Margaret River Pro: Day 3

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By Steve Shearer (freeride76)
Photo: Aaron Hughes

Margaret River Pro: Day 3

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)
Form Guide

Everything seemed to be setting up for another dream day for Kelly Slater, something even he acknowledged in his post heat presser.

Shades of '98 where the surfers in front of him - in this case Danny Wills and Mick Campbell - folded at Pipe and Kelly was last man standing for the World Title. The last of five in a row before he bailed out for three years.

In this instance it wasn't gnarly Pipe but a glamour day at Mainbreak, as pretty as it gets at 6-8ft, and it wasn't a World Title he was fighting for but to save himself from the ignominy of being cut from the Tour. The same theme was playing out. Wildcards taking out fellow cellar dwellers helped his cause.

Local plumber Jerome Forrest took out Carlos Munoz. Jarvis Earle dispatched Michael Rodriguez. Reef Heazlewood eliminated Rio Waida.

Michael Rodriguez (photo: Cait Miers)

The competition below him all folded: Zeke went down to Connor O'Leary, Maxime was eliminated by Gabe Medina. In the logjam just above him the competitors dropped like dying flies in the window frame.

Sammy Pupo, gone.

Gentil, retired hurt.

Jacko Baker, cut down like an old dead tree by his best mate Callum Robson.

Nat Young, had a shocker and was easily handled by Yago Dora.

It was starting to feel like one of those crazy Slater days of yore, with a magical rail run from deep in the pack beckoning.

The path was being cleared by the cosmic forces which over the course of three decades have seemed to propel Kelly to greatness. The last minute rides that seem to appear from nowhere.

And the guy he was facing, Liam O'Brien, was a Margaret River rookie just a single spot above him on the rankings. A guy who would have been calculating that if he lost this heat it was back to grinding it out on the CS. Kelly would have been salivating.

By the time they got there - Heat 10 of sixteen overlapping heats - the offshore wind had died down. It was about as rippable and user-friendly as Mainbreak gets.

Kelly was chatty, he hovered around LOB before nabbing the first wave in the non-priority heat. LOB rode the wave behind. A strong Kelly wave with a big first lip hit for a 6.17. A point better than Liam's 5.17.

Liam O'Brien (photo: Cait Miers)

The wave-riding was insane but the jockeying and feinting decided the heat. LOB, feinted Kelly into the next wave, a dud for a two point ride.

With Kelly out of rhythm Liam smashed his two highest scoring rides of the heat on bowly mid-sizers. What LOB delivered was pinnacle style modern surfing - no weirdness, no bobbles, three huge turns per wave, each delivered like axe blows.

The contrast with Kelly's response was stark, reflecting differing eras. Kelly went harder on the bottom turn and pushed vertical lip hits and foam climbs beyond vertical, but without the killer power. He greased through long roundhouse cutties with huge rebounds. Carving three-o attempts. It was different, classic Kelly. But not in the same league.

Then it was Kelly's time to feint. LOB gave him a wave he thought was a dud and Kelly opened up with the big power snap to start and a weird recovery tail free close-outs turn that judges paid with a 7.83.

Kelly Slater (photo: Cait Miers)

Minute and thirty – Kelly needs a 7.70. He's gunna get it, I thought. LOB had given him priority by catching a crappy wave, an overcompensation for the previous error.

Fifty seconds, Kelly gets his wave. Again, the past vertical hit/climb and a weird recovery. A million times I'd seen judges fall for the drama and the recuperation. Not this time. The 5.77 was well short.

The presser would have to be priceless, surely. By concealing almost everything, Kelly revealed his hand. Attempting to play dumb about the Surf Ranch, he admitted he “knew a guy”. There was not a single concession granted to retirement. Not a word. It was as classic a piece of Kelly Slater gamesmanship as we've ever seen, despite his name being on the screen with the words Did Not Make the Cut below them. Kelly will continue to create his own reality on this Tour for as long as he damn well wants.

Kelly Slater (photo: Aaron Hughes)

Not so his fellow Cut-tees. All of them will be relegated.

It was shocking and a testament to the idea of the Cut itself how little resistance was offered by those below or on the line.

Only Barron Mamiya from below the line was able to rescue himself with a big three turn combo against Caio Ibelli.

Jackson Baker's turn timing has been impeccable. With a heat winning wave in the offing against Callum Robson it deserted him and he flubbed the two turns badly arriving way too late to the lip.

Kolohe, a dual Finalist here, unfortunately for him both times to John Florence looked impotent against Ryan Callinan. Back to Snapper.

Callum Robson (photo: Cait Miers)

The problem for fans now - post Cut - is twofold.

One, Surf Ranch even by Kelly Slater's estimation is boring and two, all the mid rangers who have solidified their jobs for a year go into cruise control. Jordy Smith being Exhibit A. In a classic piece of dry Saffa humour when told he had made the Cut, Jordy deadpanned “Means I can surf Surf Ranch - pretty frothing, nah.” Don't worry Jordy, Kelly will be happy to take your place.

There'd been some confusion all day from judges about how to score backhand surfing, which caused Ronnie Blakey to grumble about the scores being given to too-late pedestrian backhand hits. Windshield wiper 12 o'clock hits delivered with slightly off timing were paid if delivered with risk (see Reef Heazlewood's three-banger against Kanoa and Rio) whilst Yago Dora's nine-pointer against Nat Young seemed extravangantly scored.

Reef Heazlewood (photo: Aaron Hughes)

Figuring out how they will parse these backside rides will become pressing with five goofies left in the draw.

For mine it was Italo one, Gabe two just for the sheer size of the turns. That won't be a popular opinion. Italo split the audience further by wasting a whole wave to launch a giant full rotation air on the end section. His first attempt failed, the second landed on an unbelievably treacherous set of rapids. He followed that with the two best backhand turns of the day.

The Box had been pumping all day. Yellow jersey holder Chianca referenced it in his presser, making a suggestion that perhaps the World's best should have been across the Bay.

Florence returned from his Box sojourn to close out the Men's action easily accounting for a game Jake Marshall with six huge turns on two waves.

Four Women's heats were hard to see in the afternoon glare but were taken out by Pickles, Bronte Macaulay, Carissa Moore and Lakey Peterson surfing for her spot on Tour.

Lakey Peterson (photo: Cait Miers)

Those cut today: Zeke Lau, Carlos Munoz, Kolohe Andino, Jake Marshall, Maxime Huscenot, Michael Rodrigues, Nat Young, Jackson Baker, Sammy Pupo, and Kelly Slater (provisionally).

With the glamour day behind us, the forecast gets trickier as the Southern Ocean throws a temper tantrum. 

My pick: Italo Ferreira.



SingleFin95's picture
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SingleFin95 Saturday, 22 Apr 2023 at 9:45pm

Southern Ocean?

You mean Indian?

thermalben's picture
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thermalben Saturday, 22 Apr 2023 at 9:56pm

Technically you're correct - according to the International Hydrographic Organization, the Indian Ocean extends east to Tasmanian longitudes, whilst the Southern Ocean encircles Antarctica up to 60°S - however Australia's official interpretation has Cape Leeuwin "as the point where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet".

So if you want to get technical, it'll depend on the alignment of the approaching frontal system.

For homework, please read chapters three thru' eight. We'll have a test on Monday.

southernraw's picture
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southernraw Saturday, 22 Apr 2023 at 10:10pm

Haha. Exactly!! Today was Indian Ocean. But tomorrow is bog standard Southern.

thermalben's picture
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thermalben Saturday, 22 Apr 2023 at 10:15pm

Indian takes the credit, Southern takes the rap?

southernraw's picture
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southernraw Saturday, 22 Apr 2023 at 10:19pm

hahaha. Definitely when it comes to the Margs reefs.
Margs definitely doesn't get SE swells though ;-)

billie's picture
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billie Sunday, 23 Apr 2023 at 7:15am


radiationrules's picture
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radiationrules Sunday, 23 Apr 2023 at 10:57am

I'm fairly certain the Southern Ocean meets The Indian Ocean where the lighthouse is at Cape Naturalist; near Dunsborough, the northern end of the cape. If true, it means MR Main Break is geographically within the Southern Ocean.

campbell's picture
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campbell Sunday, 23 Apr 2023 at 11:23am

Other end of the capes, Augusta, Cape Leeuwin "where two oceans meet"
so not in the southern ocean

thermalben's picture
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thermalben Sunday, 23 Apr 2023 at 11:26am

Just to put back into context, I think the use of 'Southern Ocean' is more apt, as per Steve's usage. ".... as the Indian Ocean throws a temper tantrum" just doesn't resonate quite as well.

basesix's picture
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basesix Sunday, 23 Apr 2023 at 11:41am

I agree, doesn't sound as unfettered and wooly. 'Southern' also has a nice antipodean romance. (Have read chapters 3 - 6 btw.. getting there.. )

southernraw's picture
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southernraw Saturday, 22 Apr 2023 at 9:51pm

Nice work FR. Thats as fine as a fine tooth comb i've seen brushed over a day's competition.
Bummer for Slats but he sure had a crack.
Just on LOB. He was on fire at Bells. I watched him closely cos i reckon he's actually Australia's next great surfer....even more so than Jack and EE. He was pulling 8s out easily at Bells but then faced Colapinto.....and melted. Couldn't get a score above a 5 or 6. It was clear the pressure of facing a big name opponent got to him, after a relatively easy run against mid placers.
Come Margs and facing Kelly in a 'whole world watching' scenario, i was interested to see how he'd back up that encounter with Griff.
Well...i reckon the bigger story was how good LOB was surfing compared to Slat's exit after that.
All good. Slater will (hopefully) get the wildcard to see out the year.
I think he's earnt it and no complaints from me if he gets it. And if he doesn't, so be it. Life goes on.
As if the tour is fair anyway with them having a final 5 finishing at fuggen trestles. There's zero lefts on tour that equate to Margs, Bells, JBay, Sunset or that place in South America.
When nobody knows if Gabby and Italo can actually do a full blooded full rail frontside carve, then you know you have a problem.
Great work FR. Thanks for keeping us all frothed up on it all.

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RockyIsland Saturday, 22 Apr 2023 at 10:31pm

Call me old fashioned but I reckon Kelly's roundhouse on his 4 something was underscored and his beyond vertical Lip Climb floater yesterday was one of the turns of the Comp so far but judges don't score those highly. Variety isn't paid enough even though its in the criteria.
Its all Blow Fins and Down Carves now and Barrel Dodging for an Air Reverse.
Started to get really over backhand surfing its looking all the same.
3 turns off the lip.
Fair enough some hit the lip at 1.00 o'clock and some at 11.00 am but to the casual observer looks the same.
Nothing compares to Wayne Lynch in Litmus with the subtle 2 rail rolls to allow himself to get even more vertical and stall for a cover up on the way down.
(showing my age here.)
Something about LOB surfing stands out love his crisp rail changes without an up and down bob motion.
I often wonder about the degree of difficulty between all these manoeuvres and judged that way as in Diving.
Which is harder an Air Reverse or a Roof Top Floater?
An up side down Foam Rebound after a carving roundhouse or a Down Carve?
A Deep Tube or a Straight Air?
A Blow Fin or a Wrap ?
Surely working with gravity is easier than forcing going against it ?
Mind you this is all coming from a Meat and Potatoes (Reo, and Cuttie) crusty old fella surfer so what would I know.
Great write ups FR have to keep checking excitedly to see when they are up.
Go Ethan and LOB.

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southernraw Saturday, 22 Apr 2023 at 10:43pm

Brilliant post RockyIsland.

More tubes please's picture
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More tubes please Saturday, 22 Apr 2023 at 10:59pm

I just can’t work out why Kelly still wants to be on tour. He’s got nothing left to prove, won everything and conquered all before him. The only waves on tour I bet he would actually look forward to are Pipe, J bay and Tahiti. The rest of the stops are B grade waves at best.

He can spend the year chasing swells in Fiji, Indo, Hawaii, Mex and wherever else tickles his fancy, show up, have the red carpet rolled out and take his pick of set waves. Why bother with bells, margs, Brazil, El Salvador etc.?

If he does accept the wildcard for the rest of the year, he’s damaging his reputation and his legacy, as there are far more deserving recipients, like Ramzi and Miguel Pupo.

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stanfrance Saturday, 22 Apr 2023 at 11:53pm

No offence, but I am guessing Kelly doesn’t really care what you think…

More tubes please's picture
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More tubes please Sunday, 23 Apr 2023 at 9:47am

Of course he doesn’t, I’m just a pleb.

Still, if I was him, I’d be chasing waves, not points.

indo-dreaming's picture
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indo-dreaming Sunday, 23 Apr 2023 at 9:30am

I think its just a variety of things surfing waves that are generally crowded with 1 to max 3 others.

The competitive beast in him and pushing his 50+ year old body against the worlds best.

To a degree the attention, but also possible the social aspect and seeing old friends in these locations around the world.

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zenagain Saturday, 22 Apr 2023 at 11:28pm

Only got to watch about 10 mins total spread across 8 hours today, so again, awesome re-cap helping to fill in the blanks. Did manage a bit of Kellys heat and post interview. I reckon Kelly was surfing really well- some of those gouges, especially yesterday and that crazy beyond vert foam thingy, sick.

I knew LOB was gonna make his mark sooner or later. Noticed on that Sth. Straddie contest middle of corona. Great surfer. But how's the rest of the Aussies atm! Not long ago people were saying the Aussies were finished. We're slaying it now I reckon.

These contest write ups are the best out there.

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juegasiempre Sunday, 23 Apr 2023 at 2:40am

Interesting that people are against the cut. If you look at the list they're all just surfers that make up the numbers. None of them have a realistic chance of winning. Could probably cut more tbh and run less heats in better conditions.

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goofyfoot Sunday, 23 Apr 2023 at 6:01am

I was thinking the same re the cut.
At the start of the year if you asked me who would be cut I probably would of named all those guys.

Solitude's picture
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Solitude Sunday, 23 Apr 2023 at 7:46am

You guys have a point.

Only issue I have now is those in the middle of the pack have zero consequence for mediocrity. They are sweet until Margies next year. So could actually lose every heat from now until September and nothing changes.

Conversely you could win every single heat from now until teahupoo and still not be a world champion.

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RealityTV Sunday, 23 Apr 2023 at 9:45am

I think a significant cut (number of surfers turned over) is good, I just think having it so early in the year actually reduces the points of interest in the whole thing. Sure it makes Marg's more consequential, but after that there are less storylines. Only the final 5, which in reality most of the field are not in contention for. You lose the ability to support your home town hero/heroine, or somebody who's surfing you like. Will the old veteran rediscover some gold and requalify? Will the new rookie find their rhythm in the back half of the year and go to the next level?
I reckon there should be a sizable cut at the end of the year, with no double qualifying on the CS. You make the tour, you're on for the year. Fail to make the cut, you're relegated to the CS for the next year. Give some certainly to the up and comers. If you're in the top whatever number on the CS you'll be on the tour for a year the following season to have a full crack at it.

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simba Sunday, 23 Apr 2023 at 8:56am

exactly......forget the cut and just run a smaller field of surfers to begin with.....way more opportunity to score the best conditions......

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eat-your-vegies Sunday, 23 Apr 2023 at 6:27am

When I watched slaters interview and he made the point that he was looking over at the box , I feel he was making the point that he’d just lost his spot on tour cos he had to surf margs crud when the box was fireing all day.
I kinda agree.
I know that they are pro surfers and surf what they are given but the box is right there.

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poo-man Sunday, 23 Apr 2023 at 7:25am

Yep its hard to imagine that KS wouldn't have got deeply barrelled at the box and results could have been quite different. I don't like the cut at all. It's only 5 events into the year and seems like trying to manufacture drama. Some guys get a rough start and are gone. And others sneak through like Jake Marshall and Chianca last year missing it then being too this year. There's so much that's unfair about it.

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3vickers Sunday, 23 Apr 2023 at 7:53am

great write up steve- totally agree with everything you wrote - top day of surfing

…with the layoF surfing his own heat thing, could they not have just brought the other heats forward??? or is there a minimum notice period??

garry-weed's picture
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garry-weed Sunday, 23 Apr 2023 at 7:54am

Sophie got stitched.

Solitude's picture
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Solitude Sunday, 23 Apr 2023 at 8:03am

Just re watched the Kelly / Liam replay. It was nice to see that they had a hell of a lot of opportunity.
I feel if Kelly had have chose different lines to the super vertical foam climb he had it there to win.
A really inspired performance though, still surfing amazingly. Wonder how he’s feeling?
Also, how good is Liam going? Big threat.

billie's picture
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billie Sunday, 23 Apr 2023 at 8:15am

How cool was the way Liam O’Brian compressed his lank through the turns?!?! It made them so radical and cool. He was absolutely on fire.

Dazza27's picture
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Dazza27 Sunday, 23 Apr 2023 at 8:32am

Cut should be anyone who mathematically can’t make the top five by the end of the season. Every comp after that would be of consequence

damota's picture
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damota Tuesday, 25 Apr 2023 at 12:18am

If there's gonna be a cut then this is the method

Standingleft's picture
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Standingleft Sunday, 23 Apr 2023 at 9:21am

After all the rookies he stomped mercilessly over the years ultimately it's Lobby the GOAT Slayer who finally puts him to the sword.
Well played Kelly Slater you are the greatest competitive surfer we've ever known no doubt.
Odds of KS going on a Nick Nolte style bender ending with a mug shot?

Who am I going to hang shit on now?

indo-dreaming's picture
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indo-dreaming Sunday, 23 Apr 2023 at 9:36am

Kind of sad knowing in a way this is kinda it for Kelly, its been such a ride though and while others are surfing better these days, some of those turns in the heat like that roundhouse rebound rio were highlight's of the day, he got beaten but he went out in style, he sure didnt look like a 50+ year old.

Standingleft's picture
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Standingleft Sunday, 23 Apr 2023 at 9:46am

Due to his prodigious longevity Mr Kelly Slater GOAT extraordinaire could be the star of some entertaining and popular Heritage round heats. Get one back on The Greatest - they'd be lining up, might even outbid each other for the honour

Dukowski's picture
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Dukowski Sunday, 23 Apr 2023 at 11:06am

Leo the Dark horse, gone to another level and has Adriano coaching.

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truebluebasher Sunday, 23 Apr 2023 at 12:28pm

Tough gig Steve...did well to keep us hangin'...lusting for more!

Kelly's Tour Diary should tie up some loose ends...we'll stick with the Plot
Jan-March 2023 Northern Lights 1/2/3
(Oz Leg)
27 March Palmy Reef Pad Base > Talle Session!
Stop 4 Bells > WSL Urbnsurf Pit Stop (Checks lights) > Palmy Reef Pad Base
Stop 5 Eclipsed by WA Bommie

Novembdiales...[111111] Period of Enlightenment!

WSL Bible ~ Page 18 / Verse 1.12 (i) Wildcards (After the mid season cut)
WSL in sole discretion may elect single Wild Card to compete 2nd half CT for Rankings.
Note : Only if Surfer is a former World Champ or Top 5. (No CT kooks allowed!)
(Soon find out if that's to accommodate The Cash GOAT or The Honey Pot!)

MSM : Lock in Wonka Wild Cards to slot Kelly into the Fab 5 for the Weet Bix Bowl?

MSM : This one locks in Wild Card CT Points + CS Points for Olympic Qualifying?

Can mock up yer own Headline...
Kelly Returns to Palmy Reef Pad base to slot into Goldie Pro...
6-13 May Gold Coast CS (2022 Promo Wildcard > Rnd 2 Loss 3rd of 4)
Pause : Article claims Kelly gets a (Goldie CS Wild Card)
Not sure just how many Wild Card Decks Kelly has...perhaps he can play the 2022 deck?
Should read relegation to Goldie CS > Wildcard to CT Events...(Joker as Wild!)

17-24 May Sydney CS (2019 QS Promo Wildcard > Rnd 2 > Rnd 3 loss 4th of 4)
12 April Kelly's $5.4m Quiky crash pad was sold from beneath him...will he slum it?

27-28 May US Ranch CT (VIP Pool Party Invite) Entry price is halving then halving again!
Oddly reduced from 3 days > 2 days ( Thinkin' Day/ Night showcase)
WSL Venue looks heaps less ugly at night...Kelly has been tweaking the lighting!
Ends up like Surf Theatre with all eyes focused upon the Sweet Spot & Athlete.

30 May-7 June El Salvador ISA Olympic Qualifier for Continental Syrian Kelly
Compete for #1 Yellow Olympic Hoop!
If fails > Qualifies as Top 50 Universality Wild Card for Red via Yellow Hoop! (Can decide!)
Like a Pollie...once invited in...each can grapple with own Nationality up until the Event!
Sure! Likely to start a Mid East war with US once he ditches Syrian Flag!

9-18 June El Salvador CT (2022 Kelly pulled out with Injury to Surf epic Bali) Rain Check?

23-30 June Brazil CT (2022 Kelly pulled out with Injury to Surf epic Bali ) Rain Check?

Kelly feels refreshed after recuperating in Big wave Bali > Fine for J Bay / Teahupoo Safari

Commentators claim Wild Card Kelly should qualify via CT at end of year!

22 Feb-3 March 2024 Puerto Rico ISA Olympic Qualifier (Last Chance!)
Margara Reef Slab + Long Comp window = A killing field with only GOAT left standing!
(Top 5 men // Highest placed Team picks Olympian // Top 50 for Universality Invite)
[factcheck] These new 'GOAT Rules' were not available in 2020

2024 Olympic Qualifying Results should read = US #3 Olympian GOAT
Impossible to pan out any other way!

Crew can read 3 things...
Kelly casually aims to pretend to care about Elo's last legs Challenger Series.
Kelly appears least bothered about his Wild VIP dream tour back-dooring into the Final.
Under No circumstances will Olympic favours be handed out to #1 Reef Slab Rider!

Not saying people of the world should forgo CT & Olympic ideal to placate our Surf Idol.
Just that it would be unsportsmanlike to not give our all in the Quest for Kelly's Holy Grail.
Or just give the GOAT his Gold Medal & save a lot of Corpses from piling up on the Reef!

truebluebasher's picture
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truebluebasher Sunday, 23 Apr 2023 at 1:12pm

Breaking News...Sally avoids Cut...Loans Kelly her worn out Wild Card!

tsunalu's picture
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tsunalu Sunday, 23 Apr 2023 at 2:47pm

Best thing Kelly could have done was miss his heat and surf the box.

Dukowski's picture
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Dukowski Sunday, 23 Apr 2023 at 5:37pm

Harvey Norman funded the WSL for another year's wildcard for Sally Fitz interest free for 24 months.

"Billionaire Harvey Norman chairman Gerry Harvey has defied political pressure to pay back an estimated $22m in jobkeeper after the retailer’s profits more than doubled during the pandemic"

Balbero's picture
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Balbero Sunday, 23 Apr 2023 at 6:04pm

Slater's response to losing the heat, 'I just want to get some barrel's'. LEDGEND.

Solitude's picture
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Solitude Monday, 24 Apr 2023 at 7:42am


Kind of an awkward interview. I don’t like Stace’s style. Too familiar and forthright. Although could tell he was kind of shitting himself, dancing around the topic here

simba's picture
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simba Monday, 24 Apr 2023 at 7:49am

i wonder if Kelly analyzers everything in his how long it took to have a shit that morning to how many times he chews his food etc........

Craig's picture
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Craig Monday, 24 Apr 2023 at 11:06am

Great recap Steve seeing as I missed all the weekend action!

Seaweed's picture
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Seaweed Monday, 24 Apr 2023 at 1:48pm

These write ups have me interested in contest surfing for the first time in ever,

mpeachy's picture
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mpeachy Monday, 24 Apr 2023 at 4:49pm

Imagine being in poor Slater's shoes where you can probably only get two or three wildcards this year, and he'll have to use one on Surf Ranch

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Johnyuleanderson Thursday, 27 Apr 2023 at 8:10pm

I think it will be a rest of season wild card / so all events except for finals day unless he some how qualifies for that

thermalben's picture
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thermalben Thursday, 27 Apr 2023 at 8:15pm