Not many surfers can say they’ve owned 9-time world champion Kelly Slater on tour, but Australia’s Owen Wright is building a strong case. Wright defeated Slater for the third time Saturday in stellar come-from-behind fashion at Lower Trestles thanks to his lethal backhand attack.
In 2009, Wright eliminated Slater twice while surfing as a wild card, first at Bells Beach, then in Portugal, where Wright went on to rip his way to the semifinals. While he didn’t eliminate Slater today, Wright did send the champ to the ASP’s new version of round five, AKA the losers bracket.
Slater and Dane Reynolds (along with their fans) are enjoying the new 36-man format that has two three-man rounds that are non-elimination. In the past, Slater and Reynolds would have been sent packing today. Yet tomorrow they’ll be try to claw their way back into the fight by surfing through the new round.
So what does Slater think of the young Australian who seems to be a giant thorn in his side? We asked, and Kelly didn’t hold back…