SLATER HOLDS OFF MACDONALD TO WIN BOOST MOBILE PRO
Putting on a clinical display of surfing in the excellent one metre (three foot) plus conditions on offer, Kelly Slater (USA) held off a strong challenge from Aussie Phil MacDonald to claim victory in the Boost Mobile Pro Of Surf presented by Quiksilver.
The win at Trestles, located just south of San Clemente in Southern California, was his fourth on this year's Foster's ASP Men's World Tour and will serve to increase his lead on the tour rankings.
Going into the final Macdonald was adamant he wouldn't let Slater get away with an easy win and dominated for much of the 35-minute duel. Opening with some powerful frontside turns he notched up a 6.83 out of 10 then followed through with an 8.17 soon after. Slater meanwhile had a low scorer and sat patiently waiting for a wave that would deliver him the 8.67 he required to reel in MacDonald.
While MacDonald was sitting with priority, Slater managed to snavel a smaller inside wave with less than five minutes to go and in typical Slater form he went berserk executing a large floater manoeuvre, an aerial and then completed the ride with a lay-back snap. For the wave he scored a 9.07 and victory.
"I was thinking before that wave about how fresh I was feeling and at that point I knew it was going to come down to one ride," said Slater. "I knew how long it would take to paddle back out and there was just enough time left for me to circle and get another one if need be, but luckily I didn't need it.
"It's pretty amazing," Slater continued. "The last three finals I've been in have been decided in the last five minutes – I got Andy in the last 30 seconds in South Africa, he got me in the last five minutes in Japan and now this today. It makes it exciting for everyone watching."
At 33 years of age, Slater is in the box seat for an incredible seventh world crown and at this stage of his career he is arguably finding his best form ever and is confident he can go on with the job of claiming the crown.
"It's all about where your mind's at," said Slater. "It's a spiritual thing. It's all about how you approach things. When things are stagnant in my life, the worse I surf and the more I enjoy things, the better I surf and I feel more in tune with everything. It's even fun when you lose! As far as the ratings go, it's a great position to be in. I was hoping to at least maintain my current lead over Andy but this was a huge bonus today and it feels great to have four wins this year."
MacDonald, who was unlucky not to get a wave in the dying stages of the heat, will take pride in securing his second runner-up tag this season. His current rating of fifth is his best standing ever and a win for him surely must be around the corner.
"With three minutes to go I was just praying that the ocean would go flat," MacDonald said. "And then a wave came through that didn't look even remotely like an 8.5 so I didn't even budge. Kelly went it and him being him… well he turned it into the score he needed. It's a good result and at least I'm making finals. It was good for the crowd and I know I'll get one eventually.
"To be in the top five you have to be able to beat anyone," said MacDonald. "It's not rocket science. You have to beat the best to be the best. Kelly's surfing amazing this year and I'm just stoked I stuck it to him and nearly pulled it off. France is in another week so hopefully I can go one better there."
In the earlier semi finals Slater brought down Taj Burrow (AUS) while MacDonald disposed of Mick Fanning (AUS). Both were obviously disappointed, as throughout the event they had showed some amazing form.
Burrow was eager to bring down Slater but was shown the exit door when he failed to find a wave that would deliver him the score he required. Despite his loss he was happy to take the equal third place. He also joked about there not being a Slater/Irons return match-up in the final.
"I've definitely seen enough of Kelly and Andy in finals," laughed Burrow. "I'm pretty bummed at the moment though. I'm just disappointed that I didn't get the chance to get the score I needed to beat him. I sat there with priority for so long and that's something I don't normally do as I'm pretty impatient. The wave just didn't come. Full credit to Kelly though. His run has been really amazing but I wish I was the one to bring him down."
Fanning, who is sitting in third on the rankings, was hoping to make the final and also end Slater's run. Beating Slater in the final today would have been a huge boost for his confidence and would have placed him with an inside running for the Foster's ASP Men's World Tour crown.
He was most disappointed since his loss to MacDonald came down to needing one wave and the luck just didn't go his way.
"It's all a little bit disappointing at the moment," said Fanning. "It all came down to one wave. There's not much you can do when the luck doesn't go your way. There was a lull in the semi and it's been off and on like that all day. I just needed to make that heat and I would've liked to have beaten Kelly in the final."
MacDonald was also responsible for defeating Andy Irons (HAW) in the quarter-finals but luckily for Irons the top five slots on the ratings will not change and he is still well in contention going into the next stop on the Foster's ASP Men's World Tour, the Quiksilver Pro France.
Although, if Slater were to win the next event he will sew up his title run and even if he scores bottom points in the last two events in Brazil and Hawaii his lead will be unassailable.
Heat 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) 17.57 def Jake Paterson (AUS) 14.27
Heat 2: Trent Munro (AUS) 16.00 def Taylor Knox (USA) 15.50
Heat 3: Kalani Robb (HAW) 11.17 def Tim Reyes (USA) 11.00
Heat 4: Kelly Slater (USA) receives walk through due to Troy Brooks (AUS) injury
Heat 5: Andy Irons (HAW) 16.84 def Richard Lovett (AUS) 10.33
Heat 6: Phil Macdonald (AUS) 14.17 def Greg Emslie (ZAF) 12.87
Heat 7: Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.00 def Paulo Moura (BRA) 7.66
Heat 8: CJ Hobgood (USA) 17.00 def Victor Ribas (BRA) 15.07
Quarter final 1: Burrow 15.83 def Munro 14.93
Quarter final 2: Slater 17.10 def Robb 11.67
Quarter final 3: Macdonald 15.44 def Irons 15.34
Quarter final 4: Fanning 16.03 def Hobgood 15.17
Semi final 1: Slater 17.40 def Burrow 12.84
Semi final 2: Macdonald 16.07 def Fanning 15.17
Slater 15.40 def Macdonald 15.00
Full event results are available on www.boostmobile.com or www.aspworldtour.com