Huntington Beach’s Igarashi uses Slater board to beat Slater and finish third

Huntington Beach’s Igarashi uses Slater board to beat Slater and finish third
Huntington Beach surfer Kanoa Igarashi tucks in under the lip during his Round 4 heat victory over Kelly Slater and Leonardo Fioravanti in the Billabong Pipe Masters at the Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu on Monday. (Courtesy of Damien Poullenot / World Surf League)

Kelly Slater might not have much of a competitive surfing career left in him, but he is as present as ever in the surfing world.

He has his wave pool at the Kelly Slater Surf Ranch, set to host a Championship Tour event next year. And among his business ventures is his clothing line “Outerknown,” which can be found in retail outlets worldwide.

But Huntington Beach’s Kanoa Igarashi might have made the 11-time world champ regret his decision to design surfboards, if only for a little while.

Igarashi and Slater were competing along with Leonardo Fioravanti in Round 4 of the Billabong Pipe Masters at the Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu on Monday.

Igarashi not only won the heat, he won it riding a Slater-designed surfboard. And Igarashi’s heat-winning ride came when Slater had priority, but was too deep and failed to catch the wave. Instead, Igarashi caught it, and rode it to an 8.17 score that won the heat.

“I saw that he was a little too far out, but I thought he was going to kick into it,” Igarashi said on the World Surf League broadcast. “But it was one that kind of sucked up and drew in further on the reef, and it kind of just fell into my lap.

“He’s a God out there, and if he wanted that wave that means it was a good one, so I’m definitely going.”

And the board?

“It’s hilarious,” Igarashi said of the Kelly Slater Semi-Pro model. “I had it twice last year and I got lucky and got him (beat him) twice. And today, I grabbed this board, it’s a board he designed when he was at Channel Islands. Obviously, he knows what he’s doing out here so I tried to take the vibe that he had. It’s such a magic board, it’s a copy of the one I had last year.”

Ah yes, last year. Igarashi reached the final heat at the Pipe Masters last year, losing to Michel Bourez and placing second, his best finish in his rookie year on the CT.

He had a chance to repeat his performance, or even surpass it, when his win over Slater and Fioravanti put him in the quarterfinals. In the quarters, he pulled into a barrel with just more than three minutes remaining in the heat, posting a 7.67 and beating Italo Ferreira to reach the semis.

But in the semis, Jeremy Flores scored a 9.37 early in the heat and rode it to a victory over Igarashi, who finished an equal third. Igarashi finished the CT season ranked No. 17 in the world.

Flores then went on to beat John John Florence in the finals, throwing up an 8.33 as the horn sounded to win the event. Florence, though, clinched the world championship earlier in the day, his second world title in a row.

The Pipe Masters also was the third and final leg of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing — the Hawaiian Pro and Vans World Cup of Surfing serving as the first two contests.

San Clemente’s Griffin Colapinto reached the final heat in the first two contests, and even though he didn’t compete in the Pipe Masters, it was enough to become the first Californian ever to win the Triple Crown.

Colapinto, 19, and Patrick Gudauskas both qualified for the CT next season, joining Igarashi, Kolohe Andino (San Clemente) and Conner Coffin (Santa Barbara) as the only Californians on the CT.

Olympic format

With surfing being added as an Olympic sport for the Summer Games in Japan in 2020, there was a lot of speculation as to how surfers would qualify, and how many would qualify.

Wednesday we got some answers, when the International Surfing Assn. and World Surf League announced how it’s going to work:

There will be 40 surfers, both men and women, that will qualify for the Games. Eighteen of those (10 men and eight women) will go to WSL Championship Tour surfers, with 20 spots being determined by results at the 2019 and 2020 ISA World Surfing Games, and the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima. The remaining two spots will be one man and one woman from host nation Japan.

The agreement is subject to the approval of the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee at its meeting in Feb. 2018.

Presumably — and I’m still checking on this — it means that there will not necessarily be an equal number of surfers per country. We could see more Aussies, Brazilians and Americans (Hawaiians included) on the Olympic heat sheets than, say, Icelanders.

Uh-oh, San O

Props to Huntington resident Don Ramsey, who has been spreading the word on social media about something surfers should be very afraid of.

Southern California Edison is scheduled this month to move 3.6 million pounds of highly-radioactive spent nuclear fuel rods — currently in cooling pools at the now decommissioned San Onofre nuclear plant — into dry-cask storage, meaning the fuel rods would be put into sealed steel tubes and encased in concrete onsite at the San Onofre plant.

Considering the plant is near an earthquake fault line and on the coast, many are worried it’s a catastrophic disaster waiting to happen. All of the angst could have been avoided if not for some political misdoings.

Edison would not have had to keep the fuel rods on site if not for former Nevada senator Harry Reid and the Obama administration. The nuclear waste initially was supposed to be moved to a remote area of Nevada, where a permanent storage facility for all the nation’s spent fuel from commercial power plants was being built — called the Yucca Mountain project.

But after billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money was spent on construction of the facility, Reid, the Senate Majority Leader at the time, helped influence the Obama administration in 2010 to pull permits on the project, halting construction. It now sits fenced off and vacant, billions of dollars wasted.

Ramsey has posted numerous YouTube videos and stories from a variety of websites to help spread the word, and to offer ways to speak out on the issue. Here is one of the videos:

Edison surfers win regular season

My column earlier this month recognized the Huntington Beach High surf team for winning the Sunset Surfing League championships — called the “All-Stars” — held at the Huntington Beach Pier on Dec. 6.

That contest included all four teams in the Sunset League — Huntington, Edison, Marina and Fountain Valley — competing against each other.

The four teams also held head-to-head contests throughout the fall, with Edison coming out on top with only one loss, winning the regular season title.

JOE HAAKENSON is a Huntington Beach-based sports writer and editor. He may be reached at


Dec. 21, 1:05 p.m.: This article was updated with information on the organization the photographer shot the photo for in Hawaii.

This article was originally published on Dec. 20 at 8:30 p.m.