Kai has been on the tour since 2007 and was actually Rookie of the Year in his first year but the results have not come easy. Over the past 12 months things has come together for the goofy footer, a new sponsorship with Reef and a new quiver of Al Merrick's under his feet. There have been a lot of close heats over the past 12 months too, very frustrating for Kai but last night in Portugal that was all forgotten when he held the trophy above his head and was drenched in champagne.
“It’s the weirdest feeling ever, I just can’t comprehend it,” an ecstatic Otton said. “I really want to dedicate it to my Granddad, he passed away the year I qualified and never saw me on tour so this is for him. It seems like this event was a little bit of a grind, every heat the tide changed so dramatically you never really knew what was going to happen!”
Kai had forced the 2013 World Tilte race to hawaii when he kncoked out ratings laeader Mick Fanning in the quater finals. The World Title could have been warpped up at the Rip Curl Pro but Kai's win and Mick's loss meant that for the second year running it's going to be a two horse race at Pipe with between kelly Slater , who is going for his 12th and Mick Fanning as ratings leader going for his 3rd. A nail biting finish is guaranteed.
The Billabong Pipeline Masters is final stop on the 2013 ASP World Championship Tour, Mick Fanning and Kelly Slater remain in contention for the World Title. Following Fanning’s fifth place in Portugal, Slater must win the Pipe Masters to surpass Fanning for the ASP World Title. If Slater is to win the event, Fanning must place 3rd or better to claim the title for himself.
Kai, who now sits at No. 7 on the ASP WCT rankings following the victory, has been one of the most consistent surfers in 2013 and his road to victory in Portugal saw the Australian take on the world’s best surfers. The goofy-footer was unstoppable on the final day of competition, defeating Hawaiian prodigy John John Florence two-time ASP World Champion and current rankings leader Mick Fanning and reigning ASP World Champion Joel Parkinson en route to the final.
“One of the things that has changed for me this year is my girlfriend being pregnant, I’m pretty excited about that,” siad Kai after the win. “It’s unbelievable, it’s the next chapter I’m really looking forward to. It’s amazing to have all of the support, all my home town of Tathra, my Mom and Dad who supported me all of my career. To get here is kind of a pinnacle for me.”
The win has been a long time coming but it is fully deserved.
|Kai pulling in at Teahupoo earlier this year. photo: joliphotos.com