KIRRA, Queensland/Australia (Wednesday, March 13, 2013) - Kelly Slater (USA), 41, 11-time ASP World Champion and 2012 ASP World Runner-Up, has claimed the 2013 Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast presented by Land Rover in firing three-to-five foot (1 - 1.5 metre) barrels at Kirra over reigning ASP World Champion Joel Parkinson (AUS), 31, in front of a capacity crowd on the Gold Coast.
The opening stop on the 2013 ASP World Championship Tour (WCT), the Quiksilver Gold Coast culminated in fine fashion today with a tube-riding shootout between two of the sport's greatest champions.
Slater and Parkinson opened their 40-minute Final bout with a rapid-fire exchange of tube-riding displays, vaulting the lead back and forth before Slater nailed a 9.93 for an incredibly-deep barrel punctuated by a full-velocity forehand gaff.
"It was just fun today," Slater said. "I really wanted to surf Kirra as I made known the other day and it was great fun out there. We thought the swell was going to be too East, but it's really really good out there and to get to surf it with Joel (Parkinson) is even better. He's one of the best and we had a lot of fun out there."
Today win marks Slater's 52nd elite tour victory of his career, but the iconic Floridian admits that it's a long season ahead in terms of the hunt for the 2013 ASP World Title.
"They're all important but it's nice to get off to a good start," Slater said. "The three top seeds - Joel, myself and Mick all finished in the top three spots and Michel (Bourez) had a great event too. Momentum shifts throughout each season and a lot can happen. It's probably the most talented field that has ever been on tour and there are nine more events. I'm committed to the tour this season."
Parkinson looked unbeatable on the final day of the event, collecting a Perfect 10 in his morning Semifinal before posting an excellent 17.47 in his Final against Slater. However, the impressive scoreline would prove insufficient against the American's onslaught and the reigning ASP World Champion would post a Runner-Up finish in the opening event of the year.
"When Kirra is doing what it's doing out there today, it doesn't feel like an event," Parkinson said. "I had some great waves and a lot of fun, and to get to do it with the singlet on is icing on the cake. I appreciate all the local support out here today and Runner-Up is a good start to the season. Bring on Bells."
Mick Fanning (AUS), 31, two-time ASP World Champion (2007, 2009), went down in a barrel shootout this morning with Slater. Despite opening up with an impressive scoreline and an early lead, the Kirra local would ultimately fall to Slater in the dying moments of the heat - 18.60 to 19.37.
"It's a tough way to go out but you can't be too upset when you put together a heat like that," Fanning said. "I had a really good start and put in some solid scores. Kelly (Slater) just did his 'Kelly Thing' and got that incredible 10 and really put himself back in the hunt. Shame I couldn't get to the Final with Joel (Parkinson), but it's a good start to the year so I'll refocus and get ready for Bells."
Fanning collects an Equal 3rd place finish in the opening event of the season.
Michel Bourez (PYF), 27, opened up this morning's action with a Semifinal bout against Parkinson. Despite being universally-celebrated as one of the most powerful surfers throughout the event, the Tahitian found himself at odds this morning after the Australian's quick start to their clash.
"It was such a hard heat against Parko (Joel Parkinson)," Bourez said. "He's a local and he got a 10 on his first wave. It was kind of embarrassing for me as I was waiting and sitting out there for too long and Joel was able to catch a lot of waves. It's alright though. It's my best result at this event. I feel great, my boards are going well and I can't wait for Bells."
The next stop on the 2013 ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) will be the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach presented by Ford from March 27 - April 7, 2013.