November 4, 2003 (Joaquina, Florianopolis, Brasil) Six-time world championKelly Slater (FL, USA) today moved a major step closer towards clinching arecord seventh crown by winning the Nova Schin Festival WCT Brasil over MickFanning (Gold Coast, Aus). The US$250,000 ASP World Championship Tournament(WCT) relocated two hours drive south to Imbituba, with round four ofkicking off the action. A capacity beach crowd with tens of thousands thenwatched as the final rounds unfolded this afternoon.
Solid 6ft (2m) surf was on offer at Praia Da Vila, with the best waves seenduring the entire event. Long righthanders reminiscent of Haleiwa, Hawaii,gave competitors plenty of room to perform multiple maneuvers down the line.
Slater, fresh from a third WCT win in Spain last event, marked his territorythroughout today’s business end of the draw with incredible surfing. The31-year-old posted the only perfect 10 of the tournament, together with thehighest combined total of 18.67-points during the quarterfinals. Then in themain decider he created an early lead. The lead changed midway, but theFloridian then nailed his 27th event title with the final’s top score of9.37-points.
“This is the craziest crowd I’ve ever seen in my life,” began Slater, overthe deafening sound of thousands surrounding him. “I thought it was mad whenI first started, but this is heavy. Andy was really running away there (onthe ratings), and we were all trying to play catch up, so to match him withfour wins feels amazing.
“I couldn’t hear the scores, but I knew Mick got the score he was needinghalfway,” he continued, of the final itself. “So I needed a good wave,basically, and I guess I pulled it off. I didn’t see his last wave, but he’sbeen surfing so well. Neither of us could hear what happened for abouttwo-minutes after, but it’s a pretty awesome feeling to come off the beachto applause like that.
“I’m excited,” he added, of the coming events in Hawaii. “For me personally,it was real important to try and win this contest after Andy fell out andTaj lost yesterday. Right now everyone is there together at the top… Thissea of people is incredible though. You come to Brazil and feel like a rockstar.”
Fanning had been stopped in four semifinals earlier this season, but finallybroke the voodoo to face Slater today. The 2002 ASP ‘Rookie of the Year’then took it to the champ and held the lead toward the end after his best8.17 ride. Following his opponent’s last wave however, the 22-year-oldrequired an additional 8.21 score. He caught another, but only posted a 7.93and was forced to settle with his second consecutive runner-up finish inBrazil.
“It feels good to have made the final,” said Fanning. “I’m a littlefrustrated right now, as I thought if I could just get a good wave I couldhave done something. I was really tired… but that’s just the way it goes.I’m stoked to have come back to Brazil and made another final, but sick ofgetting second here (laughs). I’d just like to thank all the Brazilianpeople. They’ve been incredible and just made my trip so enjoyable.Obrigado.
“I’m pretty psyched for Hawaii,” he added. “But right now I’m going to havea beer with the boys.”
Equal third were Taylor Knox (CA, USA) and Brazilian wildcard Renan Rocha -both collecting US$10,000. Knox was stopped by an in-form Fanning, who leftthe Californian searching for a combination of rides worth 16.95-points. Histhird semifinal finish of the year cemented his current #7 position.
“That heat went so badly for me it’s funny and I’m not even mad about it,”said Knox. “I gave him a good wave at the beginning and he was in rhythm andI never got in it. I’m kind of surprised I did so well in this event sincethe airlines broke some of my boards on the way over and I never felt like I had the right equipment.
“He’s actually going to buy me a business-class seat home because of that,”he added of Slater’s pledge, following Ironss elimination to Knox. “Off toHawaii next, so the tour goes on.”
Rocha, a seasoned WCT campaigner who fell off the elite ranks last year,continued his great run past fellow countryman Peterson Rosa this morningand then Kieren Perrow (Bryon Bay, Aus) in the quarters. Against Slater histactics of catching lefts resulted in some great rides, but unfortunatelydidn’t match the scores of his opponent. Nonetheless, he carried the prideof the massive crowd furthest and did them extremely proud.
“Kelly’s the best surfer in the world, as everyone knows,” began Rocha. “Iwas looking for the lefts to get some nice waves and try to get the bigscores. It was just so unbelievable to be out there with this crowd. I’m sostoked to feel something like that, with the public sending me such goodvibes. I can’t forget this.”
Finishing equal fifth in the Nova Schin Festival WCT Brasil were RichieLovett (Manly, Aus), reigning world champion Andy Irons (Kauai, Haw), LeeWinkler (Coff’s Harbour, Aus) and Perrow.
Irons was stopped by Knox in a close quarterfinal clash and showed thefrustration afterward by leaving the beach immediately with hopes ofcatching a flight home. Nonetheless, he retained his runner-up position onthe current ratings heading into the final two events in Hawaii.
For Winkler, the result marked his best of the season and moved into 31stposition on the ratings as he strives to ensure his re-qualification fornext year’s tour. Against Slater he rose to the occasion with some greatrides, but his opponent turned on the magic with the top scores of theevent.
“It was good to get this far, but of course I had to draw someone like him,”reasoned Winkler. “At J-Bay (SAfr) he got a 10 and a 9.5 against me, so Iwasn’t expecting any less and he went out there and did the same thingpretty much. He waxed me, but it was a good experience and I’m not soover-awed by him anymore. It wasn’t my day out there though, it was his.”
The WCT now heads to Hawaii for the final two men’s events of the year.First is the Rip Curl Cup at Sunset Beach (Nov 24 – Dec 7) and then the 2003season reaches its climax during the Xbox Pipeline Masters (Dec 8-20).
Nova Schin Festival WCT Brasil 2003
1st Kelly Slater (USA) 16.37 – US$30,000
2nd Mick Fanning (Aus) 16.1 – US$16,000
Semifinals (1st>Final; 2nd=3rd receives US$10,000)
SF1: Mick Fanning (Aus) 16.94 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 11.07
SF2: Kelly Slater (USA) 17.5 def. Renan Rocha (Brz) 13.57
Quarterfinals (1st>Semifinals; 2nd=5th receives US$8,000)
QF1: Mick Fanning (Aus) 17.5 def. Richie Lovett (Aus) 15.37
QF2: Taylor Knox (USA) 13.17 def. Andy Irons (Haw) 12.1
QF3: Kelly Slater (USA) 18.67 def. Lee Winkler (Aus) 12.0
QF4: Renan Rocha (Brz) 13.5 def. Kieren Perrow (Aus) 5.44
Round Four (1st>Quarterfinals; 2nd=9th receives US$5,000)
H1: Mick Fanning (Aus) 16.83 def. Jake Paterson (Aus) 12.84
H2: Richie Lovett (Aus) 14.43 def. Joel Parkinson (Aus) 13.44
H3: Taylor Knox (USA) 14.0 def. Beau Emerton (Aus) 10.7
H4: Andy Irons (Haw) 16.6 def. Trent Munro (Aus) 12.5
H5: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.43 def. Kalani Robb (Haw) 15.0
H6: Lee Winkler (Aus) 11.67 def. Michael Lowe (Aus) 7.17
H7: Renan Rocha (Brz) 13.67 def. Peterson Rosa (Brz) 12.33
H8: Kieren Perrow (Aus) 13.4 def. Shea Lopez (USA) 11.67
Current ratings after ASP event #10/12
1. Kelly Slater (USA) 8,340-points
2. Andy Irons (Haw) 7,692
3. Mick Fanning (Aus) 7,080
4. Taj Burrow (Aus) 7,020
5. Kieren Perrow (Aus) 6,480
6. Joel Parkinson (Aus) 6,420
7. Taylor Knox (USA) 6,000
8. Mick Lowe (Aus) 5,700
9. Dean Morrison (Aus) 5,340
10. Shea Lopez (USA) 5,256