I remember thinking after the Pipe Masters last year that Kelly’s victory had been inevitable all along.

The situation was thus. If Mick didn’t make it to the semi-finals then Kelly would be able to clinch the World Title by winning the contest. Which, being Kelly Slater, he would surely do – he had not won the World Title since two years previously, and would no doubt feel the need to win it again. If Mick did make it to the semi-finals, thereby securing the World Title for himself, there would be nothing left for Kelly to do but to win the contest. And, what with him being Kelly Slater, there could be no question of his not doing so – first, to confirm that Mick’s making it to the semis had been absolutely necessary; and second, to prove that he was still the best, the world rankings notwithstanding.

As it turned out, of course, Mick did make it to the semis – but only just, after a somewhat questionable call from the judges, giving Kelly a further motive to win: to suggest that it should be him getting crowned World Champion instead.

All in all it was inevitable that one way or another Slater would win, and you may recall that he was outstanding throughout the event, posting the highest combined heat score of the round in every round he surfed in; his top three waves in his semi against Parko totalled 29.24. When he’s in that sort of mood he is inexorable, seeming to bend even the ocean to his will and himself assumes the dimensions of a force of nature.

The same logic is more or less applicable to this year’s Pipe Masters. In the extremely unlikely event that both Medina and Fanning leave the door open, it would be most unlike Slater not to capitalize; if they do not, he will feel compelled to win the contest anyway.

Kelly surfed well in Round 1, and would have advanced straight to Round 3 but for Adam Melling’s last minute 8.90; his performance in Round 2, however, quite possibly heralded of one of his famous rampages.

 After a slow first half of the heat, just when it seemed things might not be going his way, he stuck an absurd drop on a Pipe wave that jacked up violently, electing not to grab rail and styling straight into a giant close-out even he had no hope of making. The score wasn’t much, but the wave had set off some kind of trigger, and he proceeded to grow in stature, racking up a 6, then a 7, then a 9.57.

To put his combined heat score of 17.00 and back-up 6 into context, only one other surfer in Round 2 managed double figures – and Jadson André was only able to back up his 9 with a 3. Admittedly Kelly’s heat was first up, and conditions would deteriorate as the round went on, but it was nonetheless an ominous display.

The truth, of course, is that in surfing as in any other sport, nothing is inevitable, nobody is unstoppable. Kelly Slater is not a force of nature, much as he may sometimes resemble one; to misquote Dan le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip, he’s just a man. He has faltered in recent events. He beat John John in the final last year, but it could so easily have ended up the other way round. With ten minutes to go in the heat and still no real scores for either surfer John John had no choice but to go on a decent-looking wave, which as it turned out rewarded him with an 8.5. Unfortunately for him the next wave to come along was even better, and Kelly duly posted a near-perfect ride.

Such are the random twists of fate that make the difference between winning and losing. Still, they have shown over the years a distinct tendency to twist firmly in the favour of the eleven-time World Champ. Along with John John he is one of the best two surfers at Pipe in the contest. One of them will probably win. And because he’s Kelly Slater, it will probably be him.