Quiksilver’s Kelly Slater made history by capturing his tenth ASP World Title in Puerto Rico last week. Kelly is the first surfer to achieve ten ASP World Titles, an accomplishment spanning two decades of an astounding career during which he has dominated competitive surfing as both the youngest and oldest ASP World Champion. The day’s historic competition saw Kelly advance out of the Quarterfinals of the Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico over Adriano de Souza. Slater has amassed enough points to outstretch remaining South African contender Jordy Smith, and collect the 2010 ASP World Title, culminating a 20-year effort.
“I feel relieved, honestly,” says Kelly. “It’s been the most stressful title I’ve ever had, because it’s sort of an unknown place and you know at my age people say ‘you shouldn’t be doing this.’ And all the young guys are getting better and it’s a challenge to believe in yourself and not believe what other people tell you. I know how good Jordy, Dane, Mick, Taj and all those guys are, and it’s a marathon, you know? It’s not one wave, it’s not one maneuver, it’s not one contest. It’s a year-long thing and I know how to focus and it came together and I’m just so relieved.”
Slater, 38, vaulted into the 2010 season points lead mid-way through this year’s ASP World Tour title race when he won the Hurley Pro at Trestles (Calif.) in September, taking out 27-year-old Bede Durbidge in flawless six-foot waves. The win marked Kelly’s fourth career title at historic Trestles, the site of his first professional win twenty years earlier.
After Trestles, the ASP World Tour continued on to the Quiksilver Pro France at Les Culs Nus Beach, where Kelly took second place to the reigning ASP World Champion, 29-year-old Australian Mick Fanning. Kelly’s runner-up finish further extended his 2010 tour points lead as he delivered his first perfect ten score of the season with a ridiculous freefall drop into a barrel during the semifinals.
In mid-October, the tour continued on to Portugal for the Rip Curl Pro, an event that would play a vital role in determining the 2010 World Champion. Slater stormed to another first place finish in Portugal, earning a career record 44th Elite Tour victory during some of the highest-performance surfing the world has ever seen. Slater struck stealthily in the final round at epic Supertubos, locking in solid backhand waves in shifting conditions and staving off a late charge from 22-year-old current ASP World number two Jordy Smith.
Kelly won his previous ASP World Championships in 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2005, 2006 and 2008. His career victories also include ten WCT wins and two ESPN X Games gold medals.
Durban’s Jordy Smith was the only surfer posing a threat to Slater’s tenth title going into the penultimate event of the year but failed to stop Slater when he lost in the quarterfinals to Tahiti’s Michel Bourez. The 22-year-old Smith has been in fine form this year winning the Billabong Pro in Jeffrey’s Bay in July and securing a series of consistent results. While always fiercely competitive, their camaraderie was highlighted when Slater gave Smith a high five while surfing past before securing his win.
Highlights of all the action from the Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico can be found at http://live.ripcurl.com
Photos by ASP / Kelly Cestari