HONOLULU - (Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013) -- Eleven time world champion Kelly Slater rarely surfs in competition outside of elite ASP World Championship Tour events; it's a strategy for staying balanced in his life, competing at a consistently high level, and minimizing risk of injury and strain as he moves further into his 40s. So the opportunity to see him in action at the Vans World Cup of Surfing today - a Prime rated event - in a rare heat with Dane Reynolds (USA), Heitor Alves (Brazil), and Joan Duru (France), was good reason for a maximum crowd to fill Sunset Beach.The Vans World Cup of Surfing is the second event of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing hydrated by vitamin water.
It's a well-known fact that Slater, 41, has enormous respect for Reynolds' surfing, and after more than 20 years on tour, Dane is one surfer who can truly inspire him in a heat. The fact that Reynolds rarely competes these days only made the opportunity more interesting for Slater and he clearly enjoyed the volley of waves the pair engaged in today.
Waves were in the 4- to 6-foot range for their heat, offering plenty of high performance scoring potential. The fact that Reynolds is still alive in the competition also spices up his relevance, as he remains in contention for the Vans Triple Crown series title after making the semi's at Haleiwa last week.
Reynolds led the heat from the outset, creating the type of come-from-behind opportunity that always throws fuel on Slater's competitive fire. Slater struck in the closing minutes of the heat, finding a rare left-breaking standup tube with a fast and tight clean exit to get the beach crowd on its feet. A near-perfect score of 9.87 shot Slater to first and switched Reynolds to second for both to advance.
"(Dane) started off with a bang," said Slater. "It was only a small wave that he caught at the start, I think he got a little tube and did a couple of turns. But you get a 7.6 on your first wave and you're pretty much guaranteed to make the heat. He backed it up with a couple of sixes and he was kind of commanding the heat.
"That last wave... Heitor needed a low 7 to take me out. As we paddled it looked like a right. I could see there was a left on it but the right was there too, so I was going to really force my hand on the right. He saw that so he stopped paddling and I just turned left. You know, where he was, he would have got an even deeper barrel, so he could have probably got a 10 on that wave. He probably won't like to see that video (laughs).
"There was a lot of chop and stuff but it threw out far enough to be a no-hands dry barrel. Backside, no hands is a pretty good size barrel. It was a clean exit. I was surprised."
Slater's two wave total of 17.37 points out of 20 was the highest of the Round of 64. While he admits he doesn't have a special connection with Sunset Beach - saying he doesn't like the expansive playing field and the bigger boards it requires, if he's in it, he's in it to win it.
While waves are expected to drop further tomorrow, the forecast for the remainder of the holding period is not strong, so there is a chance that the final of the Vans World Cup of Surfing will happen tomorrow. Tune into the LIVE WEBCAST at 7am tomorrow for the status of competition.
Loading more stuff…
Hmm…it looks like things are taking a while to load. Try again?