Kelly Slater has claimed his 11th ASP World Tour title as he advanced into the third roudn of the 2011 Rip Curl Search in San Francisco today on the one-year anniversary of the death of his close friend and fierce rival surfer Andy Irons...
Slater, who is both the youngest and oldest ASP world champion, has been riding waves for over 20 years now but his hunger for victory hasn't diminished. In those two decades, the 39-year-old has racked up over $3 million in prize money and won 48 World Tour events – and today he clinched the 2011 title at the 2011 Rip Curl Search at Cean Beach, San Francicso.
Slater knew exactly what was required before taking to the water: "I just need to catch four good waves in this event to win the title." He got two of those on Tuesday, winning his round one heat against Kai Otton and Dean Brady after navigating through several barrels and releasing committed turn. Slater only needed a ninth-place finish to clinch the title, which he achieved by beating the dangerous Daniel Ross.
"It hasn't really sunk in," said Slater. "It's been a special time. Someone's looking over us here, and it's probaby Andy," Slater said. "What are the chances that I do this on the anniversary of Andy's passing away? In a way it makes this a lot more special. It's a way to celebrate my memories of him."
Before the start of the event - the penultimate on the ASP World Tour – Slater paid tribute to Red Bull surfer Andy Irons, who died a year ago this week. Slater and Andy were both friend and fierce rivals. Said Slater:
"Tomorrow [Wednesday] is the one-year anniversary of Andy’s passing away and it’s going to be a sad and happy day in remembering him… and if I can win the world title on that day it’d be secondary to the memory of Andy."
In other news, Dusty Payne was chased out of the water by a shark on Tuesday during his heat with Red Bull's own Jordy Smith. The South African surfer, who beat Payne, said later, "f he saw a shark, he saw a shark – I didn't really see what was going on."
"I found a couple of little nuggets and got barrelled,” Smith said. “Dusty (Payne) was unfortunate and he said he saw a shark out there so that’s a bit unnerving. The waves can be pretty fun though. It reminds me a lot about waves at home around Cape Town.”