2005 Japan Quiksilver Pro – Round 1 Report

SURF: 2-3 feet and clean
NATURE’S CALL: Pray for Typhoon Nabi
PREDICTED: Kelly mania in full effect…

When we last left Kelly Slater, he was buzzing over his monumental victory over Andy Irons at reeling J-Bay. Guess what? The buzz hasn’t worn off. After J-Bay, Kelly went MIA, forgoing the standard doldrum filled August trip to So-Cal with an extended African wave feast followed by a couple weeks of further gorging in Bali. This is a guy more surf stoked than you can imagine. He rolled into Narita airport last night after an 11-hour flight fresh, focused and energized. A late night fuel up at the Hebara 7-11 put him even further in the zone (Japanese 7-11s are not to be missed, by the way. I can’t begin to describe how much better they are here than the ones in the States.)

Kelly Slater gets out of the starting blocks with a dominating Round 1

Andy Irons, meanwhile, wasn’t yet in country having missed a connection to Tokyo, but the ASP postponed his Round 1 heat till the end of the day.

The waves were a small and gutless 1-2 feet at the main contest site of Hebara Beach so the comp went mobile moving the show 30 minutes north to a fun little right next to a jetty at Shidashita beach. (Say that one out loud a couple of times as fast as you can.)

The opening heats were a bit slow going. Small wave maestros like Taj Burrow and 2004 winner {{{CJ}}} Hobgood cruised to wins, but others like Tim Curran and Mick Fanning weren’t able to seal the deal and will face elimination in Round 2. But just when things were looking like the late 80s revisited (small gutless waves, not much energy on the beach) the tide began to fill in, bringing with it a few bona fide waist-high waves. Then, light onshore disappeared, leaving behind sheet glass conditions. Just in time for Kelly to throw on his jersey for heat number 8 against a local favorite Kenta Hayashi and longtime nemesis, Jake Paterson. Kelly gets it going early, too early in fact as he grabs a wave before the horn and rips it to shreds. That one doesn’t count but the 7.33 and 9.33 he follows up with – they do. Paterson and Hayashi can only say Konichiwa to combo-land and the dreaded Round 2.

After the easy victory, Kelly decides to hang out, spread the vibe. He does a bit of webcast commentary and watches a Parko suffer a shocker in Heat 10, sees Bede Durbidge (who narrowly beat him at Phillip Island) find rhythm in Heat 12, and digs on how Dean Morrison makes Shidashita look like a firing Gold Coast point.

Despite a close run by a Japanes wildcard, Andy Irons won his Round 1 heat

Heat 15 is the real one to watch though as Timmy Reyes, (who was also on fire at J-Bay) shows how lethal his forehand can be in small rights. Poor Timmy goes down though when the judges charitably give Paulo Moura a 9.6. He didn’t seem that bummed, though with the loss as he knows that he’s now got his form on and his rookie year back on track.

By that time, it was finally Andy’s turn to take a crack. The conditions were still holding up quite well and Kelly was still on hand to check it out. AI shook off the jet lag right away (or as a local fan might say, “Jet rag light away”) by toasting a set wave for a 7.67, but after that not much came through and he barely won on a countback over another local wildcard, Hideyoshi Tanaka.

Then, as the setting sun cast its orange glow in the land of the rising sun, Kelly grabbed a fresh new stick and hit the lineup as a group of admiring female fans lined the nearby jetty. On every snap- and air-filled wave, cameras flashed and high squeals of delight echoed off the lush mountains behind them.

If you didn’t know it already, this is looking like Kelly’s year. And he’s enjoying every minute of it.

Aussie Dean Morrison won his Round 1 heat

(1st place advances to Rnd 3; 2nd & 3rd go to Rnd 2)

Heat # 1: 1 – Phil MacDonald, 2 – Tim Curran, 3 – Marcelo Nunes
Heat # 2: 1 – Cory Lopez, 2 – Chris Ward, 3 – Shane Beschen
Heat # 3: 1 – Michael Lowe, 2 – Toby Martin, 3 – Nathan Hedge
Heat # 4: 1 – Taj Burrow 2 – Shea Lopez, 3 – Taylor Knox
Heat # 5: 1 – Richie Lovett, 2 – Renan Rocha, 3 – Mick Fanning
Heat # 6: 1 – CJ Hobgood, 2 – Masato Watanabe, 3 – Mark Occhilupo
Heat # 7: 1 – Darren O’Rafferty, 2 – Dane Reynolds, 3 – Trent Munro
Heat # 8: 1 – Kelly Slater, 2 – Kenta Hayashi, 3 – Jake Paterson
Heat # 9: 1 – Andy Irons, 2 – Hideyoshi Tanaka, 3 – Peterson Rosa
Heat #10: 1 – Tom Whitaker, 2 – Joel Parkinson, 3 – Masatoshi Ohno
Heat #11: 1 – Victor Ribas, 2 – Travis Logie, 3 – Luke Egan
Heat #12: 1 – Bede Durbidge, 2 – Luke Stedman, 3 – Fred Patacchia
Heat #13: 1 – Damien Hobgood, 2 – Sunny Garcia, 3 – Troy Brooks
Heat #14: 1 – Dean Morrison, 2 – Kalani Robb, 3 – Lee Winkler
Heat #15: 1 – Paulo Moura, 2 – Tim Reyes, 3 – Daniel Wills
Heat #16: 1 – Bruce Irons, 2 – Greg Emslie, 3 – Raoni Monteiro

UPCOMING ROUND 2 HEATSHeat # 1: Joel Parkinson v. Masato Watanabe
Heat # 2: Trent Munro v. Kenta Hayashi
Heat # 3: Mick Fanning v. Hideyoshi Tanaka
Heat # 4: Nathan Hedge v. Masatoshi Ohno
Heat # 5: Luke Egan v. Dane Reynolds
Heat # 6: Fred Patacchia v. Renan Rocha
Heat # 7: Daniel Wills v. Shea Lopez
Heat # 8: Jake Paterson v. Toby Martin
Heat # 9: Peterson Rosa v. Shane Beschen
Heat #10: Mark Occhilupo v. Tim Curran
Heat #11: Taylor Knox v. Luke Stedman
Heat #12: Chris Ward v. Sunny Garcia
Heat #13: Marcelo Nunes v. Kalani Robb
Heat #14: Travis Logie v. Tim Reyes
Heat #15: Troy Brooks v. Greg Emslie
Heat #16: Lee Winkler v. Raoni Monteiro