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On Wednesday, California will welcome this year’s eighth CT event at Lower Trestles, the 2016 Hurley Pro. Defending champion Mick Fanning will be battling to retain his title as Trestles champion, but with a new CT No.1 and an icon now making a dangerous play for the top, Fanning’s task will be a tough one. Tahiti changed a lot.

It had been two and a half years since Kelly’s last CT win and his comeback was always expected to be classic. Perfect Teahupoo was a good place to have a crack down and with Trestles just around the corner, here’s a recap of what went down at the Billabong Tahiti Pro.

John John Florence at the Billabong Pro in Tahiti PHOTO: © WSL/ Cestari SOCIAL: @wsl @kc80

John John Florence at the Billabong Pro in Tahiti PHOTO: © WSL/ Cestari SOCIAL: @wsl @kc80

Kelly found himself battling the CT’s fastest rankings climber in the race to dominate at Tahiti’s reef gem, Teahupoo. John John Florence is unarguably one of the best all round performers on the tour this year and the new CT number 1 ousted Gabriel Medina during the semis. The pair battled tit for tat, both getting perfect barrels, busting airs and the tubes didn’t stop getting deeper. What a torturous heat to judge.  Eventually John John took the win by the skin of his teeth with an overall score of 19.66 over Medina’s 19.23.

Kelly Slater of the USA (pictured) posting a PERFECT TEN during Round Four at the Billabong Pro Tahiti on Monday August 22, 2016. PHOTO: © WSL/ Cestari SOCIAL: @kc80 @wsl

Kelly Slater posting a PERFECT TEN during Round Four at the Billabong Pro Tahiti. PHOTO: © WSL/ Cestari SOCIAL: @kc80 @wsl

So John John’s form was on point, but 5x Teahupoo champion Kelly threw absolutely all of his experience into the finals. There’s little to be done when Slater decides it’s time to take back control. 4 perfect 10 scores later, he took his 55th elite tour win and earned the Andy Irons Most Committed Performer award in the process.

“I know Andy would love this, and absolutely hate it” said Kelly.

Despite missing out on a win, this final earned John John his highest ranking ever on the tour; his challenge now will be holding on to the number 1 spot. Matt Wilkinson now sits at number 2 as the guys get ready to tackle the next event on the 2016 Men’s Championship tour at Trestles.

Trestles – 7-  18 September, follow at World Surf League

Featured image: Kelly Slater celebrates winning the Billabong Pro Tahiti for the fifth time in his career and earns the A.I. Award on Tuesday August 23, 2016. PHOTO: © WSL/ Cestari SOCIAL: @kc80

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