Forty of the world’s best women’s bodyboaders got together and competed at the Pipeline Rockstar Games Presented by the Water Channel in association with Body Glove Bodyboards. Early morning conditions saw a dying north swell being quickly replaced by a rapidly growing west swell, the favorable direction of the world famous Banzai Pipeline.
The event featured many past World Champions such as Leila Alii, Daniela Freitas, Claudia Ferrari, Aoi Koike, Neymara Carvalho and Stephanie Pettersen. Joining them were newly crowned USBA Champion Roberta Bitzer, Jessica Becker fresh from her USBA win on Maui last week, the ever consistent Kira Llewellyn, Heloise Bourroux from France and Marina Taylor who was in pole position to capture her first IBA World Title.
By noon, waves were up to twelve feet (4 meters) and action hotly contested. Some memorable round two highlights were Leila Alii’s horrendous head first wipeout on a solid bomb. Alii was competing with an injured knee, made it back to the lineup and finished second behind Daniela Freitas of Brazil. The young duo Isabella Sousa and Luz Marie Grandperez of Brazil showed great tube riding skills.
Quarter-final heat two saw Marina Taylor of the Canary Islands sneak through over former World Champion Neymara Carvalho and in doing so captured her first IBA World Tour Title. Taylor has been having a good year so far with consistent results, notably a win a the Sintra Pro in Portugal.
Semi-final action saw several clashes of generations where experience paid off over youthful exuberance. Alli and Freitas used their Pipeline tube riding experience to move into the final four, eliminating the newly crowned Taylor and Grandperez. Aoi Koike, Japan’s most successful rider went head to head with Llewellyn who constantly found cleaner, higher scoring rides and also found themselves with the chance for a prestigious Pipeline Championship.
The thirty minute final coincided with the swell’s peak, providing some of the biggest and challenging surf in the events history. Alli ran out of steam from the get go and quickly bowed out, preferring medical attention. Llewellyn continued her aggressive style, found a couple clean tubes and end sections which scored to her advantage. Koike stayed close as well but couldn’t find a second high scoring ride and eventually had to settle for third place.
This left the door open for Freitas who moved into a commanding lead after finding a clean tube and roll in a critical section. The remaining ten minutes saw Mother Ocean saturate the line up with several close out sets where no one was able to find anything worthwhile. Llewellyn of Australia had to settle for a respectable runners up spot, much to Freitas’ joy and relief.
1st: Daniela Freitas
2nd: Kira Llewellyn
3rd: Aoi Koike
4th: Leila Alli