The world title race just got a whole lot more interesting, as world No. 2 Kelly Slater and No. 3 Mick Fanning both suffered shock eliminations at the Rip Curl Pro at Supertubos in Portugal on Thursday. Kelly had a nightmare of a heat against Raoni Monteiro in round three, with both surfers unable to find a decent ride in the heat, and Kelly fell short with a 5.27 to a 9.20. This is Slater’s third bad result, and having used up his two throwaways, he will be forced to count this 13th place finish among his results towards a 12th world title.
Mick fared much better, dropping several great scores in round five against Owen Wright, leading most of the heat. Yet he still lost as Owen fought back with the day’s second 10-point ride, quickly backed by an 8 just before the buzzer. A priority mistake by Mick ended up giving Owen the opportunity he needed. Mick was left out the back, punching his board while his third bad result of the year, a ninth, will be etched into his result total. This is Mick’s second bad result in a row, as he is coming off a 13th in France.
This is great news for world No. 4 John John Florence and current frontrunner Joel Parkinson, who are set to face each other in a highly anticipated quarterfinal clash. John John trails Joel by 7,050 points, so a win for him would be big news for his title hopes, as Joel will be looking to pad his lead.
Thanks to the unpredictable nature of our ocean, competitive surfing rarely features an even playing field, and today’s action in Portugal was another great example. With the waiting period of the Rip Curl Pro winding down and storms plaguing conditions, both surfers and event directors were expecting to run heats in whatever Supertubos offered. Leftover bump from the overnight wind made for very difficult conditions, especially for the first half of the day.
The all-important winds are forecasted to be light tomorrow, so look for the event to wrap up in the morning with the last heat of round five, followed by the quarterfinals.