For the second year straight, the world title will be decided at Pipeline. After a carbon fiber year of consistency, Mick Fanning looks like the easy favorite. However, the other surfer vying for the crown happens to be the best of all time, Kelly Slater. Kelly must win Pipe Masters to earn the title. And even if Kelly wins, Mick has to lose before the semifinals in order for the king to grab his 12th crown. The odds like Mick, but miracles like Kelly. Two men of great wealth and taste squabble below.
Brendan Buckley: Joy to the world title race! I love when Pipe chooses the champ. And for the second year in a row, a handsome Australian man will beat Kelly Slater to the crown.
Beau Flemister: A handsome Aussie? What is that, like a stay-at-home gypsy? Mick’s just five years away from looking like Clay Morrow from Sons of Anarchy. Two years away from looking like Taj Burrow. You got it twisted Buck, an actual handsome man — an American — will win the title this year and his name is Kelly Slater.
BB: That’s lunacy. Sheer lunacy! Kelly needs to win the whole comp or else he’s kaput. And even if he does win, Mick has to lose before the semis. Therein lies your lunacy, my dear friend. Mick has been far and away the most consistent surfer of 2013 and Kelly has looked fleetingly good at best.
BF: You are right that it hasn’t been Ke12y’s best year ever, but here’s my theory. Mick is painfully consistent. He’s got a bunch of 3rds and 5ths and, yawn, he’s sitting pretty. But Slater is Mr. Mind-Fuck, and my theory is that he’s been planning this since the Quik Pro on the Goldie. He’s been purposely playing with a handicap this whole time, so that precocious convict of a country would think they’d have it won again at Pipe, and then, WHAM-O! Kelly will crush the competition with his supreme dominance in the clutchiest of clutch situations.
BB: Kelly may very well be Mr. Mind-Fuck himself, but Mick is King Poise. I’ve read that in the off-season he ventures to the mountains of Tibet and wanders speechless for weeks. Weeks. Mick never cracks. Even if Kelly tried pulling the old, “I love you” card like he did on Andy, Mick won’t let this one slip away. Maybe if Slater kissed him on the mouth?
BF: This year Slater’s going berserker-mode. You thought that“Andy, I love you” moment was trickery, Slates is gonna walk on up to Mick, grab his butt, kiss him on the neck and whisper, “Your mother looks outstanding.” Pipe Masters 2013 is no-holds-barred Tyson-Holyfield time and Mick’s getting his soul’s ear bit off. And poise? Poise is for pussies. A.I. never had poise, A.I. had raw, unadulterated, red-eyed passion. Poise is poison.
BB: Slater may very well do that. I don’t think anyone would put such a thing past the man. But no matter what happens on land, all that matters is what goes down in the water. I’d never say that Mick is better than Slater — at Pipe or anywhere else — but the odds are just too high against the king this time. He’s toast, with vegan chia-butter.
BF: The odds are against him, but here are a few fun facts. Mick has never won a Pipe Masters, nor a Triple Crown. Kelly, however, has won six Pipe Masters, two Trip Crowns and 11 world titles. Mick has never felt comfy in the North Shore’s thick juice, never known the sweet haupia pie taste of Hawaiian victory. He will surely fall before the semis. Slater, on the other hand, is practically kama’aina. At the least, he calls the women at Ted’s Bakery“aunties.” And at the very least, he’s as Hawaiian as Cheyne Magnusson. The guy’s won the fucking Eddie, man.
BB: Mick isn’t comfortable on the North Shore? Off The Wall is purportedly the man’s favorite wave! He’s not scared and his barrel technique is immaculate. He knows what he needs to do and he’s going to go out there and do it, simple as that. You can carry on forever with your cute little fairy tale about a 41-year-old defying all odds to win, but that simply will not occur in reality. Maybe try another universe.
BF: That Mick quote, good sir, is abbreviated. I’m sure it read something like, “Off The Wall is my favorite wave on the North Shore.” Which is understandable as it’s directly in front of the Rip Curl house and riders staying in those houses surf absolutely nowhere except OTW, Pipe and Backdoor their entire stay. It’s like saying a newborn’s favorite food ever is his mom’s left tit. It’s the only thing he knows. But I will say that Kelly has his work cut out for him with unquestionably no room for mistakes. But that’s exactly where he thrives.