Eight-time world champion Kelly Slater (Florida, USA) is back on top of the surfing world, defeating reigning world champion Mick Fanning (Coolangatta, Qld, Aus) to win his second Quiksilver Pro crown on the Gold Coast today. The event was Slater’s 35th career major win and his 50th appearance in a major final. Slater earlier disposed of Hawaii’s Andy Irons, a 3-time world champ, in the quarterfinals.
Slater combined his classy trademark moves with new-age flair to beat Fanning in fading 1-metre plus waves at Snapper Rocks.
Following bumper crowds over the weekend, thousands of fans lined the beach to cheer on the sports top names as they injected new life into professional surfing in clear skies and the best surf conditions seen in the past week.
The Floridian, who last won the event in 2006, dominated the Snapper line-up posting a 8.67 and a 9.27 for a 17.93 total to collect $30,000 (USD), 1,200 rating point and a lead in the race for the 2008 ASP Men’s World Tour crown.
The 36-year-old star emerged victorious from the line-up, having earlier disposed of world no. 8 Jeremy Flores (FRA) in the semi-finals, three-times world champion Andy Irons (Kauai, Haw) in the quarters and Brazilian prodigy Adriano De Souza (Brz) in the fourth round.
But, the former world champion has said he will not contest this months world tour event at Bells Beach, opting to return home to Florida.
Defending champion Fanning couldn’t repeat his win from 2007 finishing behind Slater in the man-on-man final, netting a 9.33 and a 5.90 for a 15.23 total.
Even so, Fanning claimed second spot in the 2008 ratings, heading home with $18,000 and a great start to his world title defense.
Spectators were treated to some phenomenal surfing in semifinal one with Fanning and Currumbin ace Bede Durbidge (Qld, Aus) going all out in their 35 minute encounter.
25-year-old Durbidge, who finished runner-up to Fanning in last years event, began strongly when he linked together multiple powerful rail turns on a sizable wall to score an 8.17 his opening ride.
But in true Fanning style, he stole the lead with a near-perfect 9.00 wave score, forcing Durbidge to chase an 8.74 to claim victory.
With his back to the wall, Durbidge could only muster a 3.17 in the final 30 seconds, exiting the event placed equal third and in a fantastic position for an assault on the 2008 world surfing crown.
Fanning finishing on top with a 17.23 total to Durbidge’s 16.67.
Semi-final two was just as nail biting with Slater defying a slow start to cast aside 2007 Rookie of the Year Flores (Fra).
Never to be underestimated, Slater bounced back from a combo situation to jag an excellent scoring 9.80 and 5.67 to finish just 0.40 of a point ahead of Flores. Final scores Slater (15.47) to Flores (15.17)
19-year-old Flores, the youngest ever surfer to qualify for elite tour, proved he will be a force to be reckoned with in 2008, finishing in equal third.
2002 event champion Joel Parkinson (Coolangatta, Qld, Aus) was eliminated in equal 5th place, dusted by compatriot and good friend Durbidge in thrilling circumstances.
In a repeat of their incredible quarterfinal showdown in last years event, Durbidge came back from a slow start to snare a last-minute wave, out pointing Parkinson’s 15.34 to his 16.66.
2003 tournament champion Dean Morrison (Coolangatta, Qld, Aus) suffered a similar fate, knocked out by Fanning in the battle of the Coolangatta Kids.
27-year-old Morrison was unable to replicate the form that saw him defeat talented 2008 tour rookies Jordy Smith (Durban, ZAF) and Dane Reynolds in earlier rounds, left requiring a 6.61 for victory in their tight quarterfinal clash.
The Snapper star only managing a 2.83 in the last 30 seconds to hand reigning world champion Fanning victory.
Unheralded Australian Adrian Buchan (Avoca, NSW, Aus) scored his best result to date on surfings dreeam tour, finishing equal fifth after going down to Flores in his quarterfinal clash.
After leading for the majority of the 35-minute heat, Buchan finished behind on the two-wave combined total 11.16 to Flores 15.94.
26-year-old Buchan (Avoca, NSW, Aus) caused a major upset earlier in the day, bundling out three-time world title runner-up and world no.2 Taj Burrow (Yallingup, WA, Aus) in round four.
The polished goofy foot stepped it up a level to defeat 29-year-old Burrow 15.84 to 12.00.
Three-time World Champion Andy Irons (Kauai, Haw) was trumped by Slater in the last quarterfinal of the day, heading home with an equal 5th placing.
With 11 world surfing crowns between them, Slater got the better of his rival, unleashing some fluid maneuvers to outscore Irons.
South African prodigy Jordy Smith (Durban, ZAF) failed to live up to his hype, ousted by an inform Morrison in their highly anticipated round four heat.
Great Brazilian hope Adriano De Souza reminded everyone of his amazing talent, pushing King Kelly to the final siren in their sudden death round three heat.
The savvy natural foot fought back from a combo (requiring a two-wave combination) to go down by a point, 17.50 to Slater’s 18.50.