In a thrilling day of surfing in epic 8 foot barreling waves, Kelly Slater finished 2nd in the Quiksilver Pro France to Australia’s Mick Fanning and moved a step closer to clinching an incredible 10th world title.
“What a contest,” said Kelly. “This is what we live for.” He started off the day with an impressive win over Tahitian Michel Bourez and then combo-ed Californian Brett Simpson in the semis by scoring the only perfect 10 point wave of the contest – a frothy beast where he somehow managed stay on his feet after side slipping into a heavy barrel and then came flying out to huge cheers from the crowd.
“I started terrible and finished terrible but I was good in between,” he said. “It’s been 15 years since I’ve won in France. I thought it was my day today until the final.”
Kelly is now leading Jordy Smith by 7250 ratings points in the updated standings and is ahead of Fanning by 8500. He’s not mathematically capable of clinching his tenth title at the next event in Portugal, but if he continues his current blistering form and stays ahead of Smith and Fanning it could happen at the following contest in Puerto Rico.
Kelly was typically magnanimous in defeat today. “Mick owed me one,” he said. “I got him twice this year.” About his chances for 10 he said, “I think the title race will go to Pipeline. I still have a lot of work to do.”
Standing in his way will be Smith and Fanning. “It’s a start,” said Fanning about his win. “I’m going to Portugal now and have a of fun.”
Smith, who was defeated by Fanning and in the quarterfinals, had this to say about the title race: “He’s a 9-time world champion. He probably should get a tenth.”
For the full story and to check out photos and videos from the entire event click here.