Stab Magazine | Kelly Grinds Out Victory On A Day Of Upsets In Fiji

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Kelly Grinds Out Victory On A Day Of Upsets In Fiji

A gritty display marks a return to form for the champ in Fiji.

news // Jun 5, 2016
Words by Jed Smith
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Kelly Slater put on a gritty performance in round one of the Fiji Pro to overcome an in-form Kolohe Andino and Sebastian Zietz. The champ found himself under pressure early in the rippable conditions after Kolohe, a former Fiji Pro semifinalist, locked in a 7.5 for a smoothly worked three-turn combo. Sitting 35th on the ratings and in desperate need of a result, Kelly got busy conjuring a mid-five out of a tricky inside runner before linking a critical float into a vertical fin-drift on the bulk of his 7.1. Despite Kelly’s experience and his renowned affinity with the Cloudbreak reef, it was the young Californian, Kolohe, who picked the eyes out of the set-waves. He followed his 7.5 with another set shortly after, gluing a vicious three-turn combo to the pocket for an 8.4 and a stranglehold on the contest.

But Kelly wasn’t done. The wily 44-year-old put together the wave of his season so far, a 9.03 under pressure, with a huge tail-drift on a meaty Cloudbreak section, followed by a pair of hooks, and a sketchy end-section floater that screamed commitment. “My year starts now really ‘cos it hasn’t started before this,” he laughed after the win, adding that experience was key to his success out there. “Obviously I know the reef really well. At different tides and different sizes there are little intricacies about where you can get waves. It changes a lot at high and low tide according to the interval. There’s a few secrets.”

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Jadson, with encouragement from Strider.

Elsewhere, the day belonged to the Brazilians, though there were some new faces in the mix in round one. Jadson Andre muscled his way through a pair of impressive barrels in some of the best conditions of the day to beat Gabriel Medina and Stu Kennedy. The second pit, coming on the back of a fierce hit in the pocket, was a remarkable make and one of the day’s more determined barrel rides.

Wiggolly Dantas, meanwhile, ran a big board and even bigger hacks through the Cloudbreak lineup on his way to to an upset victory over Mick Fanning and Kai Otton. The Brazilian’s heat-topping 8.17 featured a pair of the purest frontside gaffs on a dreamy Cloudbreak wall while countryman Miguel Pupo also stole a late victory from Brazilian world number two, Italo Ferreira. In a dramatic finish, Miguel took off on the buzzer, somehow sticking an under the lip drop into the tube with a critical tail-whip to follow for an 8.23 and the win.

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Wiggolly, on the hack.

Both world number two and world number one were condemned to the loser’s round after Aussie Matt Wilkinson went down to Keanu Asing. The Hawaiian overcame an error-riddled early half of the heat with a single moment of brilliance when he knocked a backside re-entry out of the park before miraculously finding his way out of an inside tube for a 7.0 and a late win. Though, it was Jordy Smith who put on the performance of the day. The big South African looked at home in the powerful walls, dropping a series of lead-footed blasts in the bowl for a nine. He then consolidated his lead on the buzzer with another superb power and flow attack for the highest combined total of the day (16.67) and victory over Ace Buchan and Taj Burrow. Round two is set to resume first thing tomorrow.

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Mr De Souza.

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