After a nearly 2 month hiatus, the WCT is back on and the Pipe Masters, the final event of the season, is going off to determine who will be the 2013 world champ. It's shaped out to be a battle between Mick Fanning and Kelly Slater, but the odds are stacked up against Kelly. Anything less than a win by Kelly, and Mick claims his third crown (along with '09 and '07). And, even if Kelly wins, if Mick reaches the semifinals, he's still the champ. Like I said, tough odds, but if anyone is up to the challenge to pull victory from defeat, it's Kelly.
The first paddle out of the contest was on Sunday, December 8 with the preliminary rounds in some really great North Shore conditions, about 6 to 8 foot (non-Hawaiian) barreling waves. The contest was able to get in Rounds 1 and 2 on Sunday - check out the highlights. Gabriel Medina had the highest scoring round of the day - 18.67 - Monday was a lay day and the next call for the contest will be this Tuesday morning. Next up is Round 3, where we'll see Mick and Kelly in action for the first time, Mick against a potentially dangerous Hawaiian wildcard, Kaimana Jaquias, and Kelly vs. Aussie rookie Mitch Crews. *UPDATE* Mick placed third in his 3-man 4th round heat and has to beat CJ Hobgood in the 5th round to make the quarters. Meanwhile, Kelly had the highest score in round 4, and is sitting in the quarterfinals already.
Check back for updates on the contest as it progresses. It could come down to the wire between Mick and Kelly, and the later the rounds get, the higher the pressure will be on both those guys to perform at the high level that is required to be world champion. That said, Kelly suggested that if he wins, he could retire: "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."