Lennox Head’s Owen Wright defeats Kelly Slater

OWEN Wright and Kelly Slater lived up to the hype as Joel Parkinson rekindled the world title race on a dramatic day of surfing in Portugal.

For the second time this year, Lennox Head’s Wright caused a major upset at a world tour event by beating Slater.

About 20,000 fans flocked to the isolated Belgas beach near Peniche for round two of the Rip Curl Pro Search event and Slater was the obvious drawcard.

His loss to Wright at Bell’s Beach this year gave their heat added spice and they had a tight duel before the Australian teenager won by 14.83 points to 14.36.

It was one of three heats yesterday decided by less than a point. The result means Slater can not win his 10th world title this year and he threw down his board in frustration at the end of the heat.

Wright found out on Saturday that Slater, the nine-time world champion, would be his round-two opponent.

“It was a bit nerve-racking, thinking about the heat a lot and I’m pretty happy I could get through that one,” he said. “It’s a lot off my shoulders. My immediate reaction was ‘oh no’ but I think that could be everybody my age – ‘here we go’. But I was definitely looking forward to it.”

Parkinson had an easier time, beating Brazilian Bruno Santos 12.43 to 7.24.

His progression to round three in the second-last event of the world tour ensured the title race will come down to the finale in Hawaii. Parkinson ahead of Peniche narrowly trailed compatriot Mick Fanning by 44 points.– AAP

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