Kelly Slater’s hunt for another world title shifted into high gear Sunday, as demonstrated by his commanding Round One performance at the Hurley Pro. The 40-year-old 11-time world champion set the pace in tricky conditions by waiting patiently for his opportunities to strike, and pouncing.
While most of the ASP Top 32 struggled in the lumpy south wind conditions, Slater maintained his polished approach by not forcing the issue in the lumpy woops. By choosing his lines carefully, he avoided getting tripped up like so many others were in the early morning devil-wind.
History tells us no surfer can touch Slater’s dominance at Lower Trestles. His first professional win came here all the way back in 1990, and he’s been the man to beat here ever since. What’s stunning is that 22 years after that first win as a pro, Slater continues to distance himself from the rest, but especially at Trestles. This week he’ll be going for his fourth ASP win at Lowers in the past five years.
Not surprisingly, Lowers is where Slater actually begins to really mount his world title runs. For the past five seasons (or so) Slater’s been annoyingly noncommittal during the first half of the season. But if he’s anywhere near the top of the ratings by the time the tour hits Lowers, it’s impossible for him to resist the challenge. This year is no different.
His opening-heat dominance on Sunday may have looked like just another casual display, but don’t be fooled, that was Slater throwing down the gauntlet.
VIDEO: Slater’s 2010 Hurley Lowers Pro win was won of his most impressive, especially since it came two decades after his first pro victory at the same break. In 2012, he’s going for this fourth ASP win at the Trestles in the past five years.