Orange County surfers battle at Pipeline
BANZAI PIPELINE, HAWAII – Two Orange County surfers battled it out at the world famous surf break on Sunday, but both came out winners in the larger mathematical battle on land to win a spot on the coveted Championship World Tour in 2013.
Kolohe Andino of San Clemente and Brett Simpson of Huntington Beach faced each other in what announcers dubbed "The Battle of California" at the $450,000 Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons. Andino, 18, comfortably won the head-to-head exchange between the two top-ranked Orange County surfers, outscoring Simpson 9.47-3.83. Judges award points on a 1 to 10 scale for each wave. Each surfer's top two waves are combined for a final score. Andino advanced to Round 3, where he was eliminated later in the day by Gabriel Medina of Brazil.
As Andino and Simpson were competing in the water, onshore mathematics overshadowed the competition as it was announced that Sebastien Zeitz of Kauai had won the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, a specialty event that combines the Pipe Masters competition with earlier contests at Sunset Beach and Haleiwa. Zeitz became only the second non-World Tour surfer to win the Triple Crown in 30 years.
Andino won the Orange County showdown during a 40-minute heat in irregular surf that would churn up 8-foot high waves at times but also went several minutes with no swells at all. An early 7.51 scored by Andino pressured Simpson to find a wave that could generate a high score. Simpson took off on a few waves that closed out, burying him in a wall of water.
While Simpson was losing in the ocean, he was winning on land. In a sometimes controversial and confusing ranking system, the top 34 surfers on the top World Tour circuit are chosen through a combination of World Tour rankings and overall pro surfing rankings that include non-World Tour contests. Andino already had secured a position on the 2013 tour. Simpson was reasonably secure, there were scenarios that could have knocked him off if lower-ranked surfers scored surprisingly well at Pipeline. But as the second day wore on, challengers were eliminated.
"Brett Simpson has secured his position on the World Tour for next year no matter what," said Bobby Shadley, spokesman for the Association of Surfing Professionals. "There aren't enough people to overtake him that he wouldn't requalify."
Patrick Gudauskas of San Clemente, who lost his opening heat Saturday, will not requalify, Shadley said. He will have to compete on the second-tier professional circuit.
The Pipe Masters competition continues Monday.
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