Chris Ward, who placed third in the final here last year logged the highest heat score of the contest so far with a total of 19. Counting a 9.57 and a 9.43 as his best two waves, Ward even had a third 'throwaway' wave of 9.0.
"I haven't really surfed since I injured my knee," said Ward. "I surfed a couple of heats in China and then stayed off it until today. I guess it paid off because you get hungry and you want to catch good waves. I didn't want to go on any bad waves and I guess it worked, I lucked out.
"I've been coming here to Hawaii since I was 12. Being around the local guys and the legends... learning from the best in good waves... you learn a lot surfing with your favorite surfers. Being out at Pipe when the conditions are good tests your ability. Any heats at Pipe are amazing - just three guys out, so I'm looking forward to more heats."
Peruvian Gabriel Villaran was the third-highest scorer today, with 17.07 points. He was rock solid on the lefts of Pipeline and is feeling confident of a good-showing this year.
"I made a final here in 2006, so I know what it takes to make it all the way," said Villaran. "Today's a great day and hopefully I keep the mojo going through the whole event. When the wave is big, I prefer to go left because I feel more secure. But if the right Backdoor wave comes to me, I'm not going to hesitate.
"I look forward to seeing John John surfing here. He really knows what's going on."