"Life's good," smiled Kelly Slater from the winner's podium at the 2008 Quiksilver Pro, shortly after besting reigning world champ Mick Fanning in front of his hometown fans.
If we've learned anything about Kelly over the past 15-plus years it's that when life is on the up and up, he pretty much smokes everybody. And, well, the stars seem to be in alignment for the eight-time world champ because from beginning to end, Kelly, in form reminiscent to his win last year at Trestles, was simply elevating to another level.
In his first heat of the day he flew past Adriano DeSouza’s 17.50, which set up a quarterfinal matchup promised to be the heat of the contest: Slater versus Irons. Between the two of them there they share 11 world titles, and a ridiculous amount of contest wins. Unfortunately, the waves didn't quite cooperate and the heat turned into a fairly one-sided affair, culminating with Kelly casually taking three to the beach on his last wave…switch-stance.
Then in a matchup that beach commentator Ronnie Blakey dubbed "Yoda versus Luke," Kelly squared off against 2007 Rookie of the Year Jeremy Flores. At one point Jeremy had Kelly in a combo situation, but Kelly being Kelly, didn't seem to sweat it too much and came surging back to earn himself a berth into the final.
And on the other side of the draw the Aussie contingent battled amongst themselves. Bede Durbidge took out Joel Parkinson in their quarterfinal duel, while Mick Fanning eliminated fellow Coolie Kid Dean Morrison. Mick then proceeded to cut down Bede, which then set up the Kelly/Mick final.
As mentioned above, Kelly dethroned the reigning world champ at his home break, which considering he always seems to be more interested in the season if he starts out with a good result, would lead one to believe that with the plethora of talent on tour this year he's intent on giving 2008 one more good effort. But in Kelly's classic ambiguous way, when Martin Potter asked if he'd be giving the tour a go this year, he just explained that he was stoked on the win and was having a good time.
With the win at this year's Quiksilver Pro Kelly becomes only the second person to win the event twice—the other being Mick Fanning. And while he wouldn't commit to his plans for the rest of the season, with the likes of Dane, Jordy, the Aussies, and Andy all raising the stakes, it's hard to figure that Kelly wouldn't want a piece of the action—especially after his win on the Gold Coast.
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Final:
(1st wins $US 30,000; 2nd wins $US 16,000)
Kelly Slater def. Mick Fanning
COMPLETE SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
(1st advances to Final; 2nd finishes =3rd)
Heat #1: Mick Fanning def. Bede Durbidge
Heat #2: Kelly Slater def. Jeremy Flores
COMPLETE QUARTERFINAL RESULTS:
(1st advances to Semifinals; 2nd finishes =5th)
Heat #1: Bede Durbidge def. Joel Parkinson
Heat #2: Mick Fanning def. Dean Morrison
Heat #3: Jeremy Flores def. Adrian Buchan
Heat #4: Kelly Slater def. Andy Irons