There are only two important things you need to know about Kelly Slater’s win yesterday at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast in Australia. One, he beat both Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson in the final minutes of their respective heats thanks to two near-perfect heat totals — and a shockingly innate sense for the barrels that were rifling down Kirra’s righthand pointbreak. And two, Kelly had this to say when asked about angling for the 2013 ASP World Title: “I’m committed to the tour this season. I decided before the contest that I was going for a title.”
Of course, it’s easy for Slater to say that after a strong finish at the season-opening event, where, over the last five years, he’s only finished lower than 9th once. The writing was on the wall, too, when, the night before the final, Kelly analyzed every last wave breaking at Kirra to figure out exactly where he would plant himself come Wednesday for the semifinal and final. “That was my game plan all day,” Kelly said after the win. “I sat on the point an hour before dark last night and watched every wave break. I basically took mental notes. I made lineups in my head, I knew exactly where the good waves were, and I don’t think anyone else did that by the looks of what Mick and Joel did… I just had a really clear game plan and wasn’t doubting it.”
So we know Kelly’s mental advantage is still intact — that was clear when he popped out of a perfect 10 at the buzzer against Mick, crushing the Coolie local’s chances at meeting best mate Joel Parkinson in the final, 19.37 – 18.60. We also know that Kelly’s tuberiding skills haven’t dimmed a bit, as evidenced by the slabby 9.89 he got to elevate himself above Parko in the final, 18.56 – 17.47. And we know that Kelly’s cruel competitive edge will never falter, as he utilized his priority by dropping into the 2012 World Champ’s final wave and preventing him from a come-from-behind victory. That even prompted the normally cucumber-cool Aussie to give Kelly a playful if resigned one-finger salute.
“If I had to handpick two guys I had the chance to beat out here, it’s Mick and Joel,” Kelly said. “I mean, that’s who I wanna surf against. Part of me would love for them to not go as far in the contest if you’re looking at the whole year. But if I wanna challenge myself, those are the best two guys out here. I beat Joel twice last year and he still won the title. You can pat yourself on the back all you want, but if you didn’t win the title, it doesn’t mean much.”
So what’s next? As all of the final four surfers — Slater, Parkinson, Fanning, and Tahitian Michel Bourez — said, “Bring on Bells.”