• Ride
posted by Stab

Kelly Slater is the current world number one. Can you believe it? Are you surprised? You shouldn’t be. Today at the Quiksilver Pro, Gold Coast, Kelly beat Mick Fanning in semifinal number two, and then Joel Parkinson in the final (with an 18.56 heat total). There was not a moment when Kelly didn’t look in control. Even when he was trailing in scores, he didn’t look like he was playing catchup. Wanna know why? “I sat on the point for an hour before dark last night and I watched every wave break,” he said. “I basically took mental notes, I made lineups in my head, I knew exactly where the good waves were. I don’t think anyone else did that, by the looks of what Mick and Joel did. They sat up high and it was really clear to me watching, not only last night but also this morning – I spent some time up on the point this morning – I just had a really clear game plan and wasn’t doubting it. I sat right where I wanted and even though I was a hundred yards wider than them, that was where the best waves were when they came.”

Kelly Slater, the winner.  Photo by ASP / Carey.

They were, and that’s why Kelly clocked a 9.93 and 10 against Mick, and a 8.73 and 9.83 against Joel. But the fights weren’t easy, and Kelly wasn’t the only one dropping bombs. Joel scored a 10 and an eight in his semi, then a pair of eights in the final. Mick scored an eight and a nine in his semi against Kelly. “If I had to handpick two guys I had the chance to beat out here, it was gonna be Mick and Joel,” said Kelly. “That’s who I wanna surf against. Part of me would love for them to not go as far in the contest, if you look at the whole year. But if I want to challenge myself, those are the best two guys out here and that’s who I wanna prove myself against.” One wave that Joel took off on, while a little fast, saw him standing in a perfect drainer, before being shut down by an in-priority Kelly, who then popped out the doggy door but lost his footing. It was a thrilling moment, and one of many that Joel put himself in today. “Waves like that, that’s why we surf, that’s why we compete,” said Joel afterwards. “When you’re standing in a barrel and you’ve got a jersey on, and you’re getting 10s, y’know…”

“Dropped-in on,” interjected Kelly, smiling cheekily.

“It’s even worse!” laughed Joel. “Nah, but it was an amazing day, and awesome event.”

A very barreled Joel Parkinson.  Second place.  Photo by ASP / Will H-S.

“I was actually hoping he’d break his board,” laughed Kelly Slater, talking about the drop in. “I had priority. He had a good wave. It didn’t matter. If he didn’t go on that wave, I would have taken that wave. It just looked like a big, throaty one. I thought it did look a little long to stay open. I was sitting on that corner down there. That’s where that sand starts to come into the bay. That was my game plan all day.”

Kelly was unsurprised by the high scores, purely because of the conditions: “That’s Kirra, y’know? The wave does the work, you just stand there and let it go around you. I wouldn’t call it classic Kirra, but there were classic waves. I couldn’t pick a better location. When I was in that semi with Mick, I was just worried that I wouldn’t get another chance to surf today out there. That was really in the back of my mind, I just wanted to surf again. I wasn’t really worried bout the results. I just wanted to be able to surf Kirra one more time in my life with no one out.”

Mick Fanning surfed very well, also.  Photo by ASP / Kirstin.

Kelly also made it clear that he’s gunning for a world title this year. No coyness, no uncertainty – he wants it. Is there anything more dangerous? “I’m committed to the tour this year,” he said. “I decided before this contest that I was going for a title. You’ve gotta be careful of that. Sometimes you get a 10 in a heat, and then you lose. That’s kinda how today is. you win the first one but then you can’t take your foot off the gas, you’ve gotta still surf like you’re in second or third and you’re coming from behind. Otherwise you start surfing defensively and you don’t give your best effort. It’s a long year, and we have throwaway events. If I get hurt and have to miss an event… I missed an event last year and who knows what that did? If I’d made the quarters I probably would’ve won the title. It’s just one of those things. I beat Joel twice last year and he still won the title. You can pat yourself on the back all you want for beating a guy, but if you don’t win the title at the end of the year, it doesn’t mean much.”

If you didn’t get to watch it, do yourself a real favour and slide over to the heats on demand. It’s a really fine time. – Elliot Struck

1 – 
Kelly Slater (USA) 18.56
2 – Joel Parkinson (AUS) 17.47

SF 1: 
Joel Parkinson (AUS) 18.17 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 15.80
SF 2: Kelly Slater (USA) 19.37 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 18.60

CURRENT ASP WCT TOP 5 (Following Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast):
Kelly Slater (USA) 10000 pts
2. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 8000 pts
3. Mick Fanning (AUS) 6500 pts
3. Michel Bourez (PYF) 6500 pts
5. Taj Burrow (AUS) 5200 pts
5. Julian Wilson (AUS) 5200 pts
5. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 5200 pts
5. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 5200 pts