Michel Bourez hasn’t seen the podium since Rio in 2014, and the Pipe Masters is as apt as any place for a resurgence for the Tahitian. The win over Hawaii’s new favourite Californian, Kanoa Igarashi – who with his semifinal win over Jordy Smith granted Zeke Lau a spot in the big dance – comes as a lovely ending to a decent year for Michel, who’s best finish was a fifth place at Bells early in the season. The final started slow, and by the time the first ten minutes past, Michel sat with a .5. But he stayed active while Kanoa didn’t have much materialise.
I still don’t believe it because we had the worst final I’ve ever had. After all the boring finals we’ve watched this year, Pipe takes the accolade of the biggest yawn. Said Michel post win.
The win today is the best result of the season for Michel and only the second time that the Tahitian has made it into the final series this year. Victory today also marks the third CT victory of his career.
Bourez, who previously dispatched Kolohe Andino (USA), John John Florence (HAW) and Filipe Toledo (BRA) before taking on Igarashi in the Final, can add a win at Pipeline to previous wins at Haleiwa and Sunset. Only Derek Ho and Andy Irons have also achieved this feat.
John [Florence] is incredible. I’ve lost the Triple Crown twice because of him so that was a little payback. I knew I had to push my level even higher to beat John so that’s what I did. We had such a good day today – Backdoor was pumping and I’m stoked. This is the biggest event to win for a surfer and I did it! Said Bourez!
The Final match-up saw slower conditions but a dramatic finish, as Bourez took the win over Igarashi by only 1.36 points. Bourez was quick to post scores and settled for a 5.00 early in the heat. Igarashi waited until the five minute warning to make his first move, a combination maneuver for a 4.17. With Bourez holding priority, Igarashi snuck in a 2.00 barrel ride in the dying minutes of the heat. Bourez secured his win with a 2.53 at the buzzer, leaving no time for Igarashi to respond.
This is a dream come true. To be in that Final with Michel [Bourez] was really cool. It is something I will never forget. The one moment that really stands out to me is in the Semifinals with Kelly [Slater]. I kind of rubbed the heat off and he was in his rhythm. A big set came in that closed out everywhere and I thought that was going to be my last chance. Right at the end, this crazy wave out of nowhere came in. I laughed because I did not believe it. I stalled as hard as I could and once I came out I fell into shock. I am really proud of myself and cannot wait for next year. Said Igarashi.
The world’s best surfers will return in 2017 with the kick-off event on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia in March.
More information available at worldsurfleague.com
Billabong Pipe Masters Final Results:
1: Michel Bourez (PYF) 7.53
2: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 6.17
Billabong Pipe Masters Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Michel Bourez (PYF) 15.37 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.93
SF 2: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 15.50 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 15.00