"The waves are the stars."
That quote came from Kelly Slater shortly after dropping a perfect 20-point heat score in the quarterfinals of the Volcom Fiji Pro on Wednesday. It was only the fourth perfect heat score in ASP history. After that, there was little question that the 11-time world champ was on a roll. And that's a dangerous thing. Blowing through the quarters, semis and finals, Slater has now won a record 53 World Tour events.
"When they came, they're unbelievable," continued Slater. "When the waves are this good, I don't discount [perfect 10s] happening a few more times. The waves are there, you just have to stand up on them. You can't go for just trying to win a heat; it's a special thing if you can get a 10. Basically whoever goes out there and gets the better waves [is] going to win, because that's where the scores are."
After dispatching Kauai upstart Sebastian Zietz in the quarters, Slater drew John John Florence in the semis. Florence showed he is definitely back in form as he dismantled Jordy Smith with a 19.6 total in the quarters, but ultimately he was no match for 20-year veteran Slater.
"I was really trying to pick the right ones and be pretty selective," said Florence. "But you watch Kelly and you get to learn what's possible, I guess."
Then came Mick Fanning in the final -- and everybody knows you can't mess with a good thing. Slater went near perfect again, dropping another 10-point ride and ending the final with a 19.98 heat score.
Slater has now seized control of the ASP World Tour rankings and is well en route to a record 12th world title. He's already amassed two victories this year. And both the Oakley Bali Pro and the Billabong Pro Tahiti are coming up quick -- two events he could very easily win. If that happens, it's game, set, match.
Currently, Fanning is almost tied in points in the ratings race. As of now, it will be very difficult to challenge either Slater or Fanning for the title as they start to creep ahead of the pack. Even though Fanning has not won an event, he has been the most consistent competitor all year, and he looks hungrier than ever. Then again, at 41 years old, Slater proved he's a hard man to beat.
"What a day," said Slater when it was all said and done. "That was insane. When we started out in the final, Mick had position and I was a little deep, but the next one was unbelievable. I want to dedicate this to my brother and his wife and their new kid, Van. He told me that if I missed the birth of his son, that I'd better win, so this is for you."
VOLCOM FIJI PRO FINAL:
1. Kelly Slater (USA) 19.80
2. Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.87
VOLCOM FIJI PRO SEMIFINALS RESULTS:
SF 1: Kelly Slater (USA) 18.17 def. John John Florence (HAW) 14.00
SF 2: Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.07 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 16.70
VOLCOM FIJI PRO QUARTERFINALS RESULTS:
QF 1: John John Florence (HAW) 19.06 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.67
QF 2: Kelly Slater (USA) 20 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 4.10
QF 3: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 7.77 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 7.50
QF 4: Mick Fanning (AUS) 12.13 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 11.83