The 2014 Billabong Pro Tahiti was one of the pinnacles of competitive surfing. This isn't hyperbole or a casual observation, simply based on the numbers, this run through Teahupoo was downright historic. And while Gabriel Medina would go on to edge out Kelly Slater in a nail-biting Final, it may also have been the peak competitive moment for the GOAT.
Throughout his time at the End of the Road that year, Slater tallied 14 nine-point rides and two perfect 10s. He finished the event with an unprecedented average heat score of a 18.97.
In fact, Round 1 was the only heat where Slater didn't have higher than a 19-point total. He had to settle for a 16.40…still better than both of his competitors combined (Sebatian Zietz finished the heat with a 10.34 and Glenn Hall finished with a 4.53).
With the waves hanging in the 10-to 12-foot zone and idyllic tropical conditions throughout the event, in total there were 63 nine-point rides. Eleven heats finished with totals of 19.00 or higher. But here's the real kicker, there were seven perfect 10s in the event. That's more than the six previous stops combined that season.
Ultimately, the final between Slater and Medina was decided by 0.03 of a point. Medina finished with 18.96, Slater with 18.93. It really does not get any closer. Medina would end up taking over the number one spot on the leaderboard from Slater as a result of his victory (and subsequently go on to win his first World Title).
But by most accounts, the heat of the event was Slater vs. John John Florence in the Semifinals. Throwing haymakers for 30 minutes, the two surfers finished the heat tied at 19.77. Slater ultimately took the win thanks to a 10-point ride in his scoreline.
Slater's produced a lot of magic throughout his 30 years surfing on the world's stage, there's no doubt about that, but the roll he was on in Tahiti in 2014 was next level…just look at the consistency of the scores. He practically surfed a perfect event from beginning to end. We may not see something like that for a long, long time.