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Tomorrow Gets Me Higher

Josh Kerr has straw-coloured hair, a scar on his cheek and the world tour’s most consummate aerial swagger. He invents swirl-flavours (the Kerrupt!) and makes any lineup look like a skatepark. So, when Kelly Slater threw the most impressive full-roter ever seen in a jersey, during the final of the Rip Curl Pro, Bells Beach, we could think of no one better to break it down for us. But that ain’t all we talked about. Josh also says Kelly would’ve won the contest if it’d been in the US, that it should be the Winkipop Pro and that he’s ditched the headphones and pre-heat focus for 2012. Kid was ‘sorting some things out’ on the Gold Coast before heading back to Cali when he clicked green on Stab‘s call. Read on, we dare!

Kelly’s 10 in the final. Discuss. That thing… was… absolutely… messed up. And really, really well executed. It was definitely one of the bigger no-grab to-the-flat full-rotations I’ve ever seen. I think Wade Goodall is one of the only other guys who would try a big spin out to the flats like that. That one Kelly did… it’s an ankle-breaking manoeuvre. That’s all I think about when I see that – just broken ankles. When he’s combo’d is the only time he does those things, in those situations. I’ve never seen him do something like that freesurfing or on video or anything like that. He’s a proper, ridiculous sportsman, because he rises even above his own level when he’s in the heat of competition. It’s the biggest frontside full-rote ever done in competition, for sure. He hucked that thing and didn’t get one bit of cushion before he landed on the flats. He had a long way down.

He literally threw caution to the wind. If he was gonna do an air into that side/offshore wind, that was the only real option. The only way to get your board into that wind is by projecting out when throwing the rotation – that’s how you get your board flat against the wind. He knows that. He’s smart as hell. He knew exactly what he was doing and knew he had a chance. And I’ll tell you what – out there, it’s frigging close-to-impossible to do airs.

Few can carry the control Josh does through hucks like this. Photo courtesy Rip Curl.

Who, in your eyes, won the final? You know what? Kelly obviously did the best manoeuvres in the final, by a mile. But, it’s one of those ones where it could’ve gone either way. Generally when it can go either way, it’ll go Kelly’s way. And that’s why it’s kinda weird that it didn’t. But you know, it can’t always go his way and that’s what happened. For Mick, I’m sure it helped that it was down at Bells and in Australia. I have a feeling if that final had been at Trestles, Kelly would’ve won. But, like I said, you can’t hate on the judges when it can go either way. I mean, I watched it live and… I wouldn’t say Mick didn’t win, that’s for sure.

If you were the grand architect of the 2013 WT, would Bells be on the schedule? I would’ve almost actually said no until probably this year. Just because the surfing we saw this year was ridiculous. But I don’t know if that’s the level of surfing or if the waves just happened to allow it more. I haven’t surfed Bells an abundance of times, but I mean, Winkipop was better during the whole contest. I wish it could be the Winkipop Pro. But, you can’t hate on history. And, it took me out of my element – I was riding a board that I would never normally ride in those kind of waves. You just need to ride a longer board. I guess it tests different elements of your surfing, it can show your weaknesses, it can show some strengths so, y’know, it’s just another wave I guess. But, what am I saying, if I was architect of course I wouldn’t leave it on! But, that it is there isn’t a bad thing. If I was designing my own tour, the whole thing would be in Indo.

You were on and off tour for five consecutive years. You have steam coming off you lately. Does this year feel different? No, not at all. Even though I did well last year, I swear I went into this year with zero confidence, just going, woo, I got super lucky last year but that can’t happen again this year! But I haven’t changed anything. I’ve just been going out and surfing. I’ve learnt to simplify my competitive regime, which is just going out, catching two waves and trying to rip on every wave I catch. It’s that simple. No headphones and focusing before heats. Just keeping loose, having fun and trying to show it in my surfing. – Elliot Struck

Gawdamn it, if Josh don't have the kinkiest little tailblow Stab ever did see... Photo courtesy of Rip Curl.

  • Esdee

    Yes, Kelly is extremely smart. Knows how to get shit done, that’s for sure. On a side, I’ve been loving these Kerrzy v Kelly match ups.

  • yap

    wise words from kerrzy, like it.

    • Megaspray

      Diplomatic words from Kerrzy more like it.

  • Luciano

    yeah, nice interview, love when you put a surfer to talk about other surfer. keep doing that. i’d love to hear more from those 34 guys

  • Marcelo

    “Generally when it can go either way, it’ll go Kelly’s way. ” … What about the two consecutive loses down at Margies, kelly won those ones in my eyes…

    Anyway, very nice interview indeed, so cool to have these insights from the pros. Nice one Stab and Kerzy

    • Matt OBrien

      Stoked I wasn’t the only one who noticed that. Also might explaing the Bede “win” over Kolohe in there round 2 match up.

  • Baron

    Eugene owned kelly! Never seen Slatz so desperate…better watch it again ace.

    • k

      not even

  • Stevo

    I watched from the beach. Micks waves were so much bigger and proper bowl waves,Kelly was chasing small inside waves. I was amazed how bad the vision was when I watched online later on. Sure Kelly 10 was amazing, his 8’s were spot on when compared to micks 9s. Goes to show unless your there don’t trust the webcast as it does not give a true indication to the situation

    • jesse

      yeah, and we all know you should get more points for riding a bigger wave…give me a break. its not the size of the wave, its what you do on them that counts…

      • samgreen

        If things like this bother you you should check the criteria, because size of wave has always had a substantial influence on the score, just like the turns you do on them does.

  • NiceBugJosh

    A. sure miss AI

    B. how come women don’t often do airs ?

    C. i miss Dane.

    • blonde hair huge toys

      who will pull the first superwoman air?

  • hey zuess

    Mick Surfed that heat amazing and exactly how bells should be surfed. Fluid with style power and the biggest hack combo’s. Kelly’s ten was fricken amazing and got him the rewards on a wave thats designed for multiple manouvers. Other than that he went about bedazzling spectators with tricks and flicks designed to make it look like he was surfing better and harder than he actually was. Was a close heat and that was reflected in the points. But Micks 9.70 won him the day and all those points were racked up with the 3 biggest linked turns out the back. No-one else had put 3 turns on the outside section together like that the whole comp. If he’d finished strongly that could’ve been a ten too.

    • Al Goodwin

      I think the heat was ruined by the judges on Micks first wave. I was pretty surprised to see Mick do such a brazo claim on a wave that was basically one real good turn and an average air. The judges took it hook line and sinker and left themselves with too narrow a window for the rest of the heat. The rest of the heat was sick. I hope they learnt their lesson its one of the basics of judging.

      • used to judge pro contests

        yep….the scale was set too early in the game…first wave of the final…9.7?

        • Chad

          Was a 9.1 not 9.7 with comments like that you could get a gig with the commentary team

      • VigilantASPfan

        I honestly think its an ongoing problem. Remember Adriano’s floater?

    • Roly

      Are you an Aussie by any chance ? Ha! You lot talk some serious drivel at times.

  • your mom

    everyone seems to forget that wave selection is part of the judging criteria as well, so Mick’s scores reflect that. Kelly killed it, but Mick did 3 huge turns on arguably the best set wave of the final.
    but comment number 10 makes three excellent points…

    • VigilantASPfan

      Wave selection is not part of the criteria, it used to be. Remember Adriano’s floater? how many guys did one or two huge turns and got out of the wave and got 8’s? A lot… How many did the same at snapper? A lot…

  • GroundSwell

    I like Beer.

  • Kelper/Welcher

    I am assmonkeys bitch.

    • samgreen


  • John John Bel

    WELL MICK WINS, I´ll probably guess that from now on, the top seeds will dominate the tour till Fiji, in the mid-year Medina will probably win those beach breaks, and after that, john john will get that pipe tittle again. Who´s gonna win the title??? Dane Reynolds and his “greenhead” Ventura manouvers!!!

  • Cube

    Fiji! It’l be interesting to see them in top to bottom lefts. You’d think Owen might step up. Strong in the tube and if it’s smaller he’ll throw those Avatar airs on the inside. I think it may expose a heap of the regular footers, feels like the goofy’s get pretty tough run on tour right now.

    • Hahwaii!

      “… feels like the goofy’s get pretty tough run on tour right now.” Except for three of the heaviest waves on the planet that is. Regular foots have it good at the crappier breaks, which is probably to their advantage (on the other side of things, looking forward to seeing John John on his backhand in Fiji and Tahiti, as well as seeing how the rest of the “new crop” handles there … even though Medina made it to the quarters at Pipe, I wasn’t that convinced: Not that I could do better, but I think he made it all the way to quarters there without ever scoring more than 10 points total in a heat, and then Perrow schooled him.) Whatever, like I say, he could surf rings around me anywhere in the world, so I’ll shut my pie hole now…

  • Paulo Vieira

    Good work, I saw your video, It is clear how Kelly was underscored and Mick was overscored. The ASP should shamed of that.

  • Ice

    Good point on the three heavier waves, I’m with you. Altho, two of them are pretty much point and shoot jobs. A matter of figs more than anything. Fiji when it’s 6 foot is super rippable, so it’l give the natural footers an edge. Medina’s a clever little fucker, indeed.

  • Ranez

    Micks 3 outside turns were true vertical top turns positioned in the most critical section busting the lip and throwing the fins out with precise timing to maintain flow and link to the next turn. Kelly’s turns were more mid face/3/4 face snaps under the lip- less critical. This video highlights this clearly, vigilant seems hung up on comparing ‘spray’ thrown- missing the whole picture

    • VigilantASPfan

      Mick’s second turn was less vert than Slater’s first or second turn. I’m not sure what camera angle you watched. Falling at the end also deducts points. Also, Slater had 2 extra moves… this should easily have added extra score to Slaters wave, even if the outside were scored a 7.5, slater should have had a 9 by the time he kicked out. Slater wins.

      • Hailong

        Now as an ISA judge I may be able to shed a little light here. Firstly, falling does not deduct points. A wave score is calculated based on completed manouvres and so Mick missed out on adding to his score (which was always going to be high as soon as the first turn was completed.) The first trick will always determine a large portion of the score (as judges don’t want to see a wave start with safe-playing), the second is then worth slightly less and so on. I see where you’re coming from, but under the criteria as they stand that last move was never going to be a huge factor to the score as the outside work was outstanding. Not just critical but the style and flow also contributed to the higher score. Now if I was going to be picky I’d question whether Slater landing just one trick on a wave which would have given another section if used differently should be worth a 10, but given the awesomeness of that huck I’ll happily make an exception….

      • samgreen

        No falling does not deduct points at all. Heard from a judge (although this is obvious and easy to work out yourself) that you only get scored for what you do complete, not penalised for what could of happened.

  • DB

    Insane final, they both won in my eyes. Only way it could have been better is if they would have tied and Mick got the nod with the higher back up score. Micks 9.7 was spot on. Slaters two 8.07 seemed a little low to me. He ripped the s–t out of one of those that could have easily been a high 8 or low 9. Congrats to both, great surfing.

    • VigilantASPfan

      of course Slater was underscored. go watch the video on my youtube page: VigilantASPfan

  • the tinkler

    another miget with a balding head , a little more interesting than pro surfing , dont u think!

  • red

    kelly won easy 8.07 give me a break that was easy a 9 any other heat would have been a 9.5 mik was good but not as good as the 11 time champ that is why he only has 2

  • john

    how many of those top guys can do a 360 carve in a contest..thats worth 10 alone in my book..

  • Tapski

    I am over the 10 points for one turn crap… What if he got a gtood barrel, came out, smacked it off the top anf finshed with that move… Score a 15? Back to the 1990’s beachbreaks, bums on seats, and paying one turn as a wave score… Old scholl maybe, but I do not think that one turn can be a 10.

    • Roly

      I can’t believe the tripe that some people come out with on here. ‘one turn’!? Is that what that was? Really?…. Or was it the most insane air ever pulled off in competitive surfing? Get a grip mate, do you realise how difficult that was!? Mick rips without doubt and surfed extremely well. However he’s repetitive and displays nowhere near as much innovation and/or variety as Kel. Only one man won that heat, and only one man is pushing the boundaries in (on the world stage). He’s old, he’s bald and he’s a genius.

    • samgreen

      I know what you mean but it’s widely acknowledged that the 10 point air was the best air ever done in competition, at this point no one is doing the combination you described. Maybe in a few years when airs like that are a bit more common we might see the aforementioned combo and the criteria/expectations will shift accordingly.

  • jesse

    your new comments section is immensely better, although it’d be even better with threaded responses. btw kelly shoulda won…

    • bodhi

      Yes, maybe threaded but definitely with a thumbs up/down system, like in youtube. Can’t stand those whining cunts anymore. Get a life bitches, Mick is 75K richer and you ficks are still is denial. Move on.

  • zsurf

    Yeah, 10 points for one move (except at Teahupoo) is over rated but that’s consistent with what the judges do. However, Kelly’s 8.07 was way better than Mick’s second scoring wave and he didn’t fall at the end. Unfortunately Kelly got ripped this time!

  • Waves

    Mick deserved that for sure.. 10 POINTS FOR ONE MOVE!! are you kidding me.. Its not a shit one manouvre closeout beachie, but an awesome, long, rippable wave. Fair enough that was one of the most epic aerials seen in comp but what made it look so impressive was the fact that he landed out on the flats which made the drop massive and everyone wonder how the hell his ankles didn’t explode.. it was a close-out move out the back with no possibility of continuing into further manouvres down the line. If you look at kerrsey when he was in margrets last year, he threw a massive reverse and landed it perfectly, on the face, allowing him to continue down the line and do some more damage..

    I do agree that Kelly’s second wave did seem underscored but it was a smaller wave then Micks and I disagree that wave selection isn’t part of the criteria any more.. Look at Pipe and teahpoo.. Small inside barrel def doesn’t score as good as set of the day. Mick connected his turns on the outer bowl perfectly on a bigger and better wave and desrved to win that heat… Just..

  • 2 cents

    Bells is about big carves and flow, Slater lacked the flow compared to Micks. I’ve watched it over and over and it becomes clearer the more you watch. thanks..

  • 2 cents

    ok just watched it again.. oh my god Mick actually did win it, the 9.7 is so much faster than slaters 8.07 the turns are intense and with power. watch them in real time not slow mo its clear as day!! Slaters turns were flicky and slow and he gets caught up.

    Im sick of you people just getting clouded by your holy leader Kelly. he surfs to your emotions, he knows it and knows he’s doing it. this time though people…..the judges saw through this hazy cloud and viewed the vista of reality, and that was Mick Blowing the s#*t out of Bells with speed, flow and power than your beloved Slater. That is all… i just need the whole world to see this, to maybe pull some people out from behind the Kelly cloud.

    Ahh that was fun.

    • Senorita Productions

      People don’t tune into webcasts from all over the globe to see a wave catching contest. Mick’s waves were bigger. Good job, who cares?! i thought it was about critical surfing…. radicalness of manuevers… variety… progressive surfing… flair (whatever that means)… i thought 3 to the beach was history… yeah micks 9.7 was sublime, for sure, but his 9.1, his first wave, was one of the worst pieces of judging i have ever seen! (At least since Brother fell to Bede)… solid carve out the back, followed by a credit card double grab, Fans don’t want to see the local countryman favored. They don’t want to see the recently re-signed surfer given the nepotistic nod by nostalgic judges. Has kelly been given a pass before? for sure, but 2 wrongs don’t make a right. Not only did Kelly get rigcurled, but so did all the fans, and the reputation of competitive surfing.

      How awesome would it be to have that final broken down by the judges after the fact?! Like a US supreme court decision? Fanning v. Slater, Bells (2012)

  • i judged the tour too

    9.7 on first wave in such fickle conditions. heavy call. If it was ultra pulsing sets? yeah maybe.
    I’ve always been a fan of the chuck an 11 or 12 into the scale for exceptional rides when the level bar goes thru the roof . Yeah i once used to sit in a fucken cubicle and be underpaid to chart the destiny of the tours puppets

  • Nick

    I don’t agree with a 10 for 1 move at a wave like bells…maybe on a beach break close out sure. I do agree with the judges that Mick won the heat and definitely a deserved winner of the comp so overall the judges got it right. Mick’s Turns were bigger, more drawn out, more powerful….speed, flow and commitment the way bells should be surfed. Yeeew

  • Nowan caires

    Maybe Kelly should have won but he didn’t and for a guy who gets to win so much he should be more gracious in defeat what was the go with him ringing micks bell he is the best ever but he seems like a bit of selfish prick that treats all the other surfers like they are insignificant and that the tour revolves around him

  • Jamii Hamlin

    Ke11y ripped and likely would have won if he had caught better, bigger or cleaner waves, but Mick was rewarded for better wave quality and matching the criteria perfectly. Maybe they got the scale a little too high to start with but it was similar to previous heats, but the 10/10 for a single move was justified yet it does leave little room for score improvement had a combination of moves or tube ride been included!

    • VigilantASPfan

      Go look at the heats prior. Wave selection was not in the scoreline… It is not even in the rule book anymore. It was years back. Go watch the videos on my youtube page and you’ll clearly see Kelly should have won. my page is: VigilantASPfan

  • Kevin Barrett

    I’m impressed at how civil the comments are, a lot of other message boards have guy’s abusing each other and resorting to personal attacks, way to go people. We may be passionate about our sport but the ocean should have taught us to respect it and each other.

  • Joao Paulo

    Wise words indeed. As he said, Kelly won. But live, all the nerves can make us feel different. Even the wonderful manouver we all were blessed to see was because this “nerve” issue that made Kelly surprise us all. He was overated in a combo and that made all the difference in order to make him eager to change the score. Sometimes unfair scores are good for us and competitors.

  • Eric Wakeling

    I totally agree with you. You could see it on the webcast when they did side by side. 9.70 was absurd for that wave. Maybe an 8.5? And Kolohe shouldn’t have lost to Bede either.

  • bodhi

    Response to #46: “rigcurled”, that’s a new one

  • JoBags

    Mick tied his waves together better than Slats did, even though his one air was insane. I wasn’t feeling those snappy turns halfway up the face either. Bells rewards surfers who flow one massive turn into the next. And Kolohe lost his heat with Bede because his rails never even got wet.

  • Clint Walton

    Mick defiantly won that final,crazy as Slaters air was. Cleaner more on rail surfing, slater was under scored with the 2nd 8.1′ but a ten for 1 move , I don’t think so, even if it was, 1 od the best airs of seen ,like Bede, but def got over score against kolohe.

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