Another year, and another great swell for the Volcom Fiji Pro! Whilst it wasn’t the same gigantic conditions as the previous year, it still turned it on and was easily the best waves of any ASP event in 2013. With the swell fading (apparently) and only three days left, contest organisers were always going to push to wrap it up on day 11.
It was a perfect morning to start the finals, with Jordy Smith and John John Florence entering the line-up of 6-8 foot plus swell; spectators couldn’t really ask for much more.
It was a slow start to the heat with 10 minutes or so passing until Jordy took off on his first wave getting slotted but clearly not deep enough posting a 3.17. The next set, John John found himself out the back by himself, thus having the luxury of picking off the second wave of the set, which he consequently destroyed. Multiple tubes finished off with a series of hacks of the top, none could argue with his 9.13.
Not many waves were caught for the reminder of heat with Smith briefly taking the lead before Florence snatched it back with a 9.93 for getting barrelled and throwing down some huge turns. John John took the heat and identified himself as a contest favourite.
In heat two, poor Sebastian Zietz didn’t stand a chance again King Kelly. Slater posted an epic 10 on the first wave of the heat, and then claimed another perfect 10 with 13 minutes to go. The only positive for Zietz is he was able to surf pumping Cloudbreak with only one guy out!
Next saw perennial Cloudbreak finalist CJ Hobgood take on Josh Kerr. A very slow heat with only one score being posted above a 5. Luck was on CJ’s side as he snatched victory with a 4.10 with 6 minutes to go.
To round off the quarters was the Cooly Kids battle between Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning. There were more waves than the last heat, but some may argue that these two handled the conditions better than the surfers in heat three. The Gold Coast locals traded waves during the heat before Mick grabbed a winner with 45 seconds to go, an unfortunate exit for the current world champ.
The complaint that – a surfer can lose twice during the event and still win – reared its head again. Mainly due to Slater and Parko missing their first round heats; however they proved to be the form competitors of the contest. None could argue that the four remaining competitors were not the best surfers of the event (CJ Hobgood, Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning, John John Florence).
Semi Final 1 was billed as the heat of the Volcom Fiji Pro, the veteran and the challenger; Slater against Florence. Unfortunately, it ended up being a bit of a non-event, with Slater controlling the heat from start to finish. Slater finished the heat with a combined score of 18.17 to go with his perfect 20 from his quarter-final. It was going to take a super human effort for someone to stop him winning the contest.
In second Semi Final Cj Hobgood and Mick Fanning traded scores for the majority of the heat. It proved to be an exciting 30 minutes, with Fanning again pulling out all the stops to snatch the heat at the death. Fanning, ferociously paddled for a foamy wave, managed to thread through two tubes, burying himself deep on his second barrel to post a 9.07 and secure his position in the final.
Namotu V Tavarua, USA V Australia, Former World Champ V Former World Champ, the final had all the elements to make it great. With the lower tide helping the conditions, set waves still had the potential to produce high scores.
Fanning drew first blood with a 9.20, alongside Kelly getting some style points for a monstrous stand-up, no-hands lengthy tube. Unfortunately for Slater he did not make it out the doggie door; it would have been a certain 10 and he copped a beating for his troubles. Kelly quickly recovered to post an 8.83, which unfortunately for Fanning would be a throw away score.
Half way through the heat Slater grabbed a 9.80, stalling perfectly for the tube then throwing a hack to end the wave. The greatest was yet to come with Slater posting ANOTHER 10 in the competition, cementing the victory with 9 minutes to go.
Simply put, Slater was unstoppable during the finals of this event. He had four perfect 10-point rides throughout the Fiji Pro and averaged a combined score of 19.32 for his final three heats. Deservedly, Kelly was crowned champion of the 2013 Volcom Fiji Pro. Slater now has two competition wins from four starts, which is an ominous warning to the rest of the field. Although still early days, Slater is looking primed for this 12th World Title.