Slater takes up the slack to score at Bells
KELLY Slater's back to back wins to kickstart this year's ASP World Tour has given the seven-time world champ a huge leg-up on the world title race.
Yet Kelly seems to be in world title denial and is yet to confirm his run for a historic eighth after winning the Rip Curl Pro in some of the biggest Bells Beach surf since Simon Anderson's 1981 win.
So far Kelly has looked super relaxed and focused ? his game plan has been to enjoy his surfing while blowing minds with his incredible repertoire.
Winning events is Slater's specialty, now notching up 33 WCT wins to equal Tom Curren and like his mentor he reads the moods of the ocean as well as his opponents.
President of ASP International Rabbit Bartholomew made the special trip to Bells for the 33rd Rip Curl Pro and was full of praise for the pros taking on the 8 to 10-foot Bells boomers.
"Today's pros are on another level and are so fit. It was really hard work for the guys on the last day despite having the jet skis. Occy and Joel had earlier warm-up surf and copped a battering paddling out for their semi."
Occy had been in sensational form after toppling former three-time world champ Andy Irons in the quarters but couldn't sustain the effort against Joel who was also showing fatigue after their epic semi-final.
Meanwhile, Kelly was conserving his energy and sitting comfortably in the centrally heated booth overlooking all the action and intently watching the proceedings with Rabbit.
"He was so pumped up after his semi win, he had his shirt off and was ready to go while Joel was guzzling cups of hot water to warm up his frozen limbs.
"Joel's earlier surf may have cost him a second Bells win as he had to surf one more heat than Kelly who didn't have earlier warm-up surf."
Slater almost didn't make it to Bells Beach; he was still recovering from the Quiksilver win and all the fanfare that goes with a Kelly Slater win.
He pulled out of the WQS event at Newcastle, citing fatigue and a lack of energy. Bells Beach, which he had won back in 1994, was also looking like a no show. Enter Surfing Queensland coach, commentator, Indo charger and sports massage specialist Kara Webber who has treated Kelly and the pros.
"It was a surprise when Kelly rang up for a physio massage," Kara said.
"My flatmate was gob-smacked and he ended up staying for dinner and we all watched the TV show Little Britain which Kelly likes too.
"He said he hadn't laughed so much in the last month and the next day he was flying out to the Rip Curl Pro."
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The annual Billabong Creek to Creek classic (Tallebudgera to Currumbin) is on this weekend and is the second event of the Billabong Queensland championship circuit hosted by Surfing Queensland.