The 45 year old kid from Florida who became a Pipeline master put on a dramatic show today in 6 – 8 foot Pipe. Kelly Slater not only gave a vintage athletic performance but also played some Voodoo priority tricks on a Joan Duru to seal the win.
The crowd started buzzing at the end of the 7th round when Kelly Slater appeared, board in hand talking with John Pyzel. He pulled on his white jersey and sat down at the water’s edge massing his foot.
A crowd gathered to watch the champ as he ran (with a slight limp) into the water and was swept out by the current.
As the late great Bruce Brown put it “Good ol’ Hawaii and the dirty ol’ nasty Pipeline. This is a surfing spot that’s hardly even a surfing spot. It’s more like a Roman gladiators pit.”
Slater was playing the role of a gladiator. The crown ooing at every take off. For the most part, Slater was ripping. Joan Duru and Kolohe Andino didn’t stand a chance.
Joan actually got a good start in the heat. Weaving through a Pipeline left and finishing with a solid roundhouse – still only a 4.60 – the judges wanted more. Slater gave it to them.
His first wave was a quick “lets surf off these Lemoore legs” barrel for a 2.83. He sneaks back out and under priority catches a vintage under the lip backside bottom turn. After getting slightly clipped by the barrel, he does a little roundhouse as if to test out the foot and give the crowd a little extra. The judges loved it and Slater was in the lead from there on out with a 7.17.
The most interesting wave of the heat was Slater’s third. He was deep, too deep for pretty much everyone except maybe Slater. Kolohe was on the shoulder but Slater dropped in late with priority. He knifed the drop and used his full rail (his board actually looked good) against the wave. He had to hurry his bottom turn, and got a half drawn bottom turn in before being detonated. Would he have made that drop if he was 100% healthy? I’d say so. That had perfect 10 written all over it.
Meanwhile, Joan and Kolohe were buzzing in the background. Dropping 1’s and 3’s, a mere sideshow to the main event. Slater backed up his score with a barrel on a big one at Backdoor. After getting barreled, he attempted a mid-face slash that – if pulled – would have pushed the score into the excellent rage. The judges awarded a 5.30
With 10:30 left, Joan Duru packed a solid Backdoor wave and finished with a snap for a 7.23. He was within striking distance as only needing a 5.24 to overtake Slater. Kolohe needed an 8.24
With 1:30 minute left, Kolohe had priority, Joan had second and Slater in third. Slater sat about 20 yards from both of them towards Off The Wall. When a wide one came through, Slater baited Joan into paddling for it, and lots priority. The next one wave came through, and Slater snaked Joan (who had lost priority).
He walked up the beach, directly to Rosie Hodge. He said his foot was at 65% and was dealing with an respiratory infection. Thoughts on the world title? “I hope I’m in involved in some way. They better be ready.”