Slater rules the waves; look out for Florence

Gary Kewley
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Friday - September 21, 2007
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Pancho Sullivan is now No. 8
Pancho Sullivan is now No. 8 in the world after six events; he placed second behind Kelly Slater in the Boost Mobile Pro Saturday - his best yet

Aloha surfers and beachgoers, First wave: We live in an energizing time for surfing; there’s so much going on. Last weekend current world touring champs finished up with the Boost Mobile Pro in California, and future champs completed the Billabong Juniors at Sunset Beach. The surf community just came together in a beautiful fundraiser supporting a beautiful friend, Jeannie Chesser. In addition,the last couple of weeks have seen super fun waves grace both town and country shores, and there’s even more to follow! When I stand back from a grateful perspective life is good ... as good as it gets.

Second wave: I’m not going to apologize for adding to the long list of high praise for Kelly Slater. This guy is tuning into some higher frequency, flying over some extraterrestrial terrain. He’s got more world records than any sportsman in their sport ... the eight world titles,the youngest and oldest world champ, the six Pipe Masters, the Eddie Aikau win, the most money, the most events, the most women, etc., etc. And now he’s just added two more records, one of which shall not be broken in your lifetime ... even if you’re not born yet.

Slater just won the Boost Mobile Pro in California for the second year in a row (never been done). But by doing this he just won his freakish 34th world tour event victory, surpassing Tom Curren’s 16-year reign at 33 elite wins. He’s also bumped up to second place with four events to go as he heads to France. Kelly beat Hawaii’s Pancho Sullivan,who had his best result/first ASP final. Slater was even thinking about dropping out early this season. Current No. 1-ranked Aussie Mick Fanning was, up till now, believed to be da man to catch, but with little chance; Mick has just surfed nearly perfect this season.But now ask anyone and they’ll admit you just can’t count out the greatest surfer of all time. I know I’ve changed my mind. How does he do this over and over and over? Can I have some, please?

This tour is the bomb ... and Slater may just drop one on everyone for the ninth time.

As for world records, you watch the event as it happens and it’s almost surreal. It all boils down to specific moments that add up to extraordinary. When Kelly is “exploding,” spectators, top-level pros, judges and commentators literally laugh in awe and disbelief. He’s got limits that nobody else has. Yet, he’s just human ... I think.

Third Wave: Back to Earth. What about our future stars? One could be John John Florence, if he so chooses. The 14-year-old just bested the pro field of Hawaii’s top surfers under the age of 21! His contest was the boys division of the Billabong Junior Pro in Memory of Ronnie Burns. It was held in perfect 2- to 4-foot Sunset Beach. Florence is still considered an amateur surfer, although he has competed in several professional events on the North Shore in recent years. Mason Ho of Oahu’s North Shore placed second, followed by Dusty Payne of Maui and Casey Brown of the Big Island.Each one of these guys has a lot of talent and will likely be on the Fosters Dream World Tour someday.All four finalists will represent Hawaii at the Billabong Junior Pro World Championship at North Narrabeen, Australia, in January 2008. Congrats also goes out to Alessa Quizon of Waianae,who won the girls’ division earlier that week.

I witnessed Florence’s talent out at Pipe about two seasons ago. He fell out of the sky on a late drop as the lip pitched over his head. Quickly, he grabbed his rail and snapped his board under just in time to avoid the guillotine lip. He was deep; the wave was 5 feet and fast. I can’t even think that fast. But by this time I was thinking “No way!” Now I could only see the wave’s barreling back. Sure enough he rockets out at the end like it was just another wave, another day. OK, now I see what all the fuss is about. Reminded me of Jamie O’Brien as a youngster when I lived with him and his dad, Mick.

It’s so fun to be a surfer ... even if you’re just watching! Stoked!

I’ll catch you in the surf, at SURFNEWSNETWORK.COM and back here next week.

GQ, Dropping In 4 U!

Thanks to Karen Wilson (photo-journalist) .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for capturing the moment.

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