Official 2003 Billabong Pro Teahupoo Results
- 1st Kelly Slater (USA) 19.57 – US$30,000
- 2nd Taj Burrow (Aus) 14.83 – US$16,000
(Teahupoo, Tahiti) Six-time world champion Kelly Slater (Fl, USA) today returned to the pinncle of professional surfing with an emotional win in the 2003 Billabong Pro Teahupoo. Epic conditions greeted competitors from quarterfinals of the US$250,000 World Championship Tournament (WCT) this morning all the way through until the grand finale climaxed with the best surf.
Perfectly hollow 8ft (2.5m) waves barreled along the shallow reef break at Teahupoo all day. Occasional rainsqualls passed overhead, but as the 35-minute decider commenced with boatloads of cheering spectators in the nearby channel, the sun emerged and further highlighted an amazing final.
- =1. Andy Irons (Haw), Kelly Slater (USA) – 2,400-points
- =3. Joel Parkinson (Aus), Taj Burrow (Aus) – 2,244
- 5. Mick Fanning (Aus) – 2,232
- 6. Dean Morrison (Aus) – 2,160
- 7. CJ Hobgood (USA) – 2,076
- 8. Kieren Perrow (Aus) – 2,064
- 9. Mark Occhilupo (Aus) – 2,052
- 10. Kalani Robb (Haw) – 1,812
Slater ‘ the undisputed King of professional surfing ‘ took a three-year hiatus from the tour after clinching his record sixth world crown in 1998. He then only competed in select events – with his last WCT win ironically occuring at Teahupoo in 2000. After electing to return to full-time competition last year, the Floridian finished uncharacterically low in 9th position, following three frustrating semifinal results.
He began this season with two consecutive 9th place finishes, though his surfing continued to blow minds. With gradually building momentum and increasing confidence, however, the 31-year-old finally put it all together during the Billabong Pro Teahupoo to earn his 24th WCT career victory, US$30,000 and jump from 11th all the way into equal first on the current ASP ratings.
Against West Australian Taj Burrow in the final, Slater dominated from the outset. Despite two dislocated toes on his left foot, his first airdrop takeoff and critical tube ride was nothing short of incredible. He then upped the ante with a long barrel and cutback for a 9.57 to leave his opponent searching for a combination of high scores. Burrow managed a great 8.83, but this was soon overshadowed by Slater’s next ride and the finals’ only perfect 10. While it didn’t count in his and the day’s highest combined tally of 19.57-points, he also collected another 9.33 at the very end of the well-earned victory.
‘I’m kind of emotional right now,’ admitted Slater back on the marshalling boat, surrounded by media and admiring fans. ‘It’s been three years, almost exactly. I’m so stoked.
‘As the day progressed I felt things were falling into place,’ he continued. ‘It’s important in early rounds to try and just barely win. You want to keep a reserve, and it went that way for me. I was a bit rattled after my semi cause I had two really high scores, and you usually don’t have as high a heat the next time. I was sitting on a 9.57 and an 8.67, and then I got that 10 when I was basically just blocking Taj from going. I got stuck back on the foam ball and it spat me out twice. I didn’t think I was going to come out, but when I did I actually didn’t want to catch another wave so it would be my last one. That wave at the end was too good not to take though (laughs).
‘It’s good for my confidence,’ he stated, of the win and equal ratings lead. ‘Even throughout this contest my confidence wasn’t all that great. After going for nine years straight winning at least one contest each year and then not winning for three years, it rattles you a little bit. I knew it was there, but I just had to find it and I did today. If I could pick one event in the year it would either be this or Pipeline (Haw), but probably this one due to the waves.’
Burrow, who had never progressed past the 17th place round at Teahupoo previously, was elated with his runner-up finish. The 24-year-old acknowledged luck was on his side during some close matches en-route to the final, but he ulitmately required more against the Champ. Nonetheless, the result pushed him into equal third on the ratings and sparked his world title campaign
‘I don’t know what to say or what (I should have done) then,’ aknowledged Burrow. ‘You couldn’t really compete against it as he was just amazing and nailed it. Craziest surfing I’ve seen. Normally you don’t want to see anyone get barreled in front of you, but they were so good I was just stoked for him. I had a couple of fun ones, but wasn’t as deep as I wanted to be. I still had so much fun and it was sick to be in the final with Kelly. Every wave out there was a lot of help for me next year, so I’m psyched.
‘I’ve never had a good result here and always felt like I’d missed out by so close,’ he continued. ‘I’d always lose by the tiniest bit, but then take it so personally. I had the most amazing luck on my side this year though. Just getting waves with like 10-seconds to go, so things just kept going my way. To get a really good result here is great for my world title campaign. I think I can get good results everywhere else, so I’m really feeling excited and confident.’
Equal third today was Brazilian newcomer Danilo Costa and WCT replacement Beau Emerton (Aus). Both received US$10,000 for their outstanding efforts in the 2003 event.
Costa, who qualified last in 45th position for this year’s elite tour, was far and away the biggest giant killer of the tournament. Having eliminated 1999 world and event champ Mark Occhilupo (Aus) in round two, then Dean Morrison (Gold Coast, Aus), Damien Hobgood (FL, USA), and finally Kalani Robb (Haw) this morning, Slater proved his only match in the perfect lefthand barrels. Despite locking in a near-perfect 9.47, his Floridian opponent topped this with a 9.43 and perfect 10 in his tally.