San Clemente, CA, USA (Monday, September 9) Six-time world champion Kelly Slater (USA) today led the charge into the semifinals of the Boost Mobile Pro presented by Billabong. The US$286,275 World Championship Tournament (WCT) – the richest in professional history – began this morning at Lower Trestles in epic conditions with remaining round three heats, and then ran straight through round four and all quarterfinals clashes. Semifinals and the grand finale are scheduled to take place tomorrow morning.
Perfect 6-8 ft (2-2.5m) waves were on offer as the world’s top rated surfers put on an amazing show, arguably the best ever witnessed at the famous Californian break.
Slater, 30, became the first surfer to reach the semifinals today by amassing the highest overall two-wave total of the tournament for 18.6 points against fellow Floridian Damien Hobgood. Having earlier eliminated Darren O’Rafferty (Aus) in round four, he lifted his game even further against Hobgood with a near-perfect 9.6 first ride, following a series of huge top turns and searing cutbacks, and then locked in another 9.0 for a lead never threatened. As well as these, he then secured the Oakley Over-The Top Bonus for his next 8.5 ride, whereby busting his fins and tail off the back of the wave during a powerful re-entry.
“I wasn’t looking to get the highest total of the contest, I was just trying to win that heat,” said Slater after the enthralling performance. “I don’t want to blow my momentum too early. I still feel like I’m building up and even though I had those scores then, I don’t know they reflect truly what more can happen out there. We’ll see what happens.
“It’s been incredible,” he reflected on the day. “The waves are just doubling up and running down the line with a perfect lip and walls with great shape. It’s magical out there. Dolphins even started swimming through… It just sounds great to be in the semifinals. I couldn’t pick a better event to have my best result in this year, back in America, on the mainland.
Hobgood, who stopped Paul Canning (SAfr) in round four, was never really in contention against Slater. Despite executing some fantastic maneuvers, his wave selection ultimately let him down and he had to settle for his equal best finish this season in fifth.
“I was definitely all fired up for that heat,” said Hobgood. “I knew I needed to be on the good waves, but I just blew it from the get-go. I went the wrong waves and he made me pay for it. I was trying to have fun, but it’s not too much fun when you lose.”
Current #8 Luke Egan (Aus) now faces Slater in the first semifinal after overcoming two mountainous opponents today in Joel Parkinson (Aus) and then former world #2 wildcard Shane Beschen (USA). While the heat with fellow Gold Coaster Parkinson was fairly contained in comparison to the surfing and scores witnessed in other heats, his duel with Beschen was a smoker. The Australian dominated from the outset with his relentless backhand attack, securing a 9.55 second ride and another 7.9 two waves later.
“I’m stoked,” said Egan, as his Aussie mates cheered from the competitor’s viewing area. “The waves are pumping. Some of the best high performance surf ever. Credit to Shane as he hasn’t been competing much lately and he’s still ripping. One turn he did straight in front of me was incredible.
“I’ve just trying to keep the same game plan and improve my own performance every heat and chip away,” he continued. “Seems to be working so far. I haven’t worried about who I was against all event and I’m going to keep it that way.”
Beschen, who won and epic heat over fellow Californian Taylor Knox this morning, pulled off one spectacular turn against Egan, but still required another ride worth 8.96 points. Still, the quarterfinal placing reminded all his surfing belongs on the WCT.
“It just came down to my waves,” reasoned Beschen after defeat. “He got the 9.55 and I needed an 8.91. I knew I was capable of getting it, but still needed the right wave to do it.
“Even though I’m not on the WCT I still have the same mind frame,” he continued. “These guys are my equals and I don’t look at them as any more or less. Even though I was stoked to win those earlier heats, in my mind I felt like I should win those heats. I’m glad I put in a good performance and did some radical surfing.”
Guilherme Herdy kept the Brazilian flag flying, eliminating Nathan Hedge (Aus) on the final wave of their round four bout, and then an in-form Danny Wills (Aus) the following heat. The goofy footer belted the right-handers on his backhand, collecting two eight plus scores.
“Very stoked,” said Herdy. “Danny’s an excellent surfer. I just tried to get the good waves and do strong maneuvers to beat him. I found the bigger waves and had a lot of luck, and maybe did the right things.
“It’s perfect for me as I need these points,” he continued, since injuries and a perforated eardrum plagued the start of his season. “The year just started for me on the WCT these last two contests. This is a blessing and I’m so stoked. I’ll try my best to make the final.”
Wills, who dominated his match with 2000 world champion Sunny Garcia (Haw) the previous round, was unable to repeat the result against Herdy. Although one of the form surfers today, he too had to settle with equal fifth.
“There weren’t a lot of good waves in that heat and the rip was pushing us a bit wider than where I wanted to be,” said Wills. “I had a good day, though. It’s good to surf well in good waves. It’s a bummer I didn’t get a chance to make it a little further, but it was good to beat Sunny earlier, and I’m just looking forward to the European events now.”
Michael Campbell (Aus) secured the last semifinal position after three blistering performances today. First he eliminated current ratings #3 Shea Lopez (USA) this morning, before posting the best single wave score of the entire event against last WCT winner Mick Fanning (Aus) for 9.8 points on his opening ride. Against Phil MacDonald he continued his run, bashing vertical re-entries to create an all goofy footer’s second semifinal against Herdy.
“Phil’s been surfing insane all week,” said Campbell. “I got two strong ones and fortunately ‘Macca’ didn’t find a second one. That’s the way it goes.
“I’m feeling pretty good and my boards are working really well,” he continued. “The waves have been excellent down here at Trestles. It’s one of the best performance waves in the world and I just hope the swell hangs around for tomorrow’s finals. It should be a great day and match up against Guilherme. It’ll be interesting to see who does big turns and makes them.”
MacDonald, who accounted for fellow Aussie Trent Munro in round four, impressed all with his powerful forehand surfing and secured his best result to date.
“I got some good waves out there today, but in that last heat just choose the wrong ones,” said MacDonald. “To Mick’s credit he was ripping all day. He thrashed me out there, but I’ll just take it on the chin. At least one of my good mates got through, so I hope he can go all the way.
“It’s a good confidence booster,” he added, in the lead up to Europe. “There were really good waves out here and I felt like I surfed alright. Hopefully I can do one better in Europe and make the semis of the final next time.”
The Boost Mobile Pro Presented by Billabong is the richest surfing competition ever. The cash prize purse for the men’s competition is US$250,000, of which US$30,000 goes to first place. Additionally, the winner will receive a JEEP WRANGLER SE worth US$16,275. The Oakley Over-The-Top bonus will add US$10,000 and the Billabong/Boost Air Show will contribute another US$10,000 to the mix. All together, US$286,275 will be distributed.
Official results of the Boost Mobile Pro presented by Billabong
- QF1: Kelly Slater (USA) 18.6 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 6.9
- QF2: Luke Egan (Aus) 17.45 def. Shane Beschen (USA) 16.15
- QF3: Guilherme Herdy (Brz) 17.1 def. Danny Wills (Aus) 11.85
- QF4: Michael Campbell (Aus) 16.25 def. Phil MacDonald (Aus) 14.0
- H1: Damien Hobgood (USA) 16.1 def. Paul Canning (SAfr) 12.9
- H2: Kelly Slater (USA) 16.0 def. Darren O’Rafferty (Aus) 13.65
- H3: Luke Egan (Aus) 13.65 def. Joel Parkinson (Aus) 11.5
- H4: Shane Beschen (USA) 15.5 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 15.15
- H5: Guilherme Herdy (Brz) 16.15 def. Nathan Hedge (Aus) 14.75
- H6: Danny Wills (Aus) 17.65 def. Sunny Garcia (Haw) 15.65
- H7: Phil MacDonald (Aus) 17.5 def. Trent Munro (Aus) 13.5
- H8: Michael Campbell (Aus) 17.85 def. Mick Fanning (Aus) 16.85
- H15: Michael Campbell (Aus) 17.0 def. Shea Lopez (USA) 14.0
- H16: Mick Fanning (Aus) 17.5 def. Nathan Webster (Aus) 14.25
Oakley Over-The-Top Bonus awarded to Kelly Slater (USA) for tail busting re-entry.
Upcoming Semifinal Match-ups
- SF1: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Luke Egan (Aus)
- SF2: Guilherme Herdy (Brz) vs. Michael Campbell (Aus)
For more information on the Boost Mobile Pro, see www.BoostMobile.com