Kelly Slater took out the Volcom Pro in 10ft barrels at Cloudbreak, Fiji, today, in one of the most devastating performances of his 20 years on tour.
With a few minutes left in the final, he had his opponent, Australian two-time world champion Mick Fanning, on the ropes, needing not one but two excellent rides to regain the lead.
Fanning picked up a couple of waves that might have affected the result of earlier heats, but his body language said it all: he was out of the race, and he knew it.
Even more remarkable was that Fanning logged the first excellent ride of the final, a 9.2. But Slater fought back with a 9.8 and a perfect 10, making his lead unassailable.
Slater’s body language was a stark contrast. He was not only dominant, but was also having the time of his life. He stood up tall in a monster barrel and threw his arms wide in what Fanning later called the “Jesus pose”, as if to say, “How sick is this!”
That same wave almost ripped his head off seconds later when the lip came down on him. To most surfers it would have been a session-ending (or even life-ending) wipeout, but Slater shrugged it off and was straight back out there.
There were six perfect 10s scored during the event. Four of them were Slater’s.
“Oh man, what a day,” he said after winning the final, having surfed three heats in a day. “That was insane.”
The two finalists are now leading the ratings for the world title, with Slater slightly edging ahead of Fanning.
Defending world champion Joel Parkinson looked the form surfer of the event early on, but was narrowly eliminated by Fanning, his close friend and rival, in the quarter-finals.
The next event, in Bali this month, marks the halfway point of the title race.