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Christmas Comes Early for John John Florence and Moana Wong With Wins at the HIC Pipe Pro

While the North Shore has quieted down for Christmas, joining the rest of us in taking a holiday and providing very little to get anxious about on the current forecast, last week was pumping—and just in time for the HIC Pipe Pro, which was a qualifier both for the Pipe Masters and the 2022 Challenger Series.

The entire population of the North Shore had been watching the forecast for the past 10 days, with the first properly NW swell of the season telegraphed for over a week by just about every swell model and surf forecast in existent. But the swell ultimately ended up surprising just about everyone, as it came in much larger than the forecasted 5.7 feet at 15 seconds. Of course, we can’t know exactly how big it was, because the Waimea buoy went down a few days before the swell hit. But based on the numbers on Buoy 51101 (which is located 175 miles northwest of Kauai and peaked at around 9 feet at 17 seconds, Oahu saw some legit numbers during this pre-Christmas swell.

How legit? Well Sunset was pushing 8-10 foot on the sets during the evening session as the swell filled it, and Pipe turned on for the last contest of the year—which ended up being a doozy. Ranging from 4 to 8 foot, Pipe was pretty close to perfect for the first time all season, pumping during the event and in the freesurfs each evening after the last horn had sounded. While there were a number of exciting rides logged by the local crew throughout the week, most of the excitement was reserved for the event, which was the first time we’ve seen a high-quality contest at Pipe in quite some time.

If any doubts remained about the status of John John’s knee after his second reconstructive surgery this past season, they were put to rest when he handily won his second event in a row (and in the past two weeks, we might add). After taking out the Haleiwa event in wooly, wonky conditions during the previous swell, John John was probably pretty stoked to be competing in perfect waves this week at Pipe—especially when he got to compete against his brother Ivan in not just one heat, but three!

While John John was the dominant surfer throughout the event, it was Ivan who nabbed the perfect 10 ride in their quarterfinal heat, with John John claiming the wave for him while paddling back out and taking the lip straight to the head. Ivan and John John both progressed to the semis, where they once again squared off and put on a dominant Florence tag-team performance, eliminating Kalani David and Eli Hanneman on their way to the finals.

In the finals of the event, it was all John John, who threaded the best tubes of the heat to hold off second-place finisher Barron Mamiya, brother Ivan (in third) and Kainehe Hunt (in fourth). "It feels so amazing just to win this event, especially after Haleiwa too," said Florence. "Coming into this event, I was actually a little bit nervous. There's a lot of really good surfers in this event. But it was fun to get back into the rhythm and be competing out here again and getting ready for what's to come in the next few months. I was really stoked. It was a great final. And to win like that is always really fun.”


On the women’s side of the event, it was local girl Moana Wong who took home the hardware, winning out over Brisa Hennessy, Gabriela Bryan, and Brianna Cope. Moana had competed in the event since she was 12 and always dreamt of winning, so to finally take home the trophy was a huge accomplishment for her. Meanwhile, Brisa and Gabriela both recently qualified for the 2022 world tour, which will kick off in Hawaii in January.


Now that the qualifying season is over, the focus is quickly turning to the world tour, which will start with yet another contest at Pipeline. After their performances in the HIC Pipe Pro, you’d have to think that Brisa and Gabriela are favorites to start the year strong, alongside Carissa Moore, who has a proven track record both at Pipe and on the world tour in general. Meanwhile, on the men’s side, there’s no denying John John’s current momentum, not to mention his history as arguably the best surfer at Pipe over the past 10 years. If Florence isn’t in the leader’s spot when the tour leaves Hawaii, it will be a big surprise for everyone.

Things are going pretty quiet over the Christmas/New Year’s holiday week, with a number of small NW swells overlapping with a large NE swell and strong trades. That being said, there will be more than enough waves for us all to get our fill, so ask Santa for a couple hours of light wind and get out there!

Mele Kalikimaka!

Merry Christmas 2021