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Friday, December 12, 2008
Bloggin' From Da Rock: Slater's Numerology


Massive rains that flooded Haleiwa the day before the final, chocolate milk-colored water that looked more like a run through Willy Wonka's factory than the Pipe Masters, and some of the thickest, most dense 8-footers to come through Pipe and Backdoor in Lord knows how long. With the dramatic backdrop set Kelly took stage. In a day of memorable moments one definitely worthy of mention, and one that harkened back to one of the most famous rides in North Shore history—the MR/Shaun Tomson dual tube—knowing he was sitting in combo land, in the dying seconds of their quarterfinal heat Jamie O'Brien asked Kelly if he'd be keen to ride a barrel together. Jamie agreed to take it "high and wide," Kelly took it tight, riding out front. They blurred through an 8-foot Backdoor slab together. Kelly made it. Jamie got swallowed by the foam ball. The beach went nuts.

Up until that point Kelly had rattled everbody—even Jamie, who's owned Pipe and Backdoor all winter long. "I don't understand it," stammered Ian Walsh, in his ever-present sarcastic tone, the first semifinal—Kelly Slater vs. Timmy Reyesin the water. After battling back from a bad bout wth food poisoning Ian had just gotten out of his upstairs bed at Red Bull's Off The Wall house. He continued, "I go down to Micronesia with him, he gets the best waves, I get skunked. He gets back just in time and barely makes his Round 3 heat. I miss my heat. He wins the Pipe Masters. I get food poisoning. Now look, he just dropped a 10, what is it with that guy?" And that was pretty much the day's theme: whatever anybody else can do Kelly does better. Today he mowed through Kieren Perrow, Jamie O'Brien, Timmy Reyes and Chris Ward to claim his sixth Pipe Masters crown, and prove once again that he's just better than everybody else.

Nobody was more inspired by Kelly than Parko—especially when, with less than five minutes left, Kelly needed a combination of scores to beat Timmy Reyes in the semifinal. Somehow Kelly racked up a 9.6 and 10 in a matter of about 90 seconds. With the Tripe Crown title dangling in the balance Parko watched Kelly's 10 from the backyard of the Gerry Lopez/Volcom and almost jumped through the boards of the second-story deck when the score dropped. Then the plot thickened. If Kelly beat Wardo in the final Parko won the Triple Crown, and if Wardo won he would get the Triple Crown. Obviously we all know what happened...which means, yes, Parko is your Triple Crown champion. "All Parko wanted to do was come over here and win the Triple Crown," said Billabong's Enich Harris, smiling as he walked down the bike path. "This means more than anything to him."

Even Kelly's boards are freakish in nature. Pulling out a 5'11" thumbtail that he affectionately dubbed the "Deep Six," Kelly's equipment was unconventional to say the least. A stubby little plug with minimal rocker, he designed it on the Channel Islands computer, Al Merrick finish shaped it, and for as wide as the front half was, apparently the back half was taken from a pulled in 6'8".

But just so you know, even Kelly gets flogged from time to time. On a thick, double-up Pipe wave Kelly pulled the rip chord halfway down the face, when in mid air he got absolutely swatted by the lip. Of course he didn't seemed too fazed, but as Florida grommet Evan Gieselman astutely pointed out, "that would have blown my arms and legs off." "I don't know what kind of deal he made," posed Maui's Kai Barger, "but I want to talk to the devil."

"My season is all about nines," told the media after being crowned the 2008 Pipe Master. "Winning this event nine years later, I needed a ninth in the ninth event of the year to win my ninth ASP World title, it's crazy." The year, the day, the afternoon, it all goes to Kelly. He wins everything. Nine world titles, six Pipe Masters crowns, six event wins this year, blah, blah, blah. All you really need to know is he's the best there is, best there was, and yes, to round out this bad cliché, the best there ever will be&no question.

Do you think he'll still want to go play golf tomorrow?" asked Julian Wilson somewhere between the quarter and semifinals. Tomorrow Julian, Kelly, and a handful of others are bound for a golf course on the Big Island. "Oh yeah, he'll be there. There's even going to be waves," added Saxon Boucher, who was busy trying to figure out foursomes when Julian asked if Kelly was still keen.