Michel Bourez surprised many by winning this year’s Billabong Pipe Masters. While the big expectations were on competitors like Kelly Slater and John John Florence, the Tahitian won most of the heats he surfed in, even taking down John Florence in the quarterfinals.
Florence had been aiming for his first Pipe Masters win, a hope that was dashed when Bourez rode tube after Backdoor tube to earn scores of 7.7, 8.77 and 8.43. Bourez said later that he had been trying to keep calm during the heat, knowing the World Champion could easily turn a good wave to his competitive advantage.
The semi finals matched Bourez against USA’s Kolohe Andino. Both surfers put in a good performance, but Bourez came out on top with a 15.37 beside Andino’s 13.93.
The final heat was a somewhat slow one, with Michel surfing against rookie Kanoa Igarashi. Igarashi had made a great showing throughout the competition, even besting Kelly Slater in the semifinals. But Bourez hit his stride early and won the heat with a 7.53 score against Igarashi’s 6.17.
Bourez’s standout surfing not just won him the Pipe Masters but also placed him among the few who have won at all three events in the Triple Crown.