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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Kai Otton Wins the Rip Curl Pro Portugal | Title Race Still On For Kelly Slater and Mick Fanning

By Andrew Sachs
Kai Otton outlasted Nat Young today in less-than-stellar waves at the Rip Curl Pro Portugal.  But the biggest news from the contest is that because Kai knocked off Mick Fanning in the quarterfinals, Mick didn't clinch the world title.  Instead, the title fight will be decided at Pipe, the 10th and final event of the season, where Kelly Slater still has a shot at claiming the crown for the 12th time.  He's up against it though; anything less than a win by Kelly and Mick will grab his 3rd world title.  And even if Kelly wins, Mick takes homes the title if he reaches the semifinals.  Unfortunately, the drama won't unfold for another 2 months, when the Billabong Pipe Masters fires on December 8.

Second biggest news of the contest was definitely Julian Wilson's huge alley-oop that he pulled off in the 3rd round against Damien Hobgood, a perfect 10 that is at the top of the list of best aerial maneuvers of the WCT season.  The obvious comparison was to John John's similarly huge alley-oop in Bali, and you can watch side-by-side footage of each and decide which was bigger or better.  For myself, I don't need to split hairs, they were both freaking awesome.  Check out the video of Julian, below.

After Kai knocked off Mick in the quarters, all the world title talk quieted down and the focus moved to the actual contest, with Joel Parkinson and Kai matched up in one semifinal and Nat Young and Josh Kerr in the other.  Kai and Nat both won their semifinals with point totals in the 14s, giving you a clue that the waves weren't in top form as the contest reach the last rounds.  It didn't get any better in the final, where Kai's 12.23 was enough to stave off Nat Young.  With his performance, Kai moved up to 7th overall in the standings, and with his 2nd finals appearance of the season, Nat Young secured his spot as rookie of the year.

WCT Standings after 9 Events:
  1. Mick Fanning, 53100
  2. Kelly Slater, 45900
  3. Joel Parkinson, 43700
  4. Jordy Smith, 43150
  5. Taj Burrow, 42900