It took every day of the waiting period, and almost every hour for a champion to be crowned. As dusk approached on Wednesday March 13th, all of us on Kirra promenade were none the wiser on who would win, but there were only two men left in the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast 2013.
There had been much conjecture about the days, times, mornings, afternoons the heats had been run. In the end competition organiser Jake Patterson made the right call with the best surf conditions gracing us on the final day.
Predicably, throughout the event the natural footers dominated. Dane Reynolds showed us all in the early rounds why he is the most innovated surfer in the world today. Unfortunately for Reynolds, being a wild card meant he was going to have to contend with the top seeds early on in the competition, with his run coming to an end in round 3 with defeat to Joel Parkinson.
Although injuries robbed us of seeing the full repertoire of Gabriel Medina and John John Florence’s arsenal, there was no lack of quality surfing. Round 4 & 5 of the competition saw some of the best surfing and closest heats any competition has seen in recent years. The heats being stacked with talent – arguably the most talented 36 ASP crop to date – the men took to the air with the high scores following in the sometimes-messy conditions.
Bede Durbidge looks like a new man in 2013, a man possessed to recapture his form of yester year and climb his way back up the rankings. He combined his solid, power surfing with aerial manoeuvres that saw him make it to the quarters, bowing out to an on fire Slater.
Julian Wilson showed glimpses of his potential, and there is a sense of anticipation surrounding him after his Quiksilver Pro performance. There was an element of class about his round 4 victory over Michel Bourez and Parkinson. Not posting a worthy score until half way through the heat, Wilson came back from a “combo” situation to win the heat in the final minutes. More mature? More calm? Time will tell, but coming off a maiden competition win last year don’t be surprised if he gets another one or two in 2013.
You could be forgiven in thinking after round 4 that Taj Burrow was the favourite to take out the Quicksilver Pro. His stylish surfing and critical manoeuvres at pivotal times lead us to believe that he was doing what was necessary to get through the early rounds, aiming to peak in the finals. It all came unstuck in the first quarter final against Michel Bourez. Bourez was the surprise packet of the event as his power surfing was suited to the right hand point break conditions.
Bourez’s reward for his great surfing was a semi-final matchup with Parkinson at the new competition site of Kirra on the final day of the event. First wave of the heat Parkinson travelling at break neck speeds and got barrelled twice to pick up 10, making it an uphill battle for Bourez. The Tahitian was able to find a few long tubes of his own, unfortunately it wasn’t enough with his momentum crushed by the Gold Coast local.
On the other side of the draw Kelly Slater was building similar momentum. Drawn against Mick Fanning, who had been flying under the radar for most of the Pro, Slater had his work cut out. Both clearly had different game plans, Kelly positioning himself 100m away from Fanning on a section where the sand falls away and Kirra bay begins. Both traded waves, but Slater finally sealed it with a 10 point ride in the latter part of the heat.
In most neutrals eyes, the final was the dream match up. Current world champ & Gold Coast local Joel Parkinson, versus the 41-year-old 2012 runner up and 11-time world champ Kelly Slater. The current world champion had been in fine form during the event, disposing of some big names along the way. With Slater conducting himself in his usual manner, he also managed to find some time the evening before the final day to sit on the hill at Kirra and run his eye over the line up for an hour. This proved invaluable in the semi final against Fanning and also helped him in the final against Parkinson.
The final ended up being a good ol’ fashioned tube shootout. Parkinson got the final underway with an 8.63 after again making it through various sections to complete the wave. Slater got a score of his own landing an 8.73 for a long draining tube, setting the tone for the rest of the heat. With Kelly also posting a 9.89 it set up a dramatic climax in the latter stages. With three minutes to go, Parko was trolling the line-up in need of a near perfect score to win. Mother nature can often be cruel in these situations, but she blew in (upon reflection) arguably the best wave of the event. Without priority, Parko was in the perfect spot taking off then seamlessly slotting into the big throaty tube. The way Parkinson had been surfing – with the wave forming into a very long but makeable pipeline – the score would have been a 10 and potentially won the final. However, it was inevitable that Slater would be sitting in the perfect spot with priority to take the wave off Joel, who flipped him the bird in jest before bailing out the back. This use of priority sealing the victory for the 41 year old.
It is impossible to argue that Slater didn’t deserve his victory, defeating the two local favourites and current world champion in his final two heats of the competition. Congratulations to Kelly on his 52nd tour win and a great start to 2013!
See you at Bells!