THE BILLABONG PRO, TEAHUPO’O, DAY 11

posted by / News / May 16, 2003

Surf: A savory 6 to 8-feet
Events held: Men’s quarter’s through final
Nature’s call: Who said the swell wouldn’t come?
Predicted: Lots of worried competitors

There’s a great Ted Nugent song from the 70′s called “Stranglehold.” It’s a long song with a reliable rhythm pattern and some wailing guitar solos. Now, Kelly Slater probably wasn’t listening to it today in between winning heats, but for fun let’s pretend that he was. The lyrics to the song are brutally honest. Inside mean licks, they declare things like, “If your house gets in my way, baby; I’m gonna burn it down,” and “I’ve got you in a stranglehold and I crushed your face.”

Okay, so we aren’t trying to compare Kelly to the Nuge – not without a few more feet of hair and a bowhunting lesson — but still there could be some similarities. Let’s start with that part about a crushed face. Imagine, for a second what it’s like to be Kelly. Everywhere you look, there are these smart-ass kids who think they can take you down. After a while all you can see is one extended smirk. Every time you go off the bottom there’s an Andy or Mick or Parko floating over the top, jinxing your inside rail. It’s enough to make you want to gouge them and the lip all in one fell swoop. An, in some ways it’s a true picture of what he did today.

From first light you couldn’t help to know the swell was up. The rumble on the reef was louder; the mist off the waves was thicker; the psyche in the air was clearer. The buzz was out on quarterfinal number 2–Kelly vs. Cory. This would be the heat of the day.

“Whoever wins that heat will win the comp — especially if it’s eight feet,” observed Shea Lopez, yesterday, after his brother’s round 4 victory. Cory had just hung master tube-smith, Andy Irons, out to dry and in need of a 9.51 –a man who had pillaged his last heat for 19.70 out of a possible 20.00. And thus, with a gonad-taxing approach, the Gulf Coast glue-foot had pitted himself against the K-Man.

“Who will be the tougher draw, Kelly: Cory or Kalani?” I had asked him later, wrongly thinking that Kalani would advance to the semis, a bad assumption Kelly seemed to already notice.

“I’d say Cory,” he answered precisely then added, “Kalani could get overconfident and be surprised.”

Take note, that’s one of Kelly’s secret weapons–the ability to tell what his competitors are thinking. As predicted, the little k went on to be stomped in this mornings first quarterfinal, as the relaxed Brazilian rookie left him in a wrecked pile of superstars to advance forward.

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