(Reuters) - Australia's Jack Robinson won his fourth world surfing championship tour event on Wednesday, claiming the Billabong Pro Pipeline over Italy's Leonardo Fioravanti, who broke his back at the dangerous wave eight years ago.
Olympic and five-times world champion Carissa Moore from Hawaii made the most of the tricky conditions at surfing's most revered location, beating Australia's three-times world champion Tyler Wright in the women's final.
"This one feels extra special," Moore said in an interview from the water straight after her win. "It's not the Pipe I was practising for or wishing for, but a win at Pipe is a win at Pipe and I'm just so grateful."
On finals day, strong winds and a dropping swell meant surfers mostly concentrated on the right-handers of Backdoor, where even a successful wave ends in a closeout on a shallow reef, rather than in a deeper channel at Pipeline proper.
Robinson had to switch his board after hitting bare reef early in his semi-final against Brazil's Joao Chianca, but kept rolling the dice and got the scores to make the final against Fioravanti.
The Roman broke two vertebrae at Pipeline during a competition in 2015, narrowly avoiding being paralysed but unable to surf for seven months.
He spent several years on and off the championship tour, getting relegated in the controversial mid-year cut last year, before fighting his way back by winning the second-tier challenger series.
Western Australian Robinson, one of the world's best tube riders, had to beat Brazil's Gabriel Medina and Hawaii's John John Florence, both event and world champions, in earlier rounds.
"It's so special, I've dreamed of this for a long time," Robinson said. "This wave has hurt me, this wave has given me a lot of good things too and I'm just grateful to be in one piece and be in the moment."
Sunset Beach, just down the road on Oahu's North Shore, hosts the next competition later this month.
The top five men and top five women at the end of the 10 stop tour will battle for a world title in a one-day contest in California in September.
Spots at the 2024 Paris Olympics, being held at the legendary reefbreak of Teahupo'o in Tahiti, also beckon for the top surfers at the end of the global tour.
(Reporting by Lincoln Feast in Sydney; Editing by Christopher Cushing)