Rising Aussie surf star Jack Robinson declared he’s “getting his legs ready” for a world title push after seizing the fourth win of his young career at the Billabong Pro Pipeline in Hawaii.
Robinson, starting just his third season on the World Surf League Championship Tour, took down Italian Leonardo Fioravanti in the final in tricky conditions at the famed Banzai Pipeline to become the new world No.1.
The 25-year-old West Australian’s win came after fellow Aussie Tyler Wright missed a last-gasp wave as the clock ticked down in the her final showdown with five-time world champion Carissa Moore to fall short of a season-opening victory.
Robinson seized the lead inside the last 10 minutes of his clash with Fioravanti, who was in his first WSL final, as both surfers struggled to find decent waves. The pair were in constant paddle battles in a bit to get priority, adding an extra element of intensity to the showdown between two rising stars.
An incomplete wave with three minutes to go from Robinson opened the door for his opponent who needed a 5.18 to take the lead. But as the clocked ticked down to zero in the 40-minute final, the Italian couldn’t find a suitable wave and Robinson celebrated his win.
Robinson said it was the perfect way to start his push for a world title, knowing it’s a long season ahead of him.
“It’s going to be a long road but I am just getting the legs ready to run that road,” he said.
“It’s special, I dreamed of this for a long time.”
“Start of the year, you don’t know how you are going to come back. I was feeling good, but you never know. What a way to start it.
“I’m so grateful, every time I was paddling out there, this wave has hurt me, but this wave has given me a lot of good things too. I’m just super grateful to be in one piece, to live in the moment and just do it.”
Robinson had earlier taken out hometown hope John John Florence en route to the final and had to overcome a board change in his semi-final, after the fin box was damaged on the reef, to advance to the decider.
Earlier Wright, after conceding the lead to Moore late in their final showdown, tried to catch her last wave with 35 seconds left but didn’t even get to her feet, leaving the Hawaiian to celebrate her victory.
Moore turned the tables on Wright, who won their clash in the final at Bells Beach in 2022, which was the last time the Australian has tasted victory in a World Surf League event.
Despite the loss in the final, Wright said she was “proud” of her effort at a wave the women only competed on officially for the first time in 2022.
“I’ve really put a lot in to my mentality and how I want to approach the year and what’s important for me. I couldn’t be prouder of this. I’m really happy,” she said.
“Give the women an opportunity out here and we will build. The women deserve to be at Pipe, you can see how comfortable we have got in 12 months.”
Robinson and Wright will be back in action next at the Hurley Pro at Sunset Beach, also in Oahu.