He has now moved up to fourth in the ASP World Rankings but it could have been all over for the 28-year-old in the semis as American Slater dominated the opening rounds.
However, the momentum changed in the dying minutes – when Bourez grabbed the day’s highest single-wave score of 9.37 to seal an unlikely victory.
The final was a much closer contest throughout but Bourez eventually triumphed leaving Kerr still looking for his first win on the tour.
“It’s such a good feeling to win,” said Bourez. “It’s a dream come true.”
“The semi-final was like a final. Surfing against Kelly Slater was tough so I had to really push my level up. That 9.37 I got came out of nowhere.”
Michel Bourez enjoys his first ever win on the ASP WCT
The women’s event went to Carissa Moore, the reigning two-time ASP Women’s World Champion, earlier in the week. The 21-year-old from Hawaii defeated Australian Tyler Wright. The tour’s attention now turns to the next stop, the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach, which gets underway on Wednesday 16th April.
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup – Pietermaritzburg, RSA
Aaron Gwin rode to his first World Cup win since 2012
Aaron Gwin erased memories of a disappointing 2013 season by kicking off the UCI Downhill World Cup campaign with victory in Pietermaritzburg.
The 2011 and 2012 World Cup champion struggled last year but looked back to his best as he dominated in qualifying before sealing victory with an even faster final run.
Mick Hannah was in the hot-seat for almost half the race but even his lightening fast middle section was not enough to keep American Gwin from topping the podium, while Greg Minnaar finished third on home-soil.
“It’s awesome to win again,” said Gwin. “It means a ton. We put so much work in to make sure I had the best chance of doing this.”
Britain’s Manon Carpenter celebrated her first ever win on the World Cup tour with an equally impressive performance in the women’s event.
The 21-year-old was fastest in qualifying and then knocked her fellow Brit, and defending champion Rachel Atherton, off the hot seat with her final run. After suffering with a virus during the week Atherton will have been delighted to get a place on the podium as she goes for a third-straight World Cup title.
American Jill Kintner finished in third but Emmeline Ragot, who was third fastest in qualifying and finished runner up to Atherton last season, could only manage a fifth-place finish.
“It feels amazing,” said Carpenter. “I’m really pleased to start off the season like this.
“It’s a nice confidence booster. Hopefully I’ve started the season as I mean to go on.”
The next stop on the seven-race World Cup tour is in Cairns, Australia on Thursday 24th April.
Here is the full repeat of the action from Pietermaritzburg.
Red Bull Air Race World Championships – Rovinj, Croatia
Hannes Arch came from behind to steal a narrow victory against defending champion Paul Bonhomme at the second stop of the Red Bull Air Race World Championships in Croatia on Sunday.
The Austrian was trailing at the mid point of the final round but a blisteringly fast second lap saw him stop the clock just 0.085 seconds quicker than his British rival.
There was also reason to celebrate for Japanese pilot Yoshihide Muroya who landed his first ever podium by finishing third.
The rivalry between Bonhomme and Arch only promises to continue in a new an improved Red Bull Air Race that is expected to be the most exciting ever. The duo now has a win each after the Brit won by an even smaller margin at the first stop in Dubai.
And the victory was even more special for the Austrian pilot because the new course proved to be one of the toughest ever - with a record six pylon hits.
“It was so difficult here,” said Arch. “When I heard I was first I had tears in my eyes because of all the emotions and the release of the pressure. “
The Red Bull Air Race next touches down in Putrajaya, Malaysia on Saturday 17th May.
Arch, Muroya and Bonhomme celebrate on the podium