Archive for September 2011

A new hope…   Leave a comment

It’s only been a week since the quest began but after Tahiti we were all searching for someone who would put Kelly Slater “out to pasture” as he so eloquently put it. Well…we found our guy in that of Owen Wright. The same guy whom Kelly barely edged out in Tahiti is maybe the only guy in the world at this point who can take Kelly on and keep him from 2011. I know that’s a bold statement but I’m standing by it. This is a guy in his second year on tour and in less than two weeks he’s demonstrated something that no one else on tour has: a balance of well rounded capacity in the tour’s waves and an unflappable mental approach.

Credit first to the fact that he’s shown he can show up in any stop on tour and be a difference maker. He has two 13ths that are throwaways coming from J-Bay and Snapper BUT he also garnered a 5th at Bells, another 5th at Brazil (where he got taken out by a fist pumping garden gnome), a 2nd in dredging Tahiti (against the greatest surfer of all time), and then claims his maiden victory in a sleeper performance beach break against the very same greatest surfer of all time. Owen’s one of only a few guys who can go from two foot Brazil to ten foot Tahiti and snag at least a quarters finish. He can loft stupid airs and bury his rail. He can hack point breaks on his backhand and stand tall in the barrel. More importantly…he can lose close to the ten-time world champ…and shake it off a week later.

Unlike Taj Burrow, all formalities and politeness aside, Kelly Slater is just another guy to Owen Wright when he draws him in a heat. Maybe the week turnover in waiting periods helped but Owen bounced back faster than Rory Mcilroy after the U.S Open meltdown. Especially after Kelly smacked Taj late in that semi-final heat with a ten, I kept thinking that he was just laying in wait to break Owen’s heart in the dying minutes but it never happened. Cold as ice, Owen went to work early with solid surfing and scores and took the world champ to task in New York. He’s a cold-blooded killer in the water and all smiles out of it. NO ONE and I mean NO ONE matches up with Kelly mentally and tactically but Owen comes very close. Maybe he doesn’t want to rip Kelly’s head off the same way Andy Irons once did BUT he does know how to keep Kelly out of his own.

Maybe we wait to crown Owen until he closes at the end of the year. Maybe we wait until he gets his second tour win. Maybe we wait until he jumps Kelly in the ratings BUT…it’s clear that there’s at least one guy who’s not afraid of Kelly. It’s clear that there’s at least one guy who is willing to stare down Kelly in the dying seconds of a final and not blink and it’s clear that it’s going to take that kind of guy to “put Kelly out to pasture”.

-Trav

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Posted September 12, 2011 by travstradewinds in Uncategorized

no. 11 on the horizon   Leave a comment

Remember that theory everyone had about one ten time world champion becoming disinterested and disenchanted with the world tour and his competitive legacy? Well that went right out the window within the last month. That notion can’t hold true when you consider that he bulldozed through ninety-six plus guys (most of whom weren’t even on the world tour). We’re talking scrapping qualifiers, dynamic free surfers, heavily totted amateurs, and even a few legends…and Kelly carved them all up. Poor Yadin Nichols discovered what nearly every one of his former opponents has discovered in that final on the south side of the Huntington Beach Pier. Get to work early and keep Kelly off good scoring waves and hope he doesn’t scrap out scores in decent looking waves. Yeah…I don’t think that strategy took.

Going into Tahiti, despite Parko holding on to a slim lead above Jordy, he needed to scratch a result. I was calling quarters and he’s absolutely capable of that. Instead, he floundered in round one and his fate was sealed when he couldn’t find an exit from a frothy tube that most would have scored an eleven. Good for Jordy, right? Well, not really. You couldn’t have created a more perfect storm literally or figuratively for Kelly because no more than twenty-four hours after assuming the number one position Jordy lost. Ditto for Taj, Mick, and Adriano. Even though Kelly was sitting in sixth, the other five guys ahead of him were dropping like flies and easing his path to the final against an in form Owen Wright. Credit where it’s due because there’s not many guys in the world who could shred two foot Brazil and then come out and man handle eight to ten foot Tahiti. The final proved to be a great shoot out but the end it was Kelly’s ability to get deeper on his backhand that got him the win. Even though his lead is slim, he still finds himself in a very familiar place…number one.

It’s no secret that to some extent there’s a fair bit of resentment for Jimmy Slade on tour. When is the guy going to hand his skates up? Will he retire this year? Judging by a quote in his post tenth world title interview, he’s not going away anytime soon. Not until someone starts “putting him out to pasture”. Well the last guy with that capability suffered a life altering mental and physical meltdown a year ago (RIP). Don’t get me wrong. I was banging the retirement drum post no. 10 just like everyone else in the hopes of more parity and intrigue on tour. However, when he’s constantly evolving his game to match and often times exceed the level of performance of the best surfers in the world then this isn’t a guy we should be going in on. This is a guy we should be celebrating.

 

-Trav

Posted September 12, 2011 by travstradewinds in Uncategorized