A Bugs Eye View

posted by / News / June 6, 2008

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In the aftermath of the 2008 Globe Pro Fiji, the international surfing community stands in awe of Kelly Slater’s newfound dominance of the ASP Men’s World Tour. The man has, by his own high standards, set a new benchmark for early season prowess. His stunning victory at Cloudbreak appeared inevitable once he snuck past Bobby Martinez in the Quarter Finals.

In fact, this was the only close shave he has had in the three tournament wins posted on the 08 World Tour. Kelly also has a penchant for going on with the job once the squeaker is out of the way. He never offers a second chance to the opposition, always turns in a barnstormer after surviving a close one, and it was business as usual as he smashed Taj in their Semi, nailing a two wave total of 18.70, before putting the Final beyond {{{CJ}}} Hobgood’s grasp with an early flurry.

Kelly is the master of hurting guys who are holding priority. He just surfs, taking discard waves and turning them into gold, while his opponent sits initially within the security of having priority, then, as the required strike rate creeps up, he kind of paralyses the opposition by taking away the mid range option and forcing them to sit stubbornly with priority until a bomb arrives. This waiting game is a wise strategy in most cases, however against Kelly, you are first need to work your way out of being combo’ed, and then, still requiring a score in excess of 9 points, the clock comes into play, while he all the while is hunting for a put-away wave.

Both Kelly and CJ have awesome records out in the South Pacific leg. Both have won Teahupoo and Cloudbreak, both have made the finals multiple times. They met in the 2005 Final, although this was at mindlessly barrelling Restaurants, where Kelly got so pitted in the Final that he made front side tube riding look pretty tame compared to deep, behind the section backhand barrel riding. This year CJ looked extremely threatening, accounting for Adriano de Souza in their Semi 17.64-13.87, but in the Final he got going too late and came up short, 13.27 compared to Kelly’s 16.67 total.

Still, after a lacklustre pair of 17ths in the Aussie leg, CJ Hobgood has zoomed into calculations with a 3,2 rally in the Pacific. He is camped at #6, just behind Taj, who holds a pair of 3rds along with a 9th and a throwaway 17th. The securement of two Top 3 results augers well for Taj, who goes into July’s Billabong Pro J/Bay as defending Champion. He did make a quip about belting Kelly in last years J/Bay decider, unfortunately as he reminisced Kelly was putting him away at Cloudbreak. Taj will need to repeat at J/Bay to get back into World Title framework, Kelly has all the bonus points.

To clarify that situation, there are no extra added bonus points available, however built into the system is a sliding scale whereby the difference between first and second place is greater then the difference between second and third, and so on down the scale. It is not a huge difference but in a close race it will make a difference, and with Kelly snagging three wins and no tour regular gaining the 1200 points in Tahiti, the advantage is personified. So for Taj, Parko, Mick, Bede and Adriano the key will now be actually jagging a win at J/Bay in order to erode Kelly’s substantial lead and also to secure the incremental bonus built into the 1200 point yield.

Joel Parkinson has been flirting with greatness this tour but has been hamstrung by one too many 5th’s. He and Andy Irons came into Teahupoo joined at the hip with a pair of Quarter Final finishes apiece. Parko got the monkey off his back with a Semi Final berth for a 3rd place but went down in a ridiculously close result to Adrian de Souza in the Globe Pro Fiji. This was a tough call, there was nothing separating the two but Joel came out on the wrong side of the decision and that, combined with Kelly’s victory, temporarily crippled his Title campaign. He sits #2 courtesy of four Top 5 results but he knows that without a couple Final’s under the belt he isn’t making serious inroads, this again compounded by Kelly having one total throwaway result.

Bede Durbidge sits below Parko on the ratings however with a 2nd, 3rd & 5th to his credit he looms as the closest challenger to Kelly’s supreme stats. Bede also has one clear throwaway but the pressure will be on for a huge performance at J/Bay. I will preview the form guide going in but Bede is a natural for J/Bay, he is big, strong and moulded by the Southern Queensland Point Breaks. Mick and Parko have cleaned up at Super’s, this venue is right up Bede’s alley as well. Adriano de Souza is on a critical ascent. He moves to World #4 following a superb outing in the Globe Pro Fiji, the 3rd place finish not only his best since his debut podium finish at Snapper, but importantly on the reef breaks of the South Pacific.

If anything, the reefs have been the Achilles heel of the Brazilian contingent. It’s not that they can’t surf reefs but, being nurtured on a beach break diet since grommet hood, the Brazilian guys have to spend some time playing catch-up on reef specific skills. Adriano has definitely stepped up in this arena and now looks the complete package. He burst on the scene heralded as Brazil’s greatest title hope and is now realizing that potential.

Mick Fanning is still right there. The reigning World Champion has had a few splutters but dragging that 33rd around in his dilly bag is dragging his rating down. Mick has a 2nd & two 5ths and is just outside the cusp of contending. He is right there for contending for #2 but he is definitely well in arrears of Kelly’s imposing lead. That being said, the champ now comes into a bunch of his pet events. A winner at J/Bay twice, winner the last two years in Brazil, Mick could still rally a solid title defence, I mean we are only four events into an eleven event season.

Just beyond that bubble lays Andy Irons, Adrian Buchan and Bobby Martinez. All three of these guys are big event performers and just need to get on a consistent roll to pounce on the ratings race. Three times World Champion Irons is displaying awesome early event form but it is yet to transfer across to the business end of proceedings. Ace Buchan is a surfer on the rise. A series of scintillating performances out there in goofy footers paradise has seen the youngster solidify Top 8 credentials. Bobby Martinez knows how to win, he has very few chinks in the armour and I reckon he is due for another win.

Kelly’s surfed pretty much a shut-out for long stretches of the Globe Pro Fiji final, as he did in his Semi. The win was met with an air of expectation, there was actually no claim, and it was easily the most nonchalant victory I’ve ever witnessed. But during the press conference Kelly did let on that this was a very meaningful moment, a third win of great significance to his on/off/on 08 campaign. In some respects Kelly Slater is probably the only person not talking about Title #9. But hey, this is not a fait accompli, there are seven more events remaining, 8400 points up for grabs.

A great event, the Globe Pro Fiji produced some melting moments, it brings to a successful conclusion the 2008 South Pacific leg of the Dream Tour.

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