Mick Fanning, Kai Otton and Joel Parkinson, Peniche, Portugal
Of the three men in this photo, which would you pick to be the best surfer and most savvy heat strategist at shifting Supertubos on the last day of the Rip Curl Pro, Portugal? Surely two-time world champ and current ratings leader, Mick Fanning? Or, at the very least, reigning world champ and current title […]
Of the three men in this photo, which would you pick to be the best surfer and most savvy heat strategist at shifting Supertubos on the last day of the Rip Curl Pro, Portugal? Surely two-time world champ and current ratings leader, Mick Fanning? Or, at the very least, reigning world champ and current title hopeful Joel Parkinson? Nope. It’s Kai Otton.
Kai didn’t put a foot outta place at Peniche in the business end of the event. He scalped John John Florence, then Mick (extinguishing Mr Fanning’s hopes of sealing the world title in Portugal), and then Joel in the semis, before beating Nat Young in the final. This year has seen two long-deserving goofyfooters seal unlikely but awesome victories. First, Ace Buchan beat Kelly Slater in Tahiti to win his second world tour event. Now Kai’s beaten surfing’s biggest hypebeast (John) and two world champs to scoop his first-ever world tour win. And just as Ace was emotionally overwhelmed, so too was Kai, who has a baby on the way and proudly dedicated the win to his granddad, who past away the year Kai qualified.
But more pertinently to the moment we see here? This is right after Joel had beaten Julian Wilson, and Kai had beaten Mick, thus squashing the world title-in-Portugal thing. Mick and Kai are watching one of Jordy’s waves in heat three. “Joel’s just trying to get some rest as the days are really long at this contest and you can’t really go home between heats,” says the photographer, Ryan Miller. “Everyone was super chatty and didn’t seem like anything of consequence just went down, when in fact it was obviously after a massive heat. Mick was totally content. God that guy is as cool as they come. Shakes off maybe the biggest heat lost of the year like nothing happened.”
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