November 4, 2003 (Joaquina, Florianopolis, Brasil) Six-time world champion Kelly Slater (FL, USA) today moved a major step closer towards clinching a record seventh crown by winning the {{{Nova}}} Schin Festival WCT Brasil over Mick Fanning (Gold Coast, Aus). The US$250,000 ASP World Championship Tournament (WCT) relocated two hours drive south to Imbituba, with round four of kicking off the action. A capacity beach crowd with tens of thousands then watched as the final rounds unfolded this afternoon.

Solid 6ft (2m) surf was on offer at Praia Da Vila, with the best waves seen during the entire event. Long righthanders reminiscent of Haleiwa, Hawaii, gave competitors plenty of room to perform multiple maneuvers down the line.

Slater, fresh from a third WCT win in Spain last event, marked his territory throughout today’s business end of the draw with incredible surfing. The 31-year-old posted the only perfect 10 of the tournament, together with the highest combined total of 18.67-points during the quarterfinals. Then in the main decider he created an early lead. The lead changed midway, but the Floridian then nailed his 27th event title with the final’s top score of 9.37-points.

“This is the craziest crowd I’ve ever seen in my life,” began Slater, over the deafening sound of thousands surrounding him. “I thought it was mad when I first started, but this is heavy. Andy was really running away there (on the ratings), and we were all trying to play catch up, so to match him with four wins feels amazing.

“I couldn’t hear the scores, but I knew Mick got the score he was needing halfway,” he continued, of the final itself. “So I needed a good wave, basically, and I guess I pulled it off. I didn’t see his last wave, but he’s been surfing so well. Neither of us could hear what happened for about two-minutes after, but it’s a pretty awesome feeling to come off the beach to applause like that.

“I’m excited,” he added, of the coming events in Hawaii. “For me personally, it was real important to try and win this contest after Andy fell out and Taj lost yesterday. Right now everyone is there together at the top... This sea of people is incredible though. You come to Brazil and feel like a rock star.”

Fanning had been stopped in four semifinals earlier this season, but finally broke the voodoo to face Slater today. The 2002 ASP ‘Rookie of the Year’ then took it to the champ and held the lead toward the end after his best 8.17 ride. Following his opponent’s last wave however, the 22-year-old required an additional 8.21 score. He caught another, but only posted a 7.93 and was forced to settle with his second consecutive runner-up finish in Brazil.

“It feels good to have made the final,” said Fanning. “I’m a little frustrated right now, as I thought if I could just get a good wave I could have done something. I was really tired... but that’s just the way it goes. I’m stoked to have come back to Brazil and made another final, but sick of getting second here (laughs). I’d just like to thank all the Brazilian people. They’ve been incredible and just made my trip so enjoyable. Obrigado.

“I’m pretty psyched for Hawaii,” he added. “But right now I’m going to have a beer with the boys.”