The opener for the 2023 World Surf League season has concluded at the famous north shore in Hawaii with pro surfers battling unpredictable swell and shallow reef conditions on finals day of the Billabong pipe pro in memory of Andy Irons.
Carissa Moore, the five-time champion, claimed victory over Tyler Wright and Aussie Jack Robinson in his third year on the championship tour, claimed victory over Leonardo Fioravanti.
This is a milestone victory for Moore who has been a runner-up at the iconic beach break for the past two years, the Hawaiian found herself needing a score of significance to overtake Wright. Moore’s patience paid off as she was able to capitalize on a Backdoor gem, spending time behind the curtain before re-emerging to earn a near-excellent 7.17 (out of possible 10). But, Wright immediately answered back, using her forehand attack to regain the lead once again and leave Moore needing a 2.83 with just seven minutes remaining. As time dwindled, Moore was given one last opportunity, and she was able to earn a 3.83, taking the heat win and confirming her first CT Pipeline victory.
“I’m so happy, and there are just so many emotions just to get this win,” said Moore. “For the women, it’s been so many years in the making, and having us out at a crazy wave like Pipeline and just trying to spend more time has been such a process. After finishing the season like I did last year, it’s nice to come away with a win and wipe that slate clean. To win an event that’s in honour of Andy Irons is so special. He’s one of my favorite surfers of all time, and I always appreciated the time he took for me.”
In Robinsons’ heat, the famous wave kept providing unpredictable surf conditions; however, maintaining a slim lead over Leonardo heading into the back wend of their heat, Fioravanti upped the requirement with a Backdoor runner, earning a 4.00 and pushing Robinson to need a 3.51. At the 11-minute mark, Robinson turned the heat, earning a solid 6.00 with a forehand, two-turn combination. Fioravanti followed with a quick Backdoor cover-up, but only notched a 3.47.
Time expired before Fioravanti could get to his feet again, leaving Robinson to emerge victorious. This is Robinson’s first Billabong Pro Pipeline win and the fourth CT win of his career.
“I’ve dreamed of this for a long time, and Andy [Irons] was one of my favorite surfers ever, and it’s just an honor,” said Robinson. “To feel everything, all the emotions at the start of the year, you don’t know how you’re going to come back. I was feeling good, but you never know with this beast, with Pipeline. This one’s the most special. I’m super grateful for this start here in Hawaii, and I’m just getting myself ready to run that road. It was a low one last year, but I also learned a lot, and there’s no price on that.”