into his fourth consecutive J-Bay Final with his textbook carves, and came away with the win.

Lucky for Mick, though, all he saw in the 2016 J-Bay Open Final was empty, rifling righthanders…with no man in a grey suit this time around.

“It’s definitely a very different feeling with this win,” said Fanning. “There was a real emotional build-up coming back here this year. That Semifinal with Julian was really special and it was wonderful to have a heat with him again. Definitely some emotions went into it paddling out and it was just really special having a surf with him out there and both of us come in safe.”

To Be Young on the North Shore: Seth Moniz leads O’Neill Wave of the Winter Breakthrough Performer Award — with one month left in event (via Surfline)

 

To say it’s been a busy late season on the North Shore would be an understatement. Pipe swell after Pipe swell, crazy barrel after crazy barrel. And while Derek and Michael Ho have been holding down the 50+ club, there have been no shortage of relative young ‘uns snagging their fair share.

Here’s why that matters: Running in tandem with the O’Neill Wave of the Winter and Clif Bar Overall Performance Award, the O’Neill Breakthrough Performer Award is in its second year. It’s a youth-driven category, celebrating the performance of a single surfer, 19 years old or younger, who rises above all other groms through sustained, standout performances along the Seven Mile Miracle from November through February. Last year, it was Jack Robinson who took the honor of the hardest-charging kid on the North Shore and $5,000 in cold, hard cash.

“This winter it’s been difficult to pinpoint a single surfer, as there is currently a real solid group of kids that have been charging on the North Shore,” said Ross Williams, Momentum Generation CT star-turned-WSL commentator and O’Neill Wave of the Winter judge. “Barron Mamiya, Seth Moniz, Finn McGill, and Crosby and Griffin Colapinto have been consistent all winter, charging every swell. And in the latest run of big Pipe, I’ve heard Russell Bierke was getting some bombs.”

Williams grew up surfing on the North Shore with a decidedly famous “New School” peer group that included Kelly Slater, Shane Dorian, Rob Machado, Benji Weatherly and Taylor Knox, all of whom were mentored by Hawaiian big-wave legends Todd Chesser and Brock Little. While they all went on to enjoy illustrious careers, Williams says there is nonetheless a big change from the time when his generation cut their teeth on the North Shore 25 years ago.

“These kids are so much more comfortable in solid waves at such a young age than we ever were,” he said. “At just 16 or 17, they’re surfing Pipe like they’re in their mid-twenties. There’s always been kids surfing Pipeline, but they were never getting the best waves of the day, let alone some of the best waves of the winter.”

Barron Mamiya was perhaps the early standout as Pipeline turned on for a few weeks in November. The 17-year-old was pushed into his first waves there six years ago by former Pipe Master Derek Ho, and since then, the North Shore local has pushed his way near the front of the heavy lineup.

“There’s a bunch of kids from here that are really starting to push it,” Mamiya told Surfline. “It’s cool to see and it’s really competitive, as all us young guys are trying to make a name for ourselves. I think Finn McGill has stood out this year, and he made the Pipeline Masters, which was huge for us. Makana Pang has been impressive, and Seth Moniz, too.”

Mamiya’s early lead for the O’Neill Breakthrough Performer Award was eclipsed by Seth Moniz, who now stands fairly firmly in the driver’s seat, with one month left to go. The 19-year-old scored a legit Wave of the Winter contender on Christmas Day at Pipe, emerging from the spit of a First Reef double-up with just one foot and one arm on the board.

“I knew I had to make that wave, as it was one of my best-ever waves at Pipe,” Moniz said. “This year, I have definitely felt more comfortable at Pipe than ever. It’s the first season I’ve been out there waiting for the sets and putting myself in position for the bombs. I’ve put my time in out there, and hopefully the guys in the lineup now know that I’m not there to sit on the shoulder.”

Moniz backed up his freesurfing with three 9-point rides in the Da Hui Backdoor Shootout to secure a 4th-place finish before playing a key role in saving legendary Pipe charger Kalani Chapman’s life.

But it isn’t the heroics, only Moniz’s surfing, that has him in the lead. He’s been on every swell since November, and it was over this 2016-17 season that he matured into one of the better surfers at both Backdoor and Pipe.

“This last swell, I looked around and there were so many guys I grew up with, plus young guys from California and Australia, and they were all charging, they all wanted it,” Seth finished. “So having this Breakthrough Award is really cool. Hopefully I get it, and hopefully next year I can get the Wave of the Winter.”

And while Moniz is in the lead, there’s still 30 days to go before the official event period ends — and god knows what can happen at Pipeline in a month. Stay tuned.