Kelly Slater Thrills in Western Australia
10-time ASP World Champion and surfing icon Kelly Slater (USA) made a highly anticipated return to the south-west corner of Australia, pulling on a contest jersey at the Telstra Drug Aware Pro at Margaret River for the first time since 1993.
It was a nerve-wracking return for Slater who spent the vast majority of his opening 30-minute heat staring at elimination via relative unknown qualifiers Billy Stairmand (NZ), Gony Zubizarreta (ESP) and Brazilian David do Carmo (BRA).
However, like so many times over the course of his illustrious career, Slater found last-minute waves, weaved his magic and took the lead to advance on to next round Round of 48.
“There wasn’t a lot of waves and there was some hassling going down,” said Slater post heat. “It’s tricky with 4 guys fighting for 2 wave sets. I wasn’t too worried though; I just needed a wave. I only needed a six and if I can’t get a six on an open faced wave I shouldn’t be here.” Slater’s two-wave combined total of 12.36, saw him progress comfortably to the next round.
Australian Mick Fanning had zero problems in the peaky two-to-three metre waves, scoring the day’s top scoring ride, an outstanding 9.0 in his big win over Richard Christie (NZ).
With a massive four-to-five metre swell expected to hit the Margaret River region within the coming 24 hours, surf fans are in for a treat with all surfers, Slater included, preparing for conditions rarely seen outside of Hawaii.
“I looked at the maps this morning and it looks big,” said Slater. “It’s probably going to peak at 20 foot waves with 30 foot faces. I don’t know what board I’m going to ride yet; I just show up and check the conditions. The sets could be 20 foot, but I might want to be on the 8-foot in-betweeners. I do generally try to ride the smallest boards possible though.”
The event will recommence tomorrow morning as the massive swell begins to arrive.
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