Kelly Slater Defeats Andy Irons In The Final
VIDEO: Final, Semifinals, and Quarterfinals

SURF: 6 to 8 feet and good enough to get Derek Hynd to buy his house back
EVENTS HELD: Round Four until the glorious end
NATURE'S CALL: Good things come to those who wait
PREDICTED: A Supers Saturday free-for-all

There's a phrase used among the Slater circles, called "Waiting for Kelly." Being the greatest surfer of all time, Kelly has a lot of people connected to his every move. And when he doesn't move?

They wait.

Videographer Jason Blanchard and photographer Nathan Smith remained on call for the past two weeks, waiting to get the signal that he is indeed going for a surf down the point at Tubes. His friends Tatiana, Taylor Knox and Craig McCay waited as he dealt with interviews, autograph signings, photos with fans, webcast commentaries, logistics for his upcoming event at Tavarua and nine million other things he had his hands in. And his childhood buddy and caddy, Quiksilver's Todd Kline, waited for all of these things combined.

It's a long, sometimes maddening process, but in the end, they all do it without complaint. Why? Because it's Kelly. And no one but the Greatest Surfer of All Time can do what he did today at Jeffreys Bay. With 15 seconds remaining in his first-ever man-on-man final with current world champ Andy Irons, Slater — needing a 9.25 — flipped around on the last, semi-bumpy, 6-foot wall of the contest, planted his 6'1 Simon vertically in the hook three consecutive times…and scored a 9.5.

The seemingly impossible comeback win now puts Slater 750 points ahead of Mr. Irons in the title race, but it may as well be 1500 points. Slaterman's on another planet this year, and not even the Irons kryptonite or ghosts of past titles lost could throw him out of orbit.

But more on all of the grand repercussions later. First, we need to take off our wool beanies and bow to contest director Mike Parsons. Snips copped a lot of heat electing not to run Round Four yesterday in 2- to 3-foot, fun, rippable Supers. He'd heard about the big swell on the way, but if there's one thing we've learned at JBay, forecasts are worth as much the Zimbabwean dollar in these parts (check the exchange rate). Despite the pressure, Todos Parsons didn't flinch. "I didn't sleep a whole lot last night," he admitted.

"Greg's gonna have to beat Andy twice to get the judges to give it to him – They want this final too bad."Kelly Slater

Neither did Slater. Up at 4:30 a.m. and checking the surf, he said it was still only waist-high. But as the skyline first turned red, the swell peeked its head around the point. First, head-high, doubling up and lumpy. An hour later, four to six feet and firing. An hour after that, 6 to 8 feet, offshore and gut wrenching. It was the kind of surf that made you weak in the knees with each new set. And with each new set, you saw surfers scrubbing their own heads, collapsing for a moment, then punching their buddies next to them. "How GOOD is this one?" they'd scream, as another competitor set himself up for a 250-yard dream sequence.

And more often than not, it was Slater who made you punch your buddy. From his Round Four heat against Jake Paterson to his semi against breakthrough Californian Timmy Reyes, Kelly didn't just beat his opponents, he humiliated them, comboing both Paterson and North Stradbroke's Bede Durbidge before they knew what happened. After hearing they'd dealt too many 10s in the past two events, the judges grew very stingy on doling out the perfect score. In fact, Joel Parkinson reckoned there'd been at least two of them in the event so far, one by Kelly and one by Oc. But on a medium set against Durbidge, Kelly finally made the judges cave in. One super-tourque, a long, waaay back dry tube through the carpark, a couple of more elasto-snaps and a mega float on the bricks. The 10 gave him his second over-19 heat score in a row, and a generous donation to the Space Coast Juvenile Intervention Center. (Kelly's friend contributes to the school every time he posts a perfect score).

Kelly's road to the final hit a bump or two in the semis, when the straight-down-the-point southerly wind, increasing tide and pumping swell turned classic Supers into maxing, semi-stormy Steamer Lane. "It's the Coldwater Classic out here," said Kelly. "Where's Curren and Elko?"

He also went up against a very worthy rookie in HB's Timmy Reyes. Yesterday, while surfing out at Supers just before dark, Timmy unstrapped his leash, swam 15 feet underwater, and attacked Todd Kline from below.

Timmy scared the shit out of him.

Today, Timmy scared the shit out of his fellow 44ers when he showed just what he could do in hollow rights. His smooth, relaxed combo of open-face carves and impossible tube escapes dismantled a handful of cagey vets. He even needed only a 7.01 against Slater with five minutes remaining before Kelly put an end to his big ideas. "So stoked to finally compete in a good right," said Reyes, who had a string of 33rds and a 17th until this event.

Timmy was so stoked, he stayed in his wetsuit all day, even for an hour after he lost. "Dude, I'm sporting this thing on the plane tomorrow," he said. "I'm not taking it off until Huntington."

On the other side of the draw, it looked destined to be a Parko/Slater final. No one matches the speed of Supers with more grace than Parko, and with five, six and seven waves stacking to the horizon on every set, what was going to stop him?

"You gave him a 9.5 before he even took off. F–king ridiculous."Andy Irons immediatly after the final

Turns out the judges did. In a bizarre, quarterfinal first exchange with local hero Greg Emslie, Parko carved one up clear from Boneyards through to the Impossibles section. Behind him, Emslie upped the ante with a 15-yard tube out the back and a half-dozen vertical snaps through the bay. Both were impressive rides, deserving of huge scores. Emslie should have had a one-point edge. The scores: 5.67 for Parko, 8.33 for Emslie. When they announced it, Parko nearly fell off his board. He half-flipped off the judges, looked back a few times to make sure he heard it right, then never recovered. "They crueled me, didn't they?" he later asked. Judge Mike Ginsberg confirmed. They kinda crueled him.

Andy, on the other hand, had created neither controversy nor commotion all event. He'd been laying low all waiting period, watching Supersize Me with his girlfriend Lyndie at SURFING photog Pete Frieden's Pepper St. pad. Doing the tourist thing, turning in early. You definitely didn't see him on stage, belting out his rendition of Black Magic Woman.

His heats were equally under-the-radar: filled with lulls, the occasional mistake and very few scores in the 9-plus range. Even his much anticipated Round Four clash with Brother Bruce was a dud. "Bit of an anti-climax, this one, eh?" said Parko as the boys sat out another flat spell.

But those who watched carefully could tell Andy knew what he was doing all along. Let Slater have all the praises in the preliminaries. Nothing really matters until the final, and the three-time world champ had all intensions of throwing a little dirt on Kelly's glorious white-wetsuit run.

"C'mon, let's get this thing going!" Andy yelled over to Kelly after sending Greg Emslie home with the best result of his career.

Slater gets ready for the final

"Yeah, brah, 'bout time," replied Kelly, giving him some weird hand signal from the competitors' area. Judging from his body English and his commentary during the semis, Kelly wasn't necessarily pulling for a Slater/Irons final. "Greg's gonna have to beat Andy twice to get the judges to give it to him," he said. "They want this final too bad."

So did everyone else. And when Andy ran down the boardwalk and heard the cry from a drunken Mick Fanning from the bustling Beach Music house rental ("Go Andy! Beat the f–in' c–t!"), you sensed a sudden, strange shift in momentum.

That strange shift carried on through 34 minutes and 45 seconds of the final, when Andy showed better wave selection, his best form of the event, and a glory lap clear past Derek Hynd's house on his last wave.

But then it happened. As he ran back up the beach expecting the chair and a can of Foster's, Kelly got the wave, the score and the first firm grip on title No. 7.

Andy wasn't buying it. "Is that what you guys do now, just go with the crowd?" said a fuming, glaring Irons after the final to one of the judges. "You gave him a 9.5 before he even took off. F–king ridiculous."

Kelly, on the other hand, now knows that there are no such thing as ghosts. He's in the best form of the best career the surf world's ever known, and right now he's busy presenting his ever-generous host family, the Morrises, with a Sharpei puppy and a jumbo bottle of good wine.

As for his seventh world title?

We'll just have to wait.

Final Result:
Kelly Slater def. Andy Irons (16.83 to 16.56)Semifinal Results:
Semi # 1: Kelly Slater def. Timmy Reyes
Semi # 2: Andy Irons def. Greg EmslieQuarterfinal Results:
Quarter # 1: Timmy Reyes def, Luke Stedman
Quarter # 1: Kelly Slater def. Bede Durbidge
Quarter # 1: Andy Irons def. Raoni Monteiro
Quarter # 1: Greg Emslie def. Joel ParkinsonRound 4 Results:
Heat # 1: Luke Stedman def. Luke Egan
Heat # 2: Timmy Reyes def. Fred Patacchia
Heat # 3: Bede Durbidge def. Lee Winkler
Heat # 4: Kelly Slater def. Jake Paterson
Heat # 5: Andy Irons def. Bruce Irons
Heat # 6: Raoni Monteiro def. Phil MacDonald
Heat # 7: Joel Parkinson def. Dean Morrison
Heat # 8: Greg Emslie def. Taylor KnoxCurrent Top 10 Foster's ASP Men's World Tour
(After Billabong Pro J-Bay – Event # 6 of 11)1st – Kelly Slater 5342 points
2nd – Andy Irons 4596 points
3rd – Trent Munro 4286 points
4th – Mick Fanning 4230 points
5th – Joel Parkinson 3732 points
6th – Fred Patacchia 3628 points
7th – Phil MacDonald 3599 points
8th – Cory Lopez 3575 points
9th – {{{CJ}}} Hobgood 3546 points
10th – Nathan Hedge 3443 points

You think Andy enjoyed doing this? Think again.