5 Buzzer Beaters from a Decade of Pro Surfing
Good, Kelly Slater has done it again. He won the Billabong Pipeline Pro (née Pipe Masters) in classic Slaterian form: getting the wave of the day in the dying seconds of a heat. It’s weird, isn’t it? How often does this seem to happen to him? As if he has some kind of magnet that attracts the wave he needs exactly when he needs it. That’s the thing about surfing – you could be the best surfer in the world, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t get the waves you need. And Kelly gets the waves he needs when he needs them more often than anyone else. Sure, he’s approaching 50 now and he’s ridden more rounds than most, so the law of averages kicks in, but still…it’s weird. Is there anything more exciting in professional surfing than a buzzer beater? May be. But they’re pretty exciting, so here are five buzzers from the past few years.
1. Kelly Slater, Pipeline.
Slater’s most recent buzzer beater came with just ten seconds to fire Pipeline. Slater needed a 7.18 to win against Barron Mamiya. The horizon darkens. He paddled nonchalantly, disappeared under the hood, planted himself as far into the barrel as possible, then emerged triumphant, arms outstretched. It was clear to anyone watching that he got the score, and the judges agreed. A 9.23 appeared and the GOAT won Pipe again.
2. Adriano de Souza, Teahupo’o, round of 16, 5th round.
Adriano de Souza, owner of an oft-forgotten world title in 2015, is no stranger to doing what it takes to win. His whole career has been about grinding. Starting out famous with a $7 surfboard and working his way up the professional surfing ladder until he reached the top in 2015. In 2019 in Tahiti he took on Italo Ferreira. With two minutes left on the clock, ADS needed an 8.14 to advance. He penetrated the deepest barrel of the event and was rewarded with a 9.17 for his effort.
3. Zeke Lau, Sunset Beach, quarterfinals, round 1.
Zeke Lau’s surf is made for Sunset Beach. He’s a Hawaiian power surfer, through and through, and there’s no wave like Sunset where power surfing comes in. It was a big one for Lau – his dream, of course, was to make it to CT, and this win solidified that dream. With just under two minutes remaining, he had priority. A set came and Zeke needed a 5.55. It was a close call – just a 5.74 – but it was good enough.
4. Miguel Pupo, Fiji, Round 1, Round 5.
The first round is important to win. On a semi-dull day in Fiji, Miguel Pupo came up against Italo Ferreira and Alex Ribeiro, two very tough surfers to face. In the last seconds Ribeiro was combined, so it was down to Ferreira and Pupo. Ferreira was in the lead, but an 8.10 on Pupo’s scorecard would send him on lap 3. He just passed with an 8.23, but hey…everything works, right?
5. Kelly Slater, trestles, round 5, round 4.
We’ll end with another one from Slater. It was in 2014 at the Hurley Pro Trestles. On a classically sunny California day, Slater came across Taj Burrow. If Slater lost, he would be out, and a round against Burrow is never easy to win, even for Slater. Burrow had priority with 30 seconds on the clock and could have played the match a little better. A set went by, Burrow ducked under the cap and Kelly took off. He needed a 7.23 and you wouldn’t know? He got it.