Here is the draw & updated wildcard/injury replacement info for the Billabong Pipe Masters 2016 (8th - 20th December)
Owen Wright and Mick Fanning will again be OUT.
Bede Durbidge - IN
Bede will make his first WCT appearance in 2016 at Pipe. He competed in both Haliewa and Sunset, and while he only made one heat, he seems to be building. Keep in mind Bede is a former Pipe Master, and he also coached John John Florence to victory this year (in part). His return to the wave which almost ended his career last season will be watched with great anticipation.
Dusty Payne - OUT
With Bede back in the game, somebody has to take the bench. That someone is Dusty Payne. This is based purely on his 2015 WQS ranking, not his current WCT ranking (which is actually better than fellow wildcard Adam Melling).
Alejo Muniz - OUT
Alejo has officially withdrawn from the Pipe Masters, citing knee complications.
Matt Banting - OUT
No word yet as to what has happened to Banting, but it's official.
Frederico Morais - IN
The big Portuguese powerhouse natural-footer is currently topping the race for the Vans Triple Crown, thanks in no small part to his incredibly aggressive man-hacks and wave brutality. It's earned him a spot on the 2017 'CT roster, as well as a shot at eternal glory by defending his 3xCrown lead at Pipe. The European Storm is brewing.
Bruce Irons- IN
Bruce is no stranger to Pipe, and you don't need us to tell you that he has already held the trophy up high in the past, coming through the trials to do so. His last few forays on the main stage during competition have been less than stellar, but he'll have lots of home town support, and plenty of experience to draw upon here. In the bottom tier he looks like a pretty sweet deal compared to a lot of the pack. However we suggest keeping an eye on the trials winners before committing to BI.
As we "go to print" the 2 event wildcard places have yet to be decided in the Pipe Invitational, where 32 surfers battle it out for the 2 remaining positions. The draw has been released officially on WSL, and here it is:
Keep a sharp eye on the trials. Anyone who can battle it through to the main event will surely be one to watch, at Pipe more than anywhere. Past trials winners who have gone on to win the event include Jamie O'Brien, Bruce Irons and Jonny Boy Gomes.