Injured Kelly Slater bests Mick Fanning to win Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach
Despite suffering a hairline fracture in his right foot three days ago, Kelly Slater stepped it up to win the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, beating reigning two-time ASP World Tour champion Mick Fanning in clean 3- to 4-foot waves at the backup venue of Johanna Beach, Australia, the third venue change of the event.
Following a relatively slow start to the highly anticipated final, Australia's Fanning unleashed with a 7.17 to take the lead, stringing together a series of high-speed maneuvers to pull ahead and put Slater, a Floridian, on the ropes.
However, Slater would answer back with an incredible alley-oop aerial maneuver, boosting so high that his feet separated from his board before he recovered for an 8.93. Slater then paddled out into another excellent wave, scoring an 8.10 to bring his total to 17.03 out of a possible 20 -- a lead that Fanning would not overcome.
"It was a lot more difficult than it looked out there," Slater said. "The tide came up, and the takeoff was a lot deeper than we thought it would be. I was getting bumped and bounced and falling, and I had five or six waves before I got something going. On that 8.93, I was up in the air, and when I landed, I kind of fell on my butt and did the one-footed shuffle, but I recovered there. Then I paddled straight into that second wave and that was it."
Slater, a nine-time ASP world champion, was able to push himself to a record 42nd elite tour victory and his fourth at Bells Beach, matching the historic record set by legendary Australian Mark Richards in the 1970s.
The win vaults Slater from ninth to second in the rankings, setting up his campaign for an unprecedented tenth ASP world title.
"It’s a long year, but I’m excited to put up a result here," Slater said. "I felt like I was surfing well on the Gold Coast but didn’t get the result I was looking for. So to come here and back it up is a step in the right direction."
Fanning’s second-place finish is a welcome result compared with his season opener, where he finished in a shared ninth place. Fanning now sits at fifth on the tour rankings, an excellent position to defend his ASP world title.
"A runner-up finish is great, but I would have loved to win," Fanning said. "I couldn’t seem to find a rhythm out there, and Kelly can do anything, even when he’s injured. Still though, it was a great finish for the event, and I want to thank all the locals down in Johanna for letting us surf out here today."
The next stop on the tour will be the Santa Catarina Pro, April 23 through May 2 in Brazil.Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach final results:
1 – Kelly Slater (U.S.) 17.03
2 – Mick Fanning (AUS) 12.00
Semifinal 1: Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.33 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 12.50
Semifinal 2: Kelly Slater (U.S.) 14.66 def. Bobby Martinez (U.S.) 3.80
Quarterfinal 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) 11.34 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 4.87
Quarterfinal 2: Mick Fanning (AUS) 14.20 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.00
Quarterfinal 3: Bobby Martinez (U.S.) 15.10 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 11.40
Quarterfinal 4: Kelly Slater (U.S.) 15.10 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 13.00
Round 4 results:
Heat 5: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 11.84 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 10.83
Heat 6: Bobby Martinez (U.S.) 13.67 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 8.77
Heat 7: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 12.20 def. Luke Stedman (AUS) 7.00
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (U.S.) 16.50 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 8.00
Current ASP World Tour top 10 (after Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach):
1 – Taj Burrow (AUS) 16,500 points
2 – Kelly Slater (U.S.) 13,750 points
3 – Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13,250 points
4 – Bobby Martinez (U.S.) 13,000 points
5 – Mick Fanning (AUS) 11,750 points
6 – Joel Parkinson (AUS) 10,500 points
6 – Bede Durbidge (AUS) 10,5,00 points
6 – Adriano de Souza (BRA) 10500 points
9 – Dane Reynolds (U.S.) 8,250 points
10 – Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 7,500 points
10 – Adrian Buchan (AUS) 7,500 points
-- Kelly Burgess
Photo: Kelly Slater bested reigning two-time ASP world champion Mick Fanning to claim the 2010 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. Credit: © Robertson / ASP
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