Former Eden local Kai Otton has had a good week in Tahiti.
Competing in the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Billabong Pro Tahiti event, Otton nailed a perfect 10 in the heats over 11-time world champion, Kelly Slater, to advance to the quarter finals.
Held at Teahupoo Beach, Tahiti, the event was staged over five rounds before advancing to the finals.
Organisers of the event said that Otton put on a determined effort throughout the event and became a real challenge to the top competitors Mick Fanning and Slater.
They described him as consistently notching excellent scores and heat totals en route to the semi finals.
The Australian’s passionate and committed forehand tube-riding approach in the end proved no match for Slater’s semi final performance.
However, Otton produced a career-best equal third finish.
“It’s a pretty pivotal moment for me in my year,” Otton said.
Otton said that he was delighted with the result and was now looking forward to revisiting the Tahiti event in 2014.
“I think I can confidently say that this result sets me up pretty well for requalification for next year.
Otton said he was eager to again challenge the world’s best with his equal third-placed result putting him up against the likes of Slater and fellow Aussie Fanning.
“I obviously wanted to beat Kelly (Slater) there,” Otton said.
“But sometimes things don’t go your way.
“Still happy with the result though,” he said.
Despite being knocked out of the finals by Slater, the podium finish is a career highlight for Otton.
Otton vaults from 17th to 13th on the 2013 ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) rankings.
If he can continue his strong showing in the tour Otton looks set to match or beat his highest ranking of 12th in the ASP WCT ladder that he set in his rookie year of 2007.
Despite this year alone having toured through Bali, California, Rio De Janeiro and now Tahiti, Otton said his favourite waves were still the ones found at the Merimbula Bar.
Three of the top four places in the finals were filled by Australians, concreting the Aussies’ place in the top tier of surfing.
Two-time Tahiti champion Fanning was defeated in his semi final by Adrian “Ace” Buchan, who went on to beat Slater in the finals and claim Aussie victory for the 2013 event.
“I can’t believe it,” Buchan said.
“It hasn’t sunk in. What an incredible day though. The sun came out during the last five minutes and it’s all just really special right now.
“I knew I had to step it up today,” Buchan said.
“I had to plow through some big names today. Every time I paddled out, I told myself that I only had to catch two waves. That was my mantra through each heat and it worked out well for me,” he said.