Despite the hype and celebration Wednesday afternoon, Kelly Slater did not clinch his 11th world surfing title with a third-round triumph during the Rip Curl Pro Search in San Francisco, but he can do so with a heat victory in the fourth round when the contest resumes.
Australia’s Owen Wright still has a very slim chance of overtaking Slater.
The Assn. of Surfing Professionals, in a monumentally embarrassing screw-up, incorrectly figured the mathematics before stating in a news release before Wednesday’s third-round heats that Slater would clinch the championship with a heat triumph over Australia’s Daniel Ross.
Slater won the heat and was proclaimed champion, complete with a champagne shower, and reported by some to be one of the world’s greatest athletes of any sport. (Slater, 39, has essentially dominated the ASP World Tour since winning his first title at age 20.)
But on Friday, Slater, who learned of the mistake from a fan on the Internet, confirmed the news in a Tweet: “I’m not joking. I have not won the world title yet. I still have to win another heat! Give those shirts and hats back!”
The ASP subsequently acknowledged the goof, which was made by computers figuring tie-breaking scenarios, and early Friday afternoon issued a statement apologizing for the error. The Rip Curl event has been on hold since Wednesday and Slater now will have to prevail in his fourth-round heat, against Brazil’s Gabriel Medina and Miguel Pupo, to clinch the title.
The contest could resume as early as Sunday and here’s the new scenario involving Slater in his pursuit for an 11th title:
– If he gets another heat win in San Francisco, he’ll clinch the title.
– If he fails to win another heat in San Francisco, Wright must win the event to send the race to the 11th and final contest to Hawaii.
– If the race goes to Hawaii, Slater must win one heat to earn the title. If he doesn’t advance through a heat in Hawaii, Wright must also win that contest to stay in the race.
– If Slater fails to advance out of another heat this season, and Wright wins in San Francisco and Pipeline, the two will be tied and the 2011 ASP World Title will be decided in a “Surf Off.”
In other words, Slater should just keep the trophy because it’ll be his soon enough.
– Image shows Kelly Slater accepting a trophy for winning an 11th ASP World Tour title, before learning he has yet to actually clinch the title. Credit: ASP/Kirstin