Jono Bruce wins the WQT Pipe '04 event
posted on 15th January 2004
Early on the morning of Monday 12 January, Day 8 of the 10 day window, organisers were quick to make a decision to conclude the IBA Regional World Qualifying Tour Event. After checking the swell and wind forecasts, Technical Director Derek Hulme consulted with Head Judge Bruno Augusto to confirm this would be the best day of the last 3, despite the early morning conditions being average at best with a 4-5 foot swell and sideshore winds greeting the eager competitors.
Round 3 riders were due to test the surf with WST riders Jeff Hubbard, Jason Hazle, Mitch Rawlins, Grahame Miller, Alistair Taylor, Cedric Dufaure, Beau Day, Josh Kirkman, Paulo Barcellos and Nicolas Capdeville backing up from the Supertour Event the previous day in search of some much-needed WQT points. Standouts for the round included Mitch Rawlins, Dave Winchester and Jono Bruce from Australia, Sasha Specker from South Africa and Luis Villar from Brazil who all showed true bodyboarding skills and most importantly perseverance in the testing conditions.
Quarter Finals featured riders from Australia, Hawaii, Spain, South Africa, Japan, France and Brazil all keen to leave their mark on the event. Yoshitada Kondo was the first ever Japanese competitor to make the ¼ Finals of a Men's Pipe Event. Miraculously conditions began to improve with some clean waves hitting the reef at both Backdoor and Pipe, much to the pleasure of the crowd on the beach. In the first ¼ Final Jeff Hubbard and Mitch Rawlins took turns at Backdoor putting on an airshow for the masses, easily progressing into the semi-finals. In the second ¼ Final Sash Specker busted some insane Backdoor sections like a man possessed to move through with Jono Bruce. Quarter Final 3 was contolled by Dave Winchester, with Cedric Dufaure also progressing. Quarter Final 4 saw young Brazilian hotshot Luis Gustavo Villar and Josh Kirkman battle it out in the barrels at Pipeline, with Villar coming out in front when the bell tolled.
Conditions for the semi-finals grew progressively more favourable for the riders remaining in the competition. Jono Bruce asserted his presence in the first semi over Hawaii's Jeff Hubbard in his pursuit of a final's berth, leaving Mitch Rawlins and Sasha Specker in their wake. Dave Winchester and Josh Kirkman looked as though they were having their own private competition in Semi-Final 2, seeing who could clock up the most time inside Pipeline's perfect pits. Dave Winchester's stopwatch must have had more time on it than Josh's, finishing ahead of him, with Luis Villar and Cedric Dufaure filling the minor places .A visiting Sports Illustrated photographer commented to contest organisers that he was lucky to see and photograph two of the best barrels of the competition in this semi.
Between the semi-finals and the final, four of the World's best female bodyboarders, Aoi Koike, Miku Nakamura, Ayako Ide and Chigusa Nishiyama, all from Japan, were delighted to score some nice Pipe and Backdoor waves in and IBA Women's World Tour expression session.
As the final, which had 3 Aussies and one Hawaiian, hit the water, the waves decided to take a rest. Luckily the Judges were only asking for the Top 2 waves in the 30 minutes. Competitors thought it would be easy to satisfy the Judge's requirements…or so they thought.
Josh Kirkman began the heat with a clean invert off a medium-sized Backdoor section, then finding a big enough break in the swell to get back out to the peak to join the others before they could start their wave counts. Jono Bruce then replied with an even bigger invert at Backdoor off a set wave which had the judges smiling and their pens accordingly doing the talking. A large lull then took over the final with Winchester and Hubbard scratching for whatever they could find. Kirkman then got another invert off a large backdoor section. Following that wave it was obviously a two horse race with Josh just in front coming into the dying seconds of the final. Victory was possibly snatched from him as Jono stroked into one last wave at Pipe and proceeded to work it all the way into "Gums" with a roll out the back, followed by a few spins and a backflip on the inside. After that wave the result was in the balance leaving the crowd on the beach divided in their opinion as to who had won.
1. Jono Bruce
2. Josh Kirkman
3. Jeff Hubbard
4. Dave Winchester
In accepting his award Jono dedicated his victory to Paul Jennar from Australia, a young photographer tragically killed the previous night in a car accident.