photos / tom carey / lugo lugo / ryan craig

This year’s Volcom Pipe Pro got better and better as the contest days went by, which is how a contest should be, right? At first, the forecast seemed dreadful and the early rounds saw local favorites just squeaking by in tricky Backdoor conditions. However, by the time the final hooter sounded and a champion was lifted on his pal’s shoulders, it had become another Volcom Pipe Pro to remember.

Maybe it’s the fact that there’s such a strong contingent of hungry Qualifying Series surfers, maybe it’s the beginning of the year that has everyone as fired up as ever, or just maybe it’s the depth of hard chargers that Volcom has on their roster [from Maui’s Imaikalani Devault, to Australian free-surf wizard Noah Deane and the newly added Pipe heavyweights of Kalani Chapman, Mikey Redd, Takayuki Wakita and Jonah Morgan]? Regardless of what it was, this Volcom Pipe Pro, like many others, brought the heat!

For this year’s event, when Pipe and Backdoor finally delivered there was no shortage of talent in the water, and more times than not waves were ridden to their full potential and beyond. Highlights from the event were abundant with guys like Mason Ho, Joan Duru and Koa Smith surfing with confidence and nailing high 9’s. There were perfect 10’s that were posted from ex-Volcom rider and Costa Rica’s Carlos Munoz as well as North Carolina’s Cam Richards. Cam would wind up being arguably the surfer of the event. His approach was fearless and full on. Not to be outdone, Jack Robinson had one of the nuttiest Backdoor waves of the entire event. He rode over a hefty foam ball section and was given a meager 9.8 with many of the commentators claiming BS. The wave was a 10. The upset of the event saw John John Florence flying all the way back from Australia to face off against wildcard Noah Deane. Noah went out and casually defeated the current World Champ and past Volcom Pipe Pro Champ, showing the world that he is a force to be reckoned with in gnarly conditions from West Oz to the North Shore.

Finals day dawned with first-reef Pipe bombs unloading, and everyone knowing it was going to be a special day. The day belonged to one guy though, and that was Josh Moniz. Josh’s performance leading into the final was a mirror image of his personality. Josh quietly made heat after heat throughout the event, at times just scratching by and doing what he needed to do to make it through. Josh has talent oozing from him and is accustomed to throwing himself over the ledge. In the final he faced Weslley Dantas, Cam Richards and arguably the world’s best at Pipeline, Jamie O’Brien. Josh got out to a solid start, but in the back half of the heat he made a major priority error, giving up a perfect ten to Jamie O’Brien. There was still time on the clock though and Josh composed himself. A Pipe wave came and in the dying minutes Josh took off, knifed it and emerged after the spit. The crowd erupted as he earned the score and a cheer from his family and friends up the beach. That night the Billabong house celebrated Josh Moniz as a humble champion who had earned the title of 2018 Volcom Pipe Pro Champion and World Qualifying Series leader at the beginning of the 2018 season. Not a bad start to 2018 Joshy, congrats!