Jake Paterson: Kelly’s Win And The Title Race From Here On
The Snake’s take.
The Return of the King!
Forty-four years old and 23 years on tour and never looked better! In my eyes, I haven’t seen Kelly in this kind of form (for a whole event) since the 2013 Fiji Pro. I really think this could light the fire to kickstart his year. In his own words it was “mind control” that was the key to his win! With long waits for set waves, your mind can play all kind of tricks on you. But Kelly didn’t flinch. Keanu had a great start against Kelly in round five, but look what happened: Perfect heat. Same again with Bruno in the quarters – Bruno had a great start, but Kelly’s mind control killed them all!
There are two trophies up for grabs at Teahupoo each year, and my favourite moment was Kelly winning the AI award: “Andy would be so mad, but happy at the same time about me winning this award.” He had a tear in his eye and didn’t sugarcoat the kind of rivalry they had. I just love that shit! Kelly just seemed to be in such a happy place, making jokes on camera all event. He never looked like he wasn’t in control, at all.
Lowers is up next and if the swell is over four feet, Kelly could be going back-to-back.
Now, let’s talk about the event in general.
With the swell forecast for Chopes, the boys at the WSL killed it to finish the event on a high. I’m sure no one remembers that Dusty didn’t even stand up in the first heat of the event – which Jordy won with a total of eight points!
Experience was the key to this event, hands down. Only two rookies made it to round three, and one of them was Alex Ribeiro. Alex beat Adriano in round two with a total of 6.23! At small Chopes, you have to know what you’re doing, where to sit, and which waves to catch. In this event, if you didn’t score over 1000 points in Fantasy Surfer, you really did blow it. Ha!
Those with experience, and of course the good tuberiders, were the guys who impressed! John John dodged a few bullets along the way to the final, most of all his quarterfinal against Julian. I think it could’ve been Julian in the final if he didn’t blow his first wave in that heat. He waited a long time for his first wave, and maybe got a little cold or something, but didn’t get a good entry into a wave that would’ve won him that heat in the end. Other standouts were:
Gabs, who’s just a freak! Ace is a great tuberider and a past winner. But, if you were to pick a surprise guy who made the quarters, it would be Kolohe. If you’ve watched this kid from the early days, then you know he’s worked super hard to be one of the guys that have no weakness in any conditions. I expect him to be mixing it with the World Title guys in the next few years.
I’ll tell you one thing: Heat of the year has another contender. The Gabriel vs John John semifinal. Holy shit! Way back when I was a kid, some of the pro events that I watched had a best-of-three heat format for the semis and finals, so you got to see the best surfers battle it out repeatedly. The WSL should think about bringing it back! Time permitting, of course, or maybe running longer semifinal heats and making it best three or four waves. Get a load of Gabriel’s top four waves in that semi: 10, 9.23, 9.1, 8.23 (combined total of 36.56), and John John: 9.93, 9.73, 9.27, 9.17 (combined total of 38.1) – and that’s not to mention they both fell on a couple of waves that could’ve been 10s! For me, this is pro surfing at its best.
I’m always the first one to blow shit at the judges if I don’t agree with some scores, but Chopes would have to be the hardest place in the world to judge. From what I could see, they got all the right results. Nice work, keep it rolling into Trestles!
So, Title race.
Is Wilko old news? Well, in my eyes, from being outright unbeatable for the Title after Bells, I think he’s now the full underdog out of the three top dogs! I’m not saying it can’t happen, but he needs to relax and let it go, attack heats like he did at the start of the year and not try and defend.
Gabs? Danger man. He’ll finish no less than quarterfinals for the rest of the year. So, the question is: Will John John finish ahead of Gabs in more events for the rest of the year?
Looking closely at the ratings, I can tell you this; none of the front runners have any throwaway results left. So, there’s a small window for an outsider to make some ground, but that will depend on whether any of the three top dogs stumble.
My pick will be an epic two-man battle for the Title at Pipe. John John vs Gabs, and whoever finishes higher will be your World Champ. I know it’s a long way away, but I just love this shit!
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