The Margaret River Pro was taken out by the Spartan, Michel Bourez the king of Tahiti. Oddly one who has never ruled the tour at Teahupoo, but give this man a wall and he'll carve open the pocket with unmatched venom. If you missed out then head on over to the heat analyser.
But it almost wasn't to be. Needing a score in the semis and seemingly down and out, Bourez was handed a lifeline by Kelly Slater after the 11x champ made an uncharacteristic rookie error on wave priority. Michel took his opportunity and moved into the final where he out-thought Kerr to take a much deserved win on the day we finally saw decent waves on the peak at Margaret River.
“It’s such a good feeling to win, it’s a dream come true. Making the final here and surfing against such an amazing person (Josh Kerr) was wonderful,” said Michel Bourez. “It was such a tough heat out there because you don’t know what to expect from Kerr. The semifinal was like a final. Surfing against Kelly Slater was a tough one so I had to really push my level up. That 9.37 I got came out of nowhere. Kelly’s still the greatest surfer ever so to beat him was wonderful. It’s a long year and there are still nine contests to go so I need to focus on the next one and relax. I can’t wait for Bells (Beach) now, I have always liked that wave.”
So what does a Kerr and Bourez final mean?
The world title race has never been so open.
With two rounds down and another nine to go Medina leads the pack. Surfing his heels the top 10 is both familiar and unfamiliar. A couple of multimillion paycheques have failed to spark this year making space for new blood and heck, some quite old shoulders.
The swell gods will not show up properly in Australia
Bells will be another medium sized wave event after a bigish weekend. A quick scan at the forecast shows good waves for the first weekend of the holding period and another system lined up, but the angles aren't quite there. And despite getting the best swell of all three comps Bells needs to be all time for the pulse to really quicken. Like the Box and Margs, everyone will wonder from time to time why they don't run the event at the more shapely break just next door at Winkipop. The funny thing about the first three events of the 2014 World Tour is that if you just saw these three events in isolation you would assume Australia only has average waves.
The only pattern is there is no pattern
In a set synoptic pattern it is likely for the weather to look tomorrow as it does today. And Bells could end up looking a lot like Margs. So will Bourez win again? Probably not. And this isn't because Kelly, Parko and Mick will step up but rather because the field is incredibly evenly matched and a well chosen wave or a small failure in strategy is all that seems to be deciding the winners and the losers. In that vein 2014 is shaping up to be a tight year with no clear favourites.
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Results:
Final: Michel Bourez (PYF) 15.90 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 12.44
Semifinal 1: Josh Kerr (AUS) 15.10 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.87
Semifinal 2: Michel Bourez (PYF) 16.14 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 14.90
Quarterfinal 1: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 15.30 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.00
Quarterfinal 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 13.70 vs. Josh Kerr (AUS) 10.77
Quarterfinal 3: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.53 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.44
Quarterfinal 4: Michel Bourez (PYF) 13.00 def. Nat Young (USA) 9.76
*All images and video courtesy of the ASP