Kelly Slater and Mick Fanning have laid down the marker for the rest of us on the Dream Tour after they fought out the final of the Quiksilver Pro. It was less then super Superbank and even though I was still dealing with losing my semi-final to Mick, I wasn’t surprised at the standard of the ‘show’ he and Kelly put on in the final.
Mick did exactly what I expected from him. Since he sealed the title in Brazil last …. there has been some speculation over how Mick would cope with defending a world title rather than chasing it. Then there was his broken wrist in Japan snowboarding. I think he’s answered all of that pretty emphatically.
He’s such a fierce competitor and I know this can sound a bit strange but it’s actually a privilege to go up against him. That’s because I always gain from it. To beat Mick, you have to have really earned it. When you lose, you still learn so much from being out there competing against the best. You can’t miss a beat against him, or he will pounce on you. White Lightning.
There was a huge crowd at Snapper for finals day and even though the conditions for our semi were far more fickle and inferior to last year’s final between us, I could really feel the buzz and adrenaline coming off the beach. They seemed to really enjoy us going at it. It went down-to-the-wire and it was frustrating to lose by such a small margin.
I went for a couple of big moves that didn’t quite come off but I don’t regret that. You don’t win WCT event semis by surfing conservatively. My initial disappointment at losing so narrowly to Mick has now been tempered by the realisation that starting the year equal third on the WCT and the second highest placed Australian after the first event is a positive way to kick off ’08.
My Mt Woodgee boards went unreal and I felt positive from the opening round at D-bah. I was able to get into a rhythm early in the comp and get past some pretty dangerous opponents in the likes of Kieran Purrow, Ben Dunn and Joel Parkinson. “Parko” and I met at the same stage of this event last year and I was able to come out on top then. I knew he would be pumped to get me back and he had me comboed early.
I was pretty nervous in the last few minutes when Parko held priority and could still get me, but as all of us can testify at this event, the wait for a decent wave was very frustrating. Just like Mick, Kelly’s performance in this contest didn’t surprise me – or many others for that matter.
He and Mick continue to set the bar for guys like me to aspire to. The higher they set it – and I know Mick winning the world title has inspired Kelly to go as hard as he could in this event – the better I like it. Australia winning both world titles last year (Mick and Steph Gilmore in the women’s) plus the number of WCT surfers we have on both Dream Tours has highlighted that we are back as a major surfing power.
But the rest of the world isn’t going to hand it to us on the platter. Kelly winning the first men’s event and Brazil’s Sofia Mulanovich winning the Roxy Pro has been a statement of intent from the other nations. Again, bring it on. In this case, it’s Bells and the Rip Curl Pro. With any luck, clean Easter Rincon. What a nice thought to be heading south with.
Finally, a shout-out to the people who supported me at the Quikky. Man, you guys (and girls) made some noise! Thanks!! I was pretty overwhelmed with the good vibes towards me and I’ve enjoyed the higher profile that has come with my recent achievements. And having somebody of the calibre of ASP president and former world champ Rabbit Bartholomew describe you as a contender for this year’s world title is a further buzz.
Talk to you from Bells.