There was something in the air on the fourth and final day of the Quik Pro NY. Actually, there were many somethings in the air: electricity, excitement, tension, spray, Kelly, Owen. Day 3 brought the size and Day 4 molded that mass into lovely, peaky perfection. Peeling lefts and walled-up rights. We finally got those barrels everyone had been hoping for, and if you didnâ€™t eat and use the bathroom before the Quarters began, you were screwed, because there wasnâ€™t a single dull moment from early morning through lunchtime.
Taj took out Jadson in the first heat of the Quarterfinals. The scores were really close, but Taj appeared to be performing on a much higher level than Jadson. Donâ€™t get me wrong, Jadson was making all the right moves; he just looked a little wobbly while doing it. As he disappeared behind a wall of whitewash, Taj dropped onto the green face and shot up three flares for a 9.0. Jadson made a solid effort at recovery, even taking the lead at one point, but it was all over when Taj completed a method grab and scored a 5.77 with less than a minute remaining.
The Kelly v. Kerr rematch that was Heat 2 started with a lengthy layback from Josh Kerr and a big floater from Slater. Going into Day 4, Kerr had claimed most of the compâ€™s highest wave scores, but he was hungry for more. He pulled a sensational, â€œloftyâ€ forehand air reverse and locked down a 9.07 to take the lead. Kelly recovered the lead with a race down the line that snapped up to the lip, followed by a proper barrel on his next wave.
In Heat 3, Brazilians Heitor Alves and Alejo Muniz went tÃªteÂ Ã Â tÃªte, and Alejo came out on top. Heat 4 also pitted fellow countrymen against each other as Julian Wilson and Owen Wright both let their fins come out and play. Julian took to the sky with an alley-oop, but didnâ€™t finish it off, and Owen took the win.
Semifinal 1 was another Kelly-Taj spectacle that more resembled an expression session than a contest heat. And I know things are changing with contests, but this was really some audacious surfing. Taj earned a 9.30 with a wave from one jetty to another, executing about a hundred snaps along the way. Kelly held fast to THREE gargantuan floaters for a 9.07. Kelly got a barrel, Taj got a barrel, Kelly got a barrel and then alley-ooped. And again. Air. Air. Air. A 10.0 from Slater might be a deterrent for anyone else, but for Taj, it was just an excuse to hustle up another nine-point wave. This heat was seriously cranked up and then energy on the beach was tangible.
“It’s funny, because I get nervous until somebody gets a good ride and then I know what I need to do,â€ Kelly said. â€œI almost enjoy it more when somebody gets a big score because it brings you to a level. It opens the flood-gates for you.”
Before the final, Steph Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons expressed themselves in the name of the Daniel Bobis Memorial Fund. Sallyâ€™s $2,500 in winnings went straight to the cause.
Kelly and Owen were the last two standing in Tahiti, as well, and Owen apparently wasnâ€™t ready to settle for another second to Slater. He opened with a 7.0 and immediately racked up another really big score, a 9.23 for a series of vertical snaps and some clean slob-ish grab. Mere minutes in, he had Kelly comboed. Ten minutes later, Wright snagged an 8.60. 8.67. 9.23. Â Itâ€™s not like Kelly wasnâ€™t keeping up, but he went for a shit ton of ridiculous airs and floaters that didnâ€™t pay off when he didnâ€™t stick â€˜em. With less than a minute remaining, he broke his board and was forced to take a bow. Some may say that Kelly was surfing desperately, surfing recklessly, surfing with little regard for contest strategy. I donâ€™t know if I agree. I think Kelly was surfing for himself; trying things out and having fun with it. Whatever he was doing out there, it was entertaining, and he seemed happy to share in Owenâ€™s hard-fought win.
“Owen’s first win–this is going to be a memory for his whole life and I’m stoked to be in that final with him,â€ he said. â€œI’m a hundred per cent confident that he’s going to get at least one world title. He’s basically still a rookie, and in my opinion he’s probably the most well-rounded guy on tour.â€
The tourâ€™s next stop is the Hurley Pro at Lowers–the waiting period begins September 18th. Owen currently sits at second in the world, behind Slater, and after two consecutive finals against Kelly, I know Iâ€™ll be watching to see if he can make it a third and, potentially, slide into the lead at Trestles.
QUIKSILVER PRO NEW YORK FINAL:
1 â€“ Owen Wright (AUS) 17.90
2 â€“ Kelly Slater (USA) 14.53
QUIKSILVER PRO NEW YORK SEMIFINALS RESULTS:
SF 1: Kelly Slater (USA) 19.07 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 18.33
SF 2: Owen Wright (AUS) 14.84 def. Alejo Muniz (BRA) 9.63
QUIKSILVER PRO NEW YORK QUARTERFINALS RESULTS:
QF 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) 14.77 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 14.37
QF 2: Kelly Slater (AUS) 15.50 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 15.00
QF 3: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 12.10 def. Heitor Alves (BRA) 10.10
QF 4: Owen Wright (AUS) 12.93 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 12.44
ASP WORLD TITLE TOP 10 (After Quiksilver Pro New York):
1. Kelly Slater (USA) 34950 pts
2. Owen Wright (AUS) 31,900 pts
3. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 30,200 pts
4. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 27,000 pts
5. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 26,750 pts
6. Josh Kerr (AUS) 25,600 pts
7. Taj Burrow (AUS) 25,250 pts
8. Mick Fanning (AUS) 23,000 pts
9. Michel Bourez (PYF) 20,500 pts
10. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 19,700 pts