Adrian “Ace” Buchan couldn’t have scripted it any better himself. To not only make his first ASP World final, but to go on and beat Kelly Slater when all signs pointed toward Kelly walking through the heat on his way to sealing his 9th world championship is something that will stay with the up and coming Aussie surfer for the rest of his life.
He wasn’t supposed to win that heat, Kelly winning #9 at the Quiksilver event was supposed to be the springboard for the chase to #10. Someone forgot to mention that to Ace. “I can’t believe it, to have Kelly in the final and to beat him, I am speechless,” Buchan said. “He is my hero. I have watched him win five events this year – he has just been phenomenal. He sets the bar so high for all of us guys, I am really thankful that surfing has got such a great custodian.”
To but it mildly, Ace Buchan has balls of steel. Before the ‘08 Quiksilver Pro France, Buchan had yet to advance beyond the quarterfinal round in his career on the WCT. On his way to his victory in Hossegor, Ace took down a streaking Dane Reynolds in the quarters, handled a resurgent Damien Hobgood in the semi’s, and then temporarily kept Slater from officially regaining his throne that sits atop the surfing world. “I tried not to think about it paddling out for the final,” Buchan said. “I had visions of him winning the title but I just tried to focus on myself and what I had to do out there – get two really good waves. Luckily Kelly did not get that one at the end.”
Kelly is now relegated to waiting until the upcoming Billabong Pro Mundaka to seal the deal on 9 and render the rest of the year on tour, as far as world championship races go, completely meaningless. As the closing minutes ticked away toward the end of the 35 minute heat in what becoming sloggy beach-break, it looked like Slater was getting ready to post another come from behind victory. It’s been a year full of them for Kelly, but it just wouldn’t happen for him today and left him with visions of adding an extra five minutes onto the back end of the heat with Buchan.
“It’s cool that it came down to a wave in the end, at least it made it interesting,” Slater said. “Truth is though, Ace was more in sync with it. He got those open face ones and did the turns. I had one wave I surfed pretty good on that I knew was going to get me back in it. Then I just needed a chance in the end but there wasn’t quite enough time – I should have pushed for a 40-minute final.” Needing just a mid-range score to pull of the comeback, Kelly scrambled for one last wave in the closing moments of the heat. However it just wasn’t to be. “Maybe if there would have been a punt section where I could have done a big air I could have possibly gotten the score, but I knew that score wasn’t going to be close. It’s frustrating though, to be so close – literally one score away from winning the title. I guess at this point I’m two heat wins from winning the title.”
All Kelly needs to do is finish 9th or better at Mundaka and the circus begins for his march to a 10th world championship. And while #9 for Slater is inevitable at this point, #1, as far as tour victories go, is nothing but sweet for the man they call Ace.
Final Quiksilver Pro France Results:
Adrian Buchan (AUS) 15.74 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 15.16
Semifinal Quiksilver Pro France Results:
Heat 1: Kelly Slater (USA) 14.90 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.97
Heat 2: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 15.17 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 8.83
Quarterfinal Quiksilver Pro France Results:
Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 14.93 def. Bobby Martinez (USA) 12.40
Heat 2: Kelly Slater (USA) 17.50 def. Mick Campbell (AUS) 12.33
Heat 3: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 17.00 def. Dane Reynolds (USA) 13.34
Heat 4: Damien Hobgood (USA) 13.34 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 13.00
Round 4 Quiksilver Pro France Results:
Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 9.50 def. Dayyan Neve (AUS) 9.33
Heat 2: Bobby Martinez (USA) 14.66 def. Ben Dunn (AUS) 12.00
Heat 3: Mick Campbell (AUS) 14.00 def. Luke Stedman (AUS) 11.17
Heat 4: Kelly Slater (USA) 18.27 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 14.77
Heat 5: Dane Reynolds (USA) 16.50 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 10.33
Heat 6: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 14.50 def. Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA) 10.66
Heat 7: Michel Bourez (PYF) 13.50 def. Kieren Perrow (AUS) 11.57
Heat 8: Damien Hobgood (USA) 8.67 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 8.50
Posted by Shaun on Wednesday, September 24th, 2008 in Surfing.