Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

Old Warhorse Is Back in Mix; Slater Back in Form on WSL Tour

Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

Old Warhorse Is Back in Mix; Slater Back in Form on WSL Tour

Article excerpt

SURF SCENE

ANDREW McKINNON

IT'S BEEN a long time between drinks for Kelly Slater to win a world tour event and that's pretty funny considering Slater seldom drinks alcohol. But all jokes set aside, it's been a couple of years since Kelly was on the winning dais. In fact it was back at the end of 2013 when he won the Pipeline Masters from, strangely enough, world title aspirant Hawaii's John Florence.

Slater's four 10-point rides en route to the final set up the winning momentum. At 44 years, he is the undisputed King of Teahupo'o, notching up his fifth title to deny John Florence again. The young Hawaiian wanted to even up the score and get one back on Kelly but the 11-time world champion was on a date with destiny and unbeatable.

After the semis, Slater was awarded for the first time the AI (Andy Iron) Teahupo'o trophy for fearless charging at Chopes with a certain touch of irony attached.

Back when Slater and Irons were the two main world title combatants from 2002 to 2004, during Andy's three-year world title reign, their rivalry sparked a whole new excitement in professional surfing. On receiving the prestigious award Kelly quipped, "Andy would be equally mad and stoked that I won this and would have equally hated this going to me as much as he would have been happy for me."

The last time Slater surfed against Irons was at Teahupo'o 2010 where Irons got the better of the exchange in the semis and went on to win his last world championship tour. A month later he was tragically found dead in a hotel room that shocked the surfing world. There have been some great rivalries in surfing: Australia's first world champions Midget Farrelly and Nat Young were never able to resolve their differences, which was kind of sad. Whereas the Irons/Slater rivalry was settled once Kelly got Andy's measure from 2005 onwards. …

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