Slater blows away the competition at Teahupo’o.
In one wave, six-time World Champ Kelly Slater reasserted his dominance in professional surfing. It wasn’t during the final-where he scored a record two perfect tens-but in round four against Bruce Irons. Needing a combination of scores to overcome the second-year WCTer, Slater turned it on. Taking off on a solid six-footer, Slater was held up in the lip by stiff offshore winds and free-fell down the face. Nine times out of ten, even he would have fallen-but this was Slater’s day, and the six-time world champ stuck the drop. He went into an accidental layback to recover (further proof that the 80s are still cool), weaved his way through a couple barreling sections, and emerged to the roar of the channel-side crowd. Commentators were calling it the “best ride ever” in a contest, and judges awarded it a perfect ten-his first of several for the day.
With Bruce knocked out, Slater was on a roll and went on to defeat (in order) C.J. Hobgood, Taj Burrow, and Damien Hobgood. In a crazy and unfortunate side note, for the second year in a row, a finalist was unable to finish the final because of a shoulder injury. Last year it was Nathan “The Hog” Hedge, and this year, Damien Hobgood.
“I don’t know if the initial lip hitting it knocked it out, or if it was from me hitting the water at such a high speed. I knew when I was underwater that my arm was out, though,” said Hobgood. “It wasn’t such a painful thing, it was just a real disappointment for me because I knew I was going to have to stop surfing the final and potentially miss a couple of contests-which is what’s going to happen,” he added. Damien hopes to be back by mid July for the Billabong Pro South Africa, andTransWorld SURF wishes him a speedy and full recovery.
For a complete day-to-day analysis, photos, and a Billabong Pro slide show, go to transworldsurf.com.
Official Results For The Billabong Pro Tahiti
1) Kelly Slater (USA) $30,000
2) Damien Hobgood (USA) $16,000
3) Taj Burrow (AUS), Nathan Hedge (AUS) $10,000
5) C.J. Hobgood (USA), Dean Morrison (AUS), Fred Patacchia (HAW), Paulo Moura (BRA) $8,000