Here Are Our Pipe Masters Picks
1. Mick Fanning
The man, the myth, the legend. After an action-packed year in the water and still sitting in the first and prime position on the World Tour ladder, Fanning no doubt has high hopes in securing his fourth World Title at Oahu’s infamous Banzai Pipeline. Although he has expressed his dominance in the line-up over the many years travelling the North Shore, he in fact has never won the event, and will use this as a motivational tool to fill the hunger and bring home the crown to add to list of incredible achievements over his career. With three wins on tour locked under his belt this year alone, there is no better place to secure a fourth and finish the year as Pipeline and World Champion.
2. Matt Wilkinson
An underdog, sure, but Matt Wilkinson is no stranger to the challenges of Pipe. He’s the kind of surfer that says he’s over surfing big, scary waves and will then go out, paddle into a monster and get the best barrel of the day. The Australian’s fun loving attitude spawns through to his surfing in every session, and once combined with his skills to navigate the barrel and tear apart the open face, Wilko is an unstoppable force that threatens every other competitor.
3. Gabriel Medina
The reigning World Champion and one face of the ‘Brazilian Storm’ crew, Gabriel Medina has had a crazy two years in the water. After winning the Title and finishing runner up to Julian Wilson at last year’s Pipeline Masters, Gabe started the 2015 on struggle street, before exploding at several contests throughout the year which have resulted in at shot at the Title once again. He’s shown he can tear apart and get barreled just as well as some of the best guys out there, and with an army of his fellow countrymen on his back, he’ll be looking to push the boundaries again this year and keep the title in Brazil.
4. John John Florence
John John’s house is literally right in front of Pipeline, which in turn has resulted in countless hours spent dominating both the Pipeline and Backdoor line-ups. On the best of days he’ll be out there at first light, and on the average days, well… he’ll be out there at first light too. Florence has had some rather unfortunate mediocre results through the year, but with the recent release of his very own feature film ‘View From A Blue Moon’, the standards and hunger to prove himself at his home break have never been higher. After placing 5th in last year’s event, John John will be looking to secure his name alongside the previous list of Pipeline Masters, and will use his local knowledge to pick out some serious gems to do so.
5. Joel Parkinson
Parko is no stranger to the North Shore. Yes, he may be from one of the most well-known right hand point breaks in the world, but don’t let that cloud his skills at Pipe. He’s proven himself at some of the world’s most challenging contests and has conquered finals in both pumping or challenging conditions. He won the event in 2012, and will be looking for another chance to bring surfing’s most prominent victory back to Australian shores.
6. Taj Burrow
The West Oz guru has been making the trek to the North Shore too many times to count over his 18 year surfing career, helping build up a library worth of knowledge at many of the strips best line ups, including Pipeline itself. He was unable to compete in the 2014 event due to injury, meaning the fire in his belly will be burning more than ever to throw himself at anything worthy of an unforgettable barrel for both the judging panel and the spectators tuning in from all around the world. Eager to finish the year with the best position possible, Taj is one surfer to watch patiently and wait for his bag of tricks to explode into the limelight.
7. Dusty Payne
Maui local and force of dominance, Mr. Dusty Payne proved to the world how good he can surf after officially bursting back onto the scene after a few years hiatus with a standout win at last year’s Haleiwa contest. The man has come back from a list of unfortunate injuries, and now on the World Tour once again and with the final event of the 2015 season on his home turf, he’s undeniably ready to do it for the Hawaiians and keep the win on the island of Oahu.
8. Julian Wilson
2014 event Champion and official Pipeline Master, Julian Wilson has had one hell of a year, with countless results in the top 5 spots at many of the most challenging events. The young gun from the Sunshine Coast is known for his expressive display of barrel riding and incredible game both on the rail and in the air, offering a variety of advantages leading into the World Tour’s eleventh and final event for the year. Becoming a back to back Pipeline Masters Champion is a rare thing to see, but if one man has a good shot, it’s Julian.
*Imagery by WSL & ESPN