Australia’s Mick Fanning and Kelly Slater have kept their world surfing title hopes alive after comfortably advancing to round four of the season-ending Pipe Masters in Hawaii.
Australia’s championship leader Fanning dominated his opening heat against local Kaimana Jaquias in pumping two metre surf on Tuesday, outscoring him 15.63 to 6.27.
His only title rival Slater, who needs to win the event to overtake Fanning and clinch his 12th crown, was a force to be reckoned with in his heat – posting a 17.66 to Australia’s Mitch Crews’ 3.30.
The 23-year-old Crews had the chance to win the championship for his countryman by beating the American superstar in the sudden-death round three match-up.
Slater said he had been relaxed all week – up until his clash with Crews.
“About an hour before my heat I got really nervous,” he said.
“But I was able to settle down and when I got out there, you get comfortable, you know your line-ups.
“You’re just playing the odds a little bit and you start forgetting about any of the nerves.”
Fanning just needs to reach the semi-finals to claim his third world title, even if Slater wins.