Who will be this year’s ASP world champion is currently being decided at the Pipe Masters 2013 in Hawaii. Action at the legendary Pipeline began yesterday (Monday) and the big question is who will win in the Slater vs Fanning “category”.
11-time world champion Kelly Slater is the one under the most pressure to win. Not only must he be victorious at Pipeline, but rival Australian Mick Fanning has to also miss the semi-finals in order for Slater to claim his 12th crown. Regarding the Slater vs Fanning rivalry in Hawaii, the “best competitive surfer of all time” is pretty matter-of-fact.
From the Guardian:
This situation is pretty black and white for me. I think if Mick were not to get past the quarters and I was, then the pressure is very clearly on my shoulders. Until that time, I don’t feel like it’s a very stressful situation, but at that time, it could be the most stressful situation of my life.
A bit of added pressure for the 41-year old American great is the looming spectre of retirement – from the ASP World Tour, anyway. Slater has recently alluded to Hawaii being his last competition on the tour should he fail to capture gold for 2013.
From Surfer Today:
I would be real comfortable to retire if I won this contest. If I won this contest and I won the title together. That would be really the pinnacle of my career. I am not going to say it’s not fun anymore, but if it’s going to be harder or impossible to beat a certain experience then maybe let go for other ones. That would be the dream result for me.
Curiously enough, although the American and the Australian have been surfing against each other for 10 years, they’ve never directly competed at Pipeline. Though Mick Fanning heads into the event with a considerable lead, Slater has a strong track record for come-from-behind wins at Pipeline.
For a great summary of the Slater vs Fanning matchup, check out this article on ESPN Go’s X-Games site.