South Africa’s Jordy Smith placed fifth as Kelly Slater successfully defended his Volcom Fiji Pro surfing title in pumping two to three metre waves at Cloudbreak and catapulted himself into the No. 1 spot on the ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) rankings.
Smith could not match the incredible tube-riding skills of Hawaiian standout John John Florence, 20, in the first of the quarter-finals this morning. Opening his account with a near perfect 9.13 out of 10, Florence went on to post his second perfect 10 point ride of the event at the end of the heat, leaving Smith needing to improve on both his counting scores of 7.27 and 6.40.
Jordy Smith deep inside a Cloudbreak tube – Photo by ASP / Kirstin
His fifth place finish earned Smith US $14 500 (approx. R145 000) and 5 200 invaluable points which saw him jump two places up the ASP WCT rankings to No. 3 and right into contention for the 2013 ASP World title with four of the 10 events completed.
Slater (USA), 41, built momentum throughout the Volcom Fiji Pro, peaking on the final day of competition. The 11-time ASP World Champion’s road to victory included a perfect 20-point heat against Sebastian Zeitz (HAW), 25, in the quarter-finals, a victory over Florence in the semi-finals and culminated with a win over Mick Fanning (AUS), 31, in the final that included a near-perfect 19.80 out of 20 heat total.
“What a day,” Slater said. “That was insane. I want to dedicate this to my brother and his wife and their new kid Van. He told me that if I missed the birth of his son, that I’d better win, so this is for you. I want to say hi to everyone at home. What can I say, what a day.”
Slater made history in his quarter-final match against Zietz, collecting only the fourth perfect 20-point heat score on ASP record. Slater’s two unbelievable 10 point rides were earned through deep backhand tube-riding and while the Floridian has netted many perfect 10-point single-wave scores, the perfect 20 heat marks only the second of Slater’s lengthy career.
Kelly Slater styling inside a huge barrel at Cloudbreak on his way to another perfect 10 point ride and victory in the Volcom Fiji Pro – Photo by ASP / Kirstin
“The waves are the stars today,” Slater said. “When they come, they’re unbelievable. I missed one in that heat that was insane. It’s a special thing if you can get a 10 in a heat, so I’m really stoked.”
Fanning displayed incredible backhand barrel-riding skills at Cloudbreak, driving through deep tubes and unloading massive turns on his way to the final. Fanning defeated close friend and reigning ASP World Champion Joel Parkinson (AUS), 32, in the quarters and deadly goofy-footer C.J. Hobgood (USA), 33, in the semis but was unable to match Slater in the final.
“I’m pretty stoked,” Fanning said. “I started off with the 9.2 and saw Kelly on the one behind it. When Kelly didn’t get a 10 on his first wave, I thought, ‘I’m still in this,’ but then he shut the door on the next one. Overall I’m happy. I didn’t really have a good start to this event and then at the end it came good.”
John John Florence marked an incredible return to competition following an injury sustained on the Gold Coast, collecting two perfect 10-point rides over the course of the event while taking an equal 3rd place finish. Florence looked deadly again on the final day, outscoring South African powerhouse Jordy Smith (ZAF), 25, in their quarter-final clash, but was unable to surpass Slater’s rampage in the semis.
“It would have been nice to go one round further and make the finals, but a third is a good result and we got sick waves throughout the event,” Florence said. “To get a third in my first event back since my injury is a good start and hopefully I can do well in Bali.”
C.J. Hobgood got the best of several scrappy heats throughout the event, but found some excellent barrels in his semi-final match-up against Mick Fanning. Unfortunately for Hobgood, Fanning found a buzzer-beating wave in the final seconds of their match-up, handing Hobgood an equal 3rd place finish.
“I had some really slow heats throughout the event, but making it that far, you always want to make the final,” Hobgood said. “Mick and I actually had some good waves in that heat finally, and he just got me at the end. It’s a bummer to lose at the end of the heat like that, but congrats to Mick on the win.”
2013 Volcom Fiji Pro – Day Four Highlights
The next stop on the ASP WCT will be the Oakley Pro Bali, which holds a waiting period from June 18-29, 2013.
VOLCOM FIJI PRO FINAL:
1 - Kelly Slater (USA) 19.80
2 - Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.87
VOLCOM FIJI PRO SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:
SF 1: Kelly Slater (USA) 18.17 def. John John Florence (HAW) 14.00
SF 2: Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.07 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 16.70
VOLCOM FIJI PRO QUARTER-FINALS RESULTS:
QF 1: John John Florence (HAW) 19.06 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.67
QF 2: Kelly Slater (USA) 20 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 4.10
QF 3: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 7.77 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 7.50
QF 4: Mick Fanning (AUS) 12.13 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 11.83
ASP World Championship Tour Rankings (After Volcom Fiji Pro)
1. Kelly Slater (USA) – 26950 points
2. Mick Fanning (AUS) – 26200
3. Jordy Smith (ZAF) – 23450
4. Taj Burrow (AUS) – 19700
5. Adriano De Souza (BRA) – 19000
20. Travis Logie (ZAF) – 8000