Kelly Slater falls at the Oakley Pro Bali


The waves on Wednesday left no doubt that the righthander at Keramas is one of the best Bali has to offer. The break dished another round of throaty tubes, racy walls, and mega ramps for the world’s best to feast on Wednesday, and while there were a number of impressive performances in the non-elimination fourth round, the stakes were raised in Round 5, where three scores proved pivotal on the day, and likely the year. Counting them down in order, here’s what they were.

Kelly Slater’s hard 8.0
After his win in Fiji, Kelly Slater felt a bit of uncertainty about Bali, and for good reason. Unlike all other tour venues, the champ has no track record at Keramas to lean on for reference. Being the chess player he is, that’s a problem. Slater prides himself on knowing exactly how his competitors are going to approach every heat. His ability to neutralize their best laid plans is legendary. With hollow tubes and clean faces on tap, conditions favored Slater over C.J. Hobgood when they paddled out for their Round 5 match Wednesday. All Slater had to seemingly do was take to the tubes that Joel Parkinson and John John Florence were enjoying in the heat before.

Slater's ferocious forehand attack wasn't enough in to get him into the quarterfinal.
Slater’s ferocious forehand attack wasn’t enough to get him into the quarterfinal.

But after waiting out a near 10-minute lull, the wind turned, quickly melting the tubes away. In the blink of an eye conditions changed, and so too did the scoring. Hobgood immediately went to work on his backhand, unleashing a lethal vertical attack that netted him the first 9.0 ride of the day that didn’t include a tube ride. Slater looked baffled as he tried to adjust. After a few failed aerials, he finally leaned hard into a solid righthander. Midway through he gouged one of the most ferocious turns of the event, a full-tilt Slater scorcher in the pocket that leveraged all four of his fins and his entire inside rail. Unfortunately, the most the judges could award him was a 7.4, as the wave didn’t allow him much room to do more. In a rare act of desperation Kelly went all Hail Mary after that, trying to stick some miracle airs. Apparently somebody upstairs realized C.J. goes to church a lot more often.

C.J. Hobgood’s mission impossible
To understand how hungry C.J. Hobgood is these days consider the following: after making the semifinal in Fiji on the final day of the Volcom Fiji Pro, he flew all the way to Orlando, Florida, to be with his wife and new baby. The 2001 world champion, who is still lacking a major sponsor, got to enjoy a single day of domestic bliss before jumping on a plane for another 18 hours to head back to work. I ran into him in

CJ Hobgood's backhand is a perfect fit for the tight pocket of Keramas. He'll need to put it to work against Josh Kerr in the quarterfinals.
C.J. Hobgood’s backhand is a perfect fit for the tight pocket of Keramas. He’ll need to put it to work against Josh Kerr in the quarterfinals.

Taipei during a layover, where we caught up briefly on family and friends. His eyes got watery during the discussion. All you need to know about C.J. is the burning in his belly is based purely on providing. It’s hard not to be conflicted when the job you love takes you away from people you love even more. He wants to be home. He needs to be gone. He knows what he’s missing. But at the same time he truly appreciates everything he has. The best way for him to deal with all this contradictory agony is to surf well. Fortunately for C.J., he’s doing exactly that. Nobody gave him much of a chance against Slater. But his aforementioned 9.0 helped him clinch a win that was well deserved, and quite refreshing considering he’s lost to Slater in every man-on-man match they’ve had together but one. And the thing is … he could keep climbing with the Billabong Pro Teahupoo on the horizon.

About those two Joel Parkinson 10s
The ASP judges are easy targets—always. So picking on them takes absolutely zero courage. Unfortunately, they can’t help but bring it on themselves, and they’re dealing with another round of abuse after screwing up the highly anticipated Joel Parkinson versus John John Florence clash. Their mistake came early, when they awarded John John a 9.2 on his opening ride, leaving them little wiggle room for later. When Parko immediately emerged from a deeper tube, they had no choice but to go higher. And with the waves getting progressively better, things got out of hand. Parko’s next ride was even better than his first, and the judges had no choice but to give him a 10. Ten minutes later he got another bomb that made his first 10 look like a 7. They had no choice but to give him another perfect score. The problem here isn’t that Parko didn’t deserve to win—he did. But John John, who had two 9.0 rides of his own, certainly didn’t deserve to be comboed. The ASP brand is degraded when perfect heat scores (which are more rare than perfect games in baseball) are awarded unwittingly. Good on Parko, but perfect should be perfect. His first 10 was not.

UPCOMING OAKLEY PRO BALI QUARTERFINAL MATCH-UPS:
QF 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Joel Parkinson (AUS)
QF 2: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. C.J. Hobgood (USA)
QF 3: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Nat Young (USA)
QF 4: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Mick Fanning (AUS)

ASP world tour leader Kelly Slater was defeated at the Oakley Pro Bali on Wednesday by an in form CJ Hobgood in Round Five. Slater will now be playing catch up to Mick Fanning in the race for this year's world title.
ASP World Tour leader Kelly Slater was defeated at the Oakley Pro Bali on Wednesday by an in form C.J. Hobgood in Round 5. Slater will now be playing catch-up to Mick Fanning in the race for this year’s world title.