Kelly Slater wins Billabong Pro J-Bay 2008
He’s done it again. Eight-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) beat reigning ASP World Champion Mick Fanning (AUS) to win the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay, earn his 38th ASP World Tour victory and claim the fourth event on the 2008 ASP World Tour.
“I didn’t realize I was going to be overwhelmed by it, but I haven’t been in this position before, at this point of the year, with this many wins,” Slater said. “There are great things going on in my life so I’m just trying to soak it up and be appreciative.”
Surfing his 14th season on the ASP World Tour, Slater is still the only member of the Top 45 to win an event this season. The one tournament Slater lost was won by an event wildcard. He now has a 1262 point lead on World No. 2 Joel Parkinson and is in commanding contention to claim his 9th ASP World Title. With six events remaining, there is still a possibility the title could be clinched by another surfer on the ASP World Tour roster, but the probability that will happen is small – something Slater’s competition knows all too well.
“I’ve put a lot of years in obviously, it’s been my life on so many levels for so long, in a way I was trying to pull back from it, but also I do love it,” Slater said. “I get a lot of enjoyment out of competing because competing really pushes your level. The best performances in the world are on tour.”
Slater beat Fanning 16.73 to 9.40 in the Billabong Pro Final. While conditions early this morning were clean and six foot (two metre), onshore winds made the semifinal and final tricky.
“It was really challenging,” Slater said. “You really have to change your frame of mind because we were looking at waves the other day where we were getting 30-45 second rides and doing six to eight maneuvers and now we’re looking at waves where if you get three moves it’s a good score. It’s really hard to change your perception on how you are going to surf a wave. I didn’t really catch on until the very end of that heat when I realized I could get a three move wave and probably seal it.”
Fanning was understandably disappointed to lose his second final of the year to Slater – the two met in the final of the first event of the year on the Gold Coast of Australia too. “I surfed like an idiot,” Fanning said. “I had the opportunity to win the whole thing and I fell and I don’t know why. I don’t know what happened, I just had a shocker. I was feeling great, I just couldn’t stay on my board.”
Fanning, who was hoping to defend his ASP World Title this year can’t help but take a defeatist’s look at the 2008 title race. “I guess it’s not over ‘till it’s over, but it’s like climbing Everest and he’s halfway up the bloody hill,” Fanning said.
Fanning moved to 4th with his second place result at Jeffreys Bay. He beat last year’s World No. 2 and the defending Billabong Pro Champion Taj Burrow (AUS) in the semifinals. Burrow now sits 5th on the ratings.
“I’m pretty disappointed,” Burrow said. Burrow, like most of his compatriots, shares Fanning’s sentiments on Slater’s victory today. “Kelly wins another final, enough said, unbelievable.” Burrow said. “The door is really closing as far as I can see it. He’s got a ridiculous amount of keepers now so… how many events left? Not enough!”
The next event on the 2008 ASP World Tour remains undisclosed. The “Search” event will be held July 30-August 10, 2008, “Somewhere.”
ASP World Tour Ratings after Stop No. 5 – the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay
1. Kelly Slater (USA) 5210 points
2. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 3948 points
3. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 3782 points
4. Mick Fanning (AUS) 3753 points
5. Taj Burrow (AUS) 3638 points
6. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 3540 points
7. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 3460 points
8. Andy Irons (HAW) 3338 points
9. Bobby Martinez (USA) 3028 points
10. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 2884 points