Stab Magazine | Kelly Slater wins the 2011 Quiksilver Pro, Gold Coast
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Kelly Slater wins the 2011 Quiksilver Pro, Gold Coast

Before the first buzzer of the day had sounded to signal the start of the Quiksilver Pro, Gold Coast’s quarter-finals, Kelly Slater had taken off on a wave while waiting for his heat against Dusty Payne to start, and lazily ridden a transparent tunnel, kicking out immediately. Dusty, once again surfing the first heat of […]

news // Feb 22, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Before the first buzzer of the day had sounded to signal the start of the Quiksilver Pro, Gold Coast’s quarter-finals, Kelly Slater had taken off on a wave while waiting for his heat against Dusty Payne to start, and lazily ridden a transparent tunnel, kicking out immediately. Dusty, once again surfing the first heat of the day, sat out the back on his own watching the champ from behind. Once the buzzer had sounded, Kelly stroked into his first scoring ride – an 8.73. By the heat’s closing minutes, Dusty was in need of a 9.57 – he dropped into a barrel, swooped a roundhouse, blasted a top-turn, floated over a draining section then jammed a critical reo to score a 5.83. Post-heat, Kelly ran through the crowd, politely refusing autographs. While waiting for the post-heat interview to go live, he reached to rip the plug from the back of a booming EX12 full-range module speaker, before he was stopped and told just to switch it off. He seemed a little put-out by the whole situation despite winning the heat, and gave uncharacteristically cold post-heat interviews.

Matt Wilkinson, the only goofy-footer left in the draw at this point, had surfed a short pre-game session in the morning. On the way down to the jump-off, Wilko chilled on the sand, signed a coupla autographs, posed for some photographs, and looked very relaxed. He seemed confident – before opponent Tiago Pires had stood up, Wilko had already ridden four waves, two of which would be his combined scoring waves – a 6.67 and a 7.73. Tiago grinded out a 7.07 – Wilko over-extended on three waves and came unstuck, first turn, on each. Tiago, in the closing moments, blasted out a 7.57, finishing the wave after the buzzer and taking the heat. “I was just wigging out, trying to do weird turns,” said Wilko afterwards. “Being a fucken’ idiot. I was talking about surfing smart heats all week, and I’ve just put my foot in my mouth.”

Taj Burrow sat with trainer Johnny Gannon, watching the heats before his and analysing the waves. After Kelly had finally made it past the media and autograph frenzy to reach the quiet of the competitors area, he and Taj exchanged a few short sentences about the conditions, before Taj returned into his closed-off section to continue warm-ups with Johnny. Taj and opponent Brett Simpson both jumped off the rock in the usual spot. Taj caught Brett’s attention on the way down the beach to wish him luck, then stood four meters behind the Californian as he they waited to jump off. Taj then systematically combo’d Brett with an 8.23 and a 9.07.

It’s obviously a different story for competitors in the lineup, but from the shore it seemed that many of the best waves were the unridden ones jacking-up on the inside and building as they ran down the point. Brett Simpson confirmed this following his loss to the scarily in-form Taj, noting that from the behind-the-rock take-off spot, the smaller growers slipped past unnoticed. When I asked Simpo if it was coincidence that the three sophomores, Dusty, Wilko and himself, had all been knocked by the more experienced players in this round, he said: “Well it’s actually just a coincidence that we’re all even in the quarters.” Rookie Alejo Muniz looked sharp as hell and nearly beat Jordy in their quarter-final, but Jordy surged late and did two airs on one wave – the first a double-grab the second a frontside grab. Both unremarkable, but certainly enough to slip him past the Brazilian. Interestingly, Jordy surfed 14 waves – one more and he woulda reached his limit. An out-dated rule?

Kelly’s first wave of the semi-final nearly made floaters cool again. After a high-speed coast over lip to steep drop, he planted a strong reo then did a turn-to-tailslide, sliding down the wave’s face, earning an 8.67. On his second wave, Kelly repeatedly gouged the open face to score an 8.10. Portuguese Tiago Pires never stood a chance – he was combo’d before he’d even ridden a wave. Kelly was surrounded by three security guards as he ran up the sand. Before the second semi-final, it became apparent that Taj and Jordy  are two creatures of habit – pre-heat routine for Taj is a focused discussion with trainer Johnny Gannon, followed by warm-up stretches and exercises. He then runs to the sand, Firewire in left hand (even though he’s regular-footed), and does a few last-minute loosen-ups before hitting the water. Jordy on the other hand, stomps around the competitor’s area with headphones on and eyes determined. He attaches his leash while still in the competitors area (the only surfer to do this) and then hands his headphones to pal ‘Laces’ before running straight down to water.  Steve ‘Laces’ Michelsen is so-nicknamed because he’s so far up Jordy’s ass that all that can be seen are his shoe laces. (Most certainly someone else’s nicknaming, and not Stab‘s.) Waves weren’t the best for the second semi, but Taj again double-punched his opponent with a 9.23 and an 8.33. Jordy’s 6.50 and 4.90 weren’t enough – the South African’s frustration could be seen in a board kick-out on the buzzer. Jordy actually stayed out for the eight minute break between semi and final, looking as though he needed to let off some steam.

Taj ran up the beach after beating Jordy, and when asked by an official how long he needed before the final answered with grommet-like enthusiasm, “I’m ready now! Oh, Five minutes? Yep!” The final was, for lack of a better word, anti-climactic. The waves began to break wide and only certain swell lumps drained down the sand bank the way they had the two days prior. Kelly opened up early as always, and though Taj belted out some crowd-enthusing turns, the champ managed, as he so often does, to do exactly what he needed to do to stay on top (which included selling a dummy to the in-priority Taj in the dying minutes.) Many first-turn dismounts later (from both parties), Kelly Slater had won the contest.

After the final, Taj retreated straight to the competitor’s area. Kelly was chaired up the beach, and crowd-surfed his way to the podium, thoroughly enjoying the immense audience. He jumped on stage, pretended to throw his board into the crowd, then took the Coronas out of the bucket that’d been set up on stage (for celebratory foaming) and emptied the icy water over his head. He looked at Martin Potter and asked, “Where’s Taj?”, before running upstairs to grab the West-Australian. During his speech, Kelly asked “Are Australian’s really that outta work?” (in reference to the amount of spectators on a working day,) and received a collective, jovial laugh. He then called Taj over for a group photo. “If I’m in a contest, I just wanna win,” said Kelly afterwards, “I’m just trying to get to enjoy it. I’m trying to get to a place where I’m focused but I’m not stressed out. I don’t really enjoy the stress of the contest, I kinda put pressure on myself. I’d like to try and get to a place where I can compete, relaxed.” – Elliot Struck

 

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