Taj ended up going down to Sebastian Zietz in a tightly-fought last-minute affair. Photo: ASP.
#8 Taj BURROW – Fiji #9 – ASP #4
Inconsistent performance for Taj, posting heats scores that danced between 4.9pts and 18.1pts for an uncanny 11.69pts heat average. His 9th place finish could just as well be a 25th, the Australian being totally ghostly in his first two rounds (only one wave ridden in Rd1) winning over MELLING by a narrow margin of 1/10 of a point. He redeems himself straight from Rd3, combining deep tubes with a fistful of strong, vicious backside hacks. His blow-by-blow Rd5 match-up versus Seabass was nerve wrecking, Taj doing the mistake that pretty much all of the other WCT veterans did or will keep on doing: letting Zietz the kid without supervision in the last 3 minutes. Same sanction for everyone, Taj gets beaten afterbuzzer by the Hawaiian and goes back home with a second consecutive 9th. Wait for him to blow-tail his way back to the finals in Bali, Taj owns his summer house a stone throw away from the contest site and will not allow anybody to pee on his cute white-picket fence.
#7 Adriano DE SOUZA – Fiji #25 – ASP #5
Adriano left Fiji like any respectable experience hippie leaves Burning Man: a mean, painful acid drop. Straight after two finals in a row, he adds up a second last place finish to his score card and goes from ranking leader down to 5th in the blink of an eye, meaning there is no more room for any other mistake in the season. Properly schooled by Mitch COLEBORN’s 19.33 total during Rd1, he comes up short versus Yadin in a Rd2 he surfed in complete apnea, seeing the specter of a 25th place approaching, DE SOUZA appeared tense, out of rhythm, misreading and mistiming his sections. His hail mary tube was close, but no cigar as he blew the closing out maneuver. Hard hit on the Brazilian, who flew the very next day straight to Bali to wash this loss off and getting ready for the upcoming event. Don’t forget he also got a 25th finish in Snapper before ringing it at Bells and boosting serious airs for a runner-up finish in Rio.
#6 Sebastian ZIETZ – Fiji #5 – ASP #9
…and Seabass did it again ! Moonwalking his way up to the Quarters with the same flair, casualness and visible fun. The Hawaiian rookie has been consistently pissing off the big names, paying close to no attention to priorities, strategy, hierarchy or whatever rules he is supposed to be following anyway. With no pressure on his shoulders, Seabass sneaked his way through each rounds thanks to an unbelievable confidence in his surfing, going for broke in the dying seconds, popping out with the needed score in front of a gutted field of over-pressurized, annoying surf superstars. His run only stopped when, opposed to scary Kelly in the Quarters, for the first time the Triple Crown winner looked tense, and quite possibly his confidence went a little further down when the beach announcer asked him to score a combo of 20,01 points. Guess there’s no shame in losing when you mathematically can’t win. Between his wicked air game in Bali and the hereby proven backside barrel prowess he will bring to Tahiti, Seabass can definitely climb up the ladder and aim at a Top 5 ranking exiting the reef leg of the Tour.
Copping a fair amount of stick from fellow competitors for missing his Round 1 heat, Parko made a respectable comeback with some flawless tube negotiating. Photo: ASP.
#5 Joel PARKINSON – Fiji #5 – ASP#7
After a catastrophic couple of months and some obvious issues living up to his long-awaited World Champ status, Joel, thanks maybe to his newfound love of deep-sea fishing – or the simple frustration of being kicked out too early from events – seems to be back on track with, finally, a solid, deserved performance in Fiji. (16.79pts heat average) and most of all freed from his annoying post-crowning fatuity. The fact he screwed up so many times since Snapper definitely helped resetting the judges’ opinion about him, as at the beginning of the season Parko was scored high 9’s on ordinary pit farts. Flawless barrel reading, jaw-dropping-snowboard-inspired-nutsack-grinding-cutbacks, it’s good to see Joel surfing at his real level, and simply having fun in his heats (4 heats over 18pts). However, with already two throwaways of 13th on his season board, he will have to post some serious results to come back into the Title race, results which could come back as soon as next week in Bali, wave that suits perfectly his surfing if he’s really back to his 2012 form.
#4 John John FLORENCE – Fiji #3 – ASP #18
Three heats over 19 points and a 3rd place finish say a lot about the success of the ankle rehab for “zeeeeee” best barrel rider in the World. Double John surfed only two events this year and yet he is already ranked 18th, ready to win a couple more in Bali and Teahupoo over the next few weeks and attack the Title. In Fiji he was as freakish as expected, making his b*tch of any reef monster as if it was a 2ft beachie, obviously reading the wave and riding the barrel like no one else; JJF was just as strong on his face turns, surprisingly confident and casual with such a freshly fixed ankle, he was going from smooth, smart and tender inside the tube to totally apesh*t on his backside hacks, stalling and trying turns where everybody chose to race down the line. Second best heat average of the event after the bald alien (16,84pts), added 2 perfect 10 – shoulda been 4 if you ask me – to his collection (that’s already 5 in 3 seasons), JJF is, with Kelly, pretty much the only surfer you can have a mental boner picturing winning with ease all of the remaining events: Keramas, Teahupoo, Trestles, Hossegor, Supertubos, Pipe. If he keeps having fun in doing events, he may as well just rule the world for the next decade or so.
Mick’s backhand tube riding skills were second to none in Fiji, not to say his open face turns weren’t doing it too though. Photo: ASP.
#3 Mick FANNING – Fiji #2 – ASP #2
Mick went one up from his 3rd last year, working his ass off as he had to surf all the rounds from event start to the final. He scored most of his points on faceturns (apart from Rd5), murdering every sections with a unique rebound between his razor-sharp bottom turns and the power and torque of his off the lips and hooks off the tops, free falling straight into another smacker. Still short of a victory in Fiji (and Pipe, he won pretty much every other events) he seemed as lethal and technical as ever in the few barrels he could find, but just went short to a mystic Slater in the final. Maybe one of the only “old school” (oh Lord, really ?) surfer able to match the youngsters’ airgame with his aggressive, sharp competitive surfing in Bali, before another final round in Tahiti where he won last season.
#2 Jordy SMITH – Fiji #5 – ASP #3
Seating on the top of the World with Mick and Kelly on a comfortable 4.000pts pillow, Jordy, who until now never really scored any major result on his backhand barrel, nailed another impeccable result in Fiji. As 2013 tends to become HIS breakthrough season, Jordy showed little-to-no flaws during the whole event, steadily posting smart heat wins thanks to a drastically improved backhand repertoire. His raw power is now more controlled, better timed and his barrel reading turned from “good” to “A-grade” in comparison to last year’s. When not getting shacked, Jordy could be found spending most of his time slaughtering innocent sections or mooning french surfers on his way to the Quarters. Unsurprisingly though, he falls short to a one-sided tubefest against Double John. If Jordy keeps his mojo up, he can hurt some souls in Bali, matching both Michel’s power surfing and Julian’s aerial prodigy.
Kelly, God-like in every way. Photo: ASP.
#1 Kelly SLATER – Fiji #1 – ASP #1
It’s almost impossible to describe Kelly’s performance in Fiji without spreading a sticky layer of moist superlatives and Belieber-like idolatry. What Slater did in Fiji is what he pretty much did in Kirra back at the beginning of the season. No pleasure in beating anybody, just the sheer joy of winning thanks not only to his God-like surfing abilities, but also to his unmatchable experience, knowledge and analysis of what contest surfing is. The 11-time World Champ has been more focused on pushing surfing’s boundaries over the last 4 years, than actually adding another event trophy to his wanking room. To quote legendary Col. John ‘Hannibal’ SMITH: “I love it when a plan comes together”, and that’s what is still giving the bald man some butterfly up his alien bum. Kelly observes, studies, mind surfs everything and draws every possible back-up plan. Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” says it all: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt”. Kelly snowboarded the foamball on another freak midget 5’9” epoxy quad (he won last year on a 5’9″) and had more control than anybody else, in any section of the waves he knows better than anyone. It was all in there people: the perfect 20, the 17,90pts heat average, the queasy collection of high 9’s, the back-to-#1-on-the-ranking and insulting global domination: it was all part of the plan. Dr Evil striked again and you’d better get ready for many more shameful man-crushes in the next events.