Kelly grabs season?s first crown
By BOB ANTHONY and AAP
COULD this be the year Kelly Slater rewrites the surfing history books ... again?
He has already started, after winning the Quiksilver Pro in impressive style yesterday at Duranbah Beach to claim his 32nd career win.
In waves which failed to do justice to the occasion, Slater showed his all-round versatility, blowing West Australian Taj Burrow away with some dynamic surfing which had the Aussie always chasing highscoring rides.
Thousands lined the D-bah foreshore to watch the showdown, which struggled due to small, inconsistent waves.
Slater, who created history by being the first overseas surfer to win the Quiksilver Pro since it took over from Billabong in 2001, made the most of his wave selection, giving a display of skillful manoeuvres and scoring high points early in the final.
Burrow, who decided to wait for bigger sets, found himself playing catch-up. Slater posted a two-wave best score of 16.17, which included a nine-point ride, compared to Burrow's 14.60.
Slater said he had a feeling from the outset of the Quiksilver that Burrow would be the surfer to watch, and was full of his praises.
"I'm really stoked to win here. We just had a fun time out there.
"I'd love to see Taj win a world title. He looks focused and I don't know if he's ever really put his full focus into surfing contests," Slater said.
"It could be frightening if he did that all year."
And Burrow was far from despondent about finishing runner-up.
"I'm just feeling good to be back in the water," he said.
"I did a Fanning and had about three months off, so I was really happy with the result.
"I felt I could have got him, but he really ripped out there."
For his efforts Slater picked up a cheque for $41,000 (US$30,000) as well as an additional $6600 for the longest tube ride during the tournament.
While Slater was delighted with his breakthrough win, he was less certain about whether he'd make a full tilt at an eighth world championship.
"To win here makes it a better chance for me to really stick in there and go for the (world) title," said Slater, who also collected 1200 WCT ratings points.
"I'd be lying if I said an eighth world title didn't come into my mind, but I'm not that preoccupied with it."
The WCT moves to Bells Beach in Victoria for the season's second event starting April 11.