Emotional win for Kai Otton
Beats Kelly Slater and his newborn baby’s in the hospital.
Aussie goofy foot, Kai Otton, broke down on air following his round one win over Kelly Slater and Brazilian, Alex Ribeiro. The Australian’s newborn baby was recently hospitalised and his good mate was in a serious accident. The tears flowed freely as he attempted to deliver a tribute to his partner. He dashed for the privacy of the competitors area immediately after.
Earlier he pegged two of the day’s best backside blasts on a ruler-edge, overhead Bells runner for an 8.33 and a stranglehold on the heat.
“Any heat you have with Kelly, you gotta bring your A-game,” said Kai. “That heat went really lull-y, which was lucky for me. Kelly can get a 7.5 in his sleep.”
The King looked oddly out of sorts, coughing up consecutive opportunities to take the lead late in the heat. The first, an overcooked power jam to tail slide, and the second a blown floater which capped a poor performance for the 11 time world champ. The man in the yellow singlet, Matt Wilkinson, showed composure and came up with a heat winning wave inside the final six minutes despite limited scoring opportunities. He racked up a 6.73 for a fast blast, deep bottom turn to carve combo, and a pair of hits down the line gave him the nod over Kolohe Andino and Miguel Pupo.
“I decided to work hard and I guess it’s started to pay off already,” said Wilko.
“That kinda success early in the year (at the Quik Pro) has shown what work can do,” he continued, “I wanna keep doing it and see how well I can do this year.”
Joel Parkinson was at his silky, stylish best in the groomed early morning conditions. A pair of sevens for impeccable wave-reads and signature drawn out arcs were enough to get him past Taj Burrow and Sebastian Zietz. Despite Zietz throwing down the turn of the event so far – a full-blooded grab rail arc, in which he dug the nose into a reverse and recovery for a 6.90.
“(My strategy) is defined by what the wave waves are like,” said Parko. “It was slow in the the first heat, Kelly’s heat, there were a lot of waves but no quality ones. I felt like I surfed a bit safe. You gotta surf safe but enough to get a score. You might not get another opportunity,” he said.
John John Florence, meanwhile, laid down one of the best layback gouges you’ll ever see on his way to the highest single wave score of the day, an 8.5, and victory over Jordy Smith and Jadson Andre.
“I’m riding the same board I rode all winter. I rode it for the first time yesterday and it worked perfectly fine, so I took confidence out of that,” he said, adding:
“I love this wave. It’s like a smaller version of Sunset with little shifty peaks that have a lot power.”
Round two for the men is likely to commence first thing tomorrow morning in six foot plus conditions. Hopefully we’ll see this event light up.
Round one results:
Heat 7: K. Otton 13.60, A. Ribeiro 8.44, K. Slater 7.17
Heat 8: J. Parkinson 15.33, S. Zietz 13.87, T. Burrow 8.80
Heat 9: M. Wilkinson 13.40, K. Andino 12.30, M. Pupo 12.24
Heat 10: N. Young 12.10, A. Buchan 11.53, R. Callinan
Heat 11: W. Dantas 12.00, M. Banting 11.90, J. Kerr 8.87
Heat 12: J. Florence 14.50, J. Smith 11.10, J. Andre 9.10
Upcoming round two heats:
Heat 1: I. Ferreira, T. Stevenson
Heat 2: J. Flores, M. Ho
Heat 3: K. Slater, T. Bisso
Heat 4: J. Kerr, D. Payne
Heat 5: J. Smith, A. Melling
Heat 6: A. Buchan, A. Ribeiro
Heat 7: K. Andino, S. Zietz
Heat 8: T. Burrow, M. Pupo
Heat 9: C. Ibelli, R. Callinan
Heat 10: S. Kennedy, M. Banting
Heat 11: C. Coffin, J. Andre
Heat 12: K. Asing, M. Bourez
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