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Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Updated: September 20, 9:52 PM ET
Slater slips, Parko puts it together

By Jake Howard

Six of the last seven finals at Lowers have featured Kelly Slater, and until the dying seconds of the first heat of round four, the most stacked heat of the Hurley Pro thus far, the 11-time world champ was making a strong bid to keep the stat going. But then, in a perfect example of how uncivil things get when the priority rule is not in place, Slater and Julian Wilson got tangled up, Slater was called for an interference while Taj Burrow sneaked through. Slater and Wilson were relegated to glaring at each other.

"Such a gift, it's not often Kelly hands out gifts," smiled Burrow, giggling like a school girl in neon orange boardshorts.

"It's a perfect example of why we need a three-man priority system," said Slater. "Everyone's going to pull it apart the way they want to, but I thought I had the wedge ... in my eyes he did interfere on me. But it's the way it goes sometimes, you hope you don't get put in situations like that, but you're not going to get all the calls."

"It was Julian's wave every day of the week. There was no discussion about it, it was clear as day," said ASP head judge Richie Porta.

"It's kind of a strange heat to surf, but it kind of takes the pressure off before you get into high gear for the later rounds," said Slater when asked about his attitude going into his Burrow/Wilson battle.

Joel Parkinson
Parko's quietly made it into the quarters, and "anything but a final" will be a disappointment.

Nobody's really a loser in round four, a quarterfinal berth gained, but nothing lost. Slater and Wilson will surf again in the morning, and could possibly meet in the semifinals. Making the turn after round three, 9 of the 12 remaining surfers are sitting in the top 10, and by day's end Burrow, Joel Parkinson, Ace Buchan and John Florence have already advanced into the quarters.

Parko's quietly been one of the standouts of the contest so far, and today he chalked up two near-perfect high nine-point rides before breaking his magic board on his last wave of the day.

"Nothing but a final. We're getting to that time of the year, where the top four guys are really close, you can't have a result from here on out," said Parko. And to be sure, the world title race is tightening up quick.

As far as he take on the Slater/Wilson interference, he noted, "It sucks. They're using a three-man priority format on the boogie boarding tour, so we might take a look at implementing that next year."

For the those goofy-footed fans, Buchan's been on point all week, and by nailing a nine-point ride at the end of his heat against Jeremy Flores and world number one Mick Fanning, he's into the quarters and already has his best-ever result at Lowers.

Kelly Slater
Slater was looking good for a spot in the quarters until an interference in the final minutes of his round four heat slowed him down. The champ was not a happy man.

"I tried to hang in there, and I knew if a wave came at the end I could get the score," said Buchan. "I love this round, it's my favorite round of the contest. I just think for the fans it's good to see everybody surf one more time."

And to finish off the day third ranked Florence exerted himself over Adriano De Souza and big Jordy Smith. At year's end both Florence and Smith will see their respective contracts with O'Neill expire, so both may be carrying some alterer motives, what with surfing the most high-performance wave on tour in the industry's backyard and all. Perhaps they're displaying their wears.

The round five match-ups are stacked, the southern hemi swell is expected to hand in there, and "we're going to wrap this thing up on Thursday," says Hurley's Evan Slater.

Heat 1: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Mick Fanning (AUS)
Heat 2: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)
Heat 3: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Jordy Smith (ZAF)
Heat 4: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Gabriel Medina (BRA)

Heat 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) 12.93, Julian Wilson (AUS) 12.60, Kelly Slater (USA) 11.20
Heat 2: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 17.23, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 15.97, Mick Fanning (AUS) 10.17
Heat 3: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 17.87, Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.40, Josh Kerr (AUS) 13.63
Heat 4: John John Florence (HAW) 18.57, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 16.27, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 12.67

Heat 1: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.70 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 10.00
Heat 2: Julian Wilson (AUS) 14.03 def. Alejo Muniz (BRA) 12.34
Heat 3: Taj Burrow (AUS) 15.60 def. Adam Melling (AUS) 14.30
Heat 4: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 16.20 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 12.23
Heat 5: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 18.13 def. Heitor Alves (BRA) 8.93
Heat 6: Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.34 def. Dusty Payne (HAW) 13.33
Heat 7: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 18.33 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 13.33
Heat 8: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 17.37 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 17.06
Heat 9: Josh Kerr (AUS) 13.53 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 9.67
Heat 10: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 17.20 def. Travis Logie (ZAF) 15.77
Heat 11: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.67 def. Brett Simpson (USA) 10.90
Heat 12: John John Florence (HAW) 14.44 def. Yadin Nicol (AUS) 9.90