Kelly Slater won today with a mix of trademark talent and a big helping of psychological warfare. It started yesterday evening in the fading light. His opponent in round two, Jay Davies, was out freesurfing at Cloudbreak and about to stroke into a perfectly shaped wave. Suddenly, out of nowhere, someone yelled, “Hey! I’m going right.” It was KS. Whether a genuine right was on offer or not, Cloudbreak is unquestionably a left hand reef pass. In doing so Kelly had fired the first fatal shot at Jay who, left dumbfounded, would have to let that moment burn into memory overnight.

Today he upped the ante further, stalking the lineup on his jetski for much of the morning like he owned it. As Owen Wright and Rip Curl team manager Ryan ‘Fletchy’ Fletcher debated prophecies before their heat none sounded good for the West Australian. “I think Kelly is going to go and get a 9.50 and fuck with his mind for the rest of the heat,” said Owen emphatically. He wasn’t far off the mark. On cue Kelly had swooped under a falling chandelier and needled his way through to the perilously shallow shish-kebab section of the reef to the applause of the opulent Tavarua boats planted in the channel. It was an 8.77 and would be his second highest single wave score in their heat.

It didn’t end there. He backed it up quickly with a 7.83 while Davies was swinging 3’s and 5’s. When Kelly stroked into the best wave of the event so far it was well and truly over. “He’s using that thing like a weapon!” screamed Strider Wasilewski through a muffled mic. Kelly in full cry is a beautiful thing to watch. He draws elongated bottom turns, dragging his back hand across the wave face, telegraphing himself into the pocket before grabbing his outside rail and squaring his shoulders as he steers the nose of his board to nirvana. The 9.93 projected him back into the stratosphere and he’d finally found his mojo.

Jay never found his rhythm at this event. The non-life threatening conditions failed to turn him on. He looked like a big kid in a sandpit trying to have fun. His performances don’t do justice to how talented he really is. I wouldn’t rule out seeing him do damage on the CT in the future if another opportunity comes his way.

After the heat I asked Kelly how important a good result was for him in Fiji given his recognisable dissatisfaction with the tour after so many poor results this year.

“I think especially if I hadn’t had a good heat then and lost early it would be a tough position [to be in] right now; to fight it out all year knowing you’re probably out of a title shot,” he said.

“If I won all the contests right now I’d probably only have just about the same amount of points as Medina had last year. [When he won his world title] So I’ve got my back against the wall.”

“I think this contest is significant because it really is my most favourite event and I’ve had my best results overall here. I’ve won it four times and this and Teahupoo are the waves I feel most comfortable at on tour. It would be a shot to my confidence considering it’s at a low right now anyway. [laughs] It would be nice to have a good result here.”

Mind games. Kelly is the master.

Recap: Heat Analyser

Fiji Pro Round 2 Results:

Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.50 def. Inia Nakalevu (FJI) 6.87

Heat 2: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 10.70 def. Aca Ravulo (FJI) 8.86

Heat 3: Dane Reynolds (USA) 15.00 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 14.10

Heat 4: Kelly Slater (USA) 18.70 def. Jay Davies (AUS) 9.47

Heat 5: Owen Wright (AUS) 10.10 def. Aritz Aranburu (ESP) 9.03

Upcoming Fiji Pro Round 2 Match-Ups:

Heat 6: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. C.J. Hobgood (USA)

Heat 7: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)

Heat 8: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Glenn Hall (IRL)

Heat 9: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)

Heat 10: Miguel Pupo (BRA) vs. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)

Heat 11: Jeremy Flores (AUS) vs. Ricardo Christie (NZL)

Heat 12: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Matt Banting (AUS)

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