After Billabong Pro Mundaka – WCT #9/12
1. Kelly Slater (USA) 7,428
2. Andy Irons (Haw) 7,248
3. Taj Burrow (Aus) 7,020
4. Mick Fanning (Aus) 6,528
5. Joel Parkinson (Aus) 6,300
6. Kieren Perrow (Aus) 6,036
7. Taylor Knox (USA) 5,412
8. Mick Lowe (Aus) 5,388
9. Dean Morrison (Aus) 5,340
10. Daniel Wills (Aus) 5,112
October 24, 2003 (Mundaka, Basque Country) Six-time world champion Kelly Slater (FL, USA) today won the Billabong Pro Mundaka and took poll position for this year’s world title race. The US$250,000 World Championship Tournament (WCT) commenced this morning with both semifinal bouts, and then moved immediately into the event’s pinnacle on the last day of its generous 13-day waiting period.
Windblown 4ft (1.3m) surf was on offer, but long lefthanders were still running along the epic sandbar.
Slater began the day by achieving his primary goal of overtaking reigning world champ Andy Irons’ (Kauai, Haw) ratings lead upon reaching the Billabong Pro Mundaka final. Then against West Australian Taj Burrow in the 30-minute decider, he surfed a patient match and steadily improved his standing, before nailing victory on his last ride for an 8.9 score.
With two previous WCT wins to his credit this season – both Billabong Pro’s (Tahiti & in South Africa) – the Floridian has now racked up 26 career titles and amassed the most prizemoney in pro surfing (US$968,755) so far. More importantly to him at this stage however, is the 180 points’ advantage he now holds.
“I’m feeling so good,” began Slater. “I think Andy made a little prophecy at the beginning of the contest when he said I was going to win, so thank you Andy (laughs). This is great, as it puts me, Andy and Taj all right there together and I think it’s exciting for the tour, and each of us. I’m just stoked, as that final was big and puts me a few hundred points ahead. It’s an exciting time right now. Andy seemed like he was going to pull away from us all after the last event, but this one went perfectly our way.
“There wasn’t much in it,” he continued, of the final itself. “Taj got a few, but they weren’t really high scoring waves. I knew I could find a good one if I waited. I’m glad it actually came when I had priority, which was great.
“Everyone seems really excited,” he added, of the upcoming event in Brazil next week. “Sounds like there is going to be good waves, and music, and people in Brazil have so much spirit and are so excited about surfing and sports in general. Any event right now is going to be really crucial for the title and points race, so Brazil is just as important as Hawaii.”
Burrow cemented his position as #3 on the ratings and moved closer to Irons with another runner-up placing. In a rematch of their Billabong Pro Teahupoo final in Tahiti this year, the 25-year-old took the lead at times, but never had control of Slater. Following his opponent’s last ride, he ultimately required a near-perfect 9.53 score as the siren sounded. Heading to Brazil now – where he last won a WCT in 2002 – the West Australian remains a major world title contender.
“It was definitely great to make the final, but yeah, it’s a little frustrating,” acknowledged Burrow. “It was a close one, but he used his priority well at the end and got a big score. Pretty devastated as I thought I was going to get him, but stoked at the same time.
“I’ve had some good results in Brazil and I hope I get another one there,” he added, of the next tournament. “I haven’t been to Florianopolis before, but I’ve heard it’s fun, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Finishing equal third today in the Billabong Pro Mundaka were Australians Mick Fanning (Gold Coast) and Nathan Hedge (Narrabeen). Both received S$10,000 and more valuable ratings points.