The G.O.A.T Kelly Slater has once again claimed victory at the iconic Banzai Pipeline, thirty years after his first victory at the break back in 1992.
The final saw Kelly Slater come up against local hero Seth Moniz in pumping eight to twelve-foot conditions; they both traded blows until the last minutes when the 11-time champ clenched victory with a near-perfect score of 18.77.
The exhaustion from two previous heats in demanding conditions felt palpable as both Kelly Slater and Seth Moniz wiped out on their first few rides in the Final. Ten minutes in, the 49-year-old turned the heat up with an extra-long forehand barrel at Backdoor for a 9-point ride and a commanding early lead. While the Hawaiian’s attempts remained unsuccessful, Slater continued to build momentum with a 7.17 to put Moniz in a combination situation needing two scores to challenge him for the title. Far from contempt with a 16+ total, Slater found a third gem on Backdoor to improve his backup score to an 8.17.
With two minutes on the clock and while the heat result was all but final, both surfers locked into insane back-to-back 9+ points barrels at Backdoor and had the huge crowds erupting on the beach, putting a final exciting touch to an incredible week of high-performance surfing.
The young Hawaiian embraced Kelly Slater in the break before chairing the 11 time champion up the beach in the ultimate display of sportsmanship.
When asked about his 56th victory and 8th at Pipeline “I don’t even know what to say,” said Slater. “I was out there just telling myself to be in the moment, no matter how much tension there is. Just breathe. So I was just breathing, being in the moment. I thought Seth (Moniz) broke the combo because of the crowd and I said, ‘Just stay in the moment, soak it up.’ But I just savoured this and this is the best win of my life.”
In only his third season on the CT, Moniz continued to impress with a massive result, a runner-up finish on his home turf. A favourite when it comes to big, hollow waves, the Hawaiian was lifted by the support of huge crowds on the beach at Pipeline.
“We had a special moment before our Final and it was really special sharing a Final with him out there,” said Moniz. “Honestly, I felt like I was just out there watching him surf underneath me and every time he got a wave it was an eight or nine, and I’m like, ‘Oh my god, here we go.’ I took some beatings in the heat before and I was really tired and making some big mistakes, but it was an honour to surf against him.”