Kelly Slater’s Road To 10 In '10
Here’s what happened today as Kelly Slater won his historic 10th ASP World Title:
Kelly Slater gets mobbed wherever he goes, but when he came in from his quarterfinal 10th ASP World Title clinching victory against Adriano de Souza, Kelly got barraged by surf fans. He was overcome and in tears. In the post heat interview he said, "I want to dedicate this to Andy [Irons], and my family. I don't know what to say, it just kind of hit me right now," and then couldn't talk for about five seconds after that, just completely overcome with emotion. It was the culmination of a lifetime of competitive surfing, a lifetime of goals and dreams. For a few seconds he was speechless, unguarded, you could see the moment washing over him.
Kelly started things off quick in the quarters by backdooring a barrel for a 9 and then followed that up with a longer double barrel for a 9.87 that makes Taj’s 10 in the previous heat look like a quick in-out. Kelly then followed that up with a clean, no-grab 360 air reverse. Five minutes into the heat Kelly has 18.87 points, while Adriano had yet to catch a wave. Slater played it perfectly, the heat was done after Kelly's first two waves. 10.
With things pretty much wrapped up, barring an Adriano barrage of two 10s, Kelly high-fives Jordy (as the latter was paddling out for his matchup against Michel Bourez) while on a wave, because Jordy was in the next heat. And miraculously the sun comes out at the tail-end of Kelly’s heat.
Slater knew it, too. After getting spit out of the double barrel, he put his face in his hands for a second, as if he couldn't believe he'd just nabbed a second near perfect ride. And then after pulling out of the whitewash at the end of the wave, he pointed to sky for a split second. Andy? His late father? It was one of those classic, unexplainable Slater moments. Who knows where they come from, but waves have come to Slater his whole life. Actual waves in the ocean when he needs them most, and metaphorical waves of success and good luck.
Here’s how he got to his 10th ASP World Title in 2010…
Count ’em. 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010. That’s 10.
In a year when much needed changes were executed on the ASP World Tour, Kelly Slater set out from day one on what quickly began appearing as his swan song. There’s a central theme in all this for Kelly: 10. Just last week, Sal Masekela broke down how wonderful the number 10 is. One World Title is hard enough. Think of all the incredible surfers who don’t have one to their names: Dane Reynolds, Joel Parkinson, Taj Burrow, etc., etc.
At 38, Kelly needed no further assertion that he’s the greatest surfer to ever walk this Earth, but who hangs it up after nine without getting ten? And with the tragic passing of Andy Irons, Kelly dedicated this 10th title to AI saying, “If it wasn’t for Andy I wouldn’t even be in this position.”—Ryan Brower
Begin Kelly’s road to 10 in ’10 on the next page.
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast: 9th place
Prior to the Snapper event, as has been the case for the last couple of years, Slater's Brett Favre-like see-saw of whether to stay on tour or retire was determined early. Kelly had this to say about chasing ten: "I'm comfortable with 9 (ASP World Titles), but yeah, 10 has a certain allure to it."
Kelly got knocked out in Round 4 against Jordy Smith and took home a 9th. Not the way the 9-time champ wants to start off the year, but a top 10 finish is good for most. Little did we know that he'd be fighting back against Jordy all year long. But Kelly did rack in this 9.27 before bowing out (below):
On to the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach on the next page.
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach: 1st place
Classic Kelly at Bells this year. He breaks two bones in his foot while freesurfing (check the video of it here) and continues to demolish the field. His Round 3 heat against Dusty Payne was an early statement by Kelly. Despite Dusty's nosepick from hell Kelly kept to his guns and knocked the rookie Hawaiian out.
But that was just the beginning for Kelly. The final pitted himself against Mick and it was a shootout from the start, the capper being Kelly’s massive alley oop. "I was surprised when my feet landed on my board after that alley oop," said Slater of the momentum-changing move.
He then passed around the huge Bells trophy that Rip Curl awards the winner every year, letting everybody get a chance to ring it since this was his fourth (tying MR for most Bells ever). But that wasn’t it either for firsts, Kelly then gave the trophy away to the local Aboriginal tribe, thanking them in the process for letting the contest happen on their land. And as if he hadn't showcased his talents enough, he started jamming on the didgeridoo with the local boys. Kelly now heads to Brazil ranked second in the world behind Taj Burrow…
On to the Billabong Pro Santa Catarina in Brazil on the next page.
Billabong Pro Santa Catarina: 2nd place
It was Kelly against and up-and-coming Brazilian for the second straight year in the final. This year though, World Tour rookie Jadson Andre got the upperhand, as Jadson Andre redeemed buddy Adriano de Souza’s loss last year to Kelly (check out the full story of it here).
With the runner-up finish Slater, takes over the ratings lead heading to J-Bay. One could see from early on that Kelly’s goals were number 10 from the get-go: “I feel less pressure this year and that’s a good thing,” Slater said. “I didn’t have what I would call a very good year for myself last year, and this one started out slowly but sped up as I found focus through the injury at Bells. From here on out, I stay aware of what I need to.”
On to the Billabong Pro Jeffrey’s Bay on the next page.
Billabong Pro Jeffrey’s Bay: 17th place
Jeffrey’s Bay was formed by the hands of Poseidon strictly for Kelly Slater. He’s won the event four times and seemed like a no-brainer to take it again this year coming in hot like he did. But it wasn’t to be.
Kelly got netted by wildcard Sean Holmes in Round 3, who also took out Andy Irons the following round. "Going all the way to J-Bay and getting 17th makes me wish I had stayed home,” Kelly said after the disappointing early exit. “You lose confidence and waste time on planes. That's the way it goes—you have good events and bad events." He appeared to get the wave he needed with time winding down, but Holmes waited out the back with priority and sure enough a bigger one came through, giving Holmes back the lead and the victory.
The early exit by Kelly amidst the World Cup chaos leaves Jordy all alone to take over the ratings lead, and eventually the event itself (check out that full story here). Kelly now sits in third in the ratings behind Taj Burrow and Jordy.
On to the Billabong Pro Tahiti at Teahupoo on the next page.
Billabong Pro Tahiti: 3rd place
The ASP executed a schedule change this year to hopefully garner some better swells at Teahupoo. But it didn’t quite work out. Even so, Kelly squeaks by local wildcard Heiarii Williams in Round 3, butchers rookie Adam Melling in Round 4, and dropped the only 10 of the event against Ace Buchan in the quarters. "It's been a while (since getting a 10)," Slater said. "That was probably the best wave of the day. I looked at the first one, and I was surprised Ace (Adrian Buchan) went on the first one. The second one usually sucks out more and is more hollow. I was a little bit far back when I was paddling, and when I turned around to go, the wind was pushing me back. So I really had to overcompensate once I got to the bottom and finally set my edge. It was a good one though."
Kelly then continues on to the semis where a battle the world had been waiting for, with a now red-hot Andy Irons, goes down. Andy fumbled on his first wave but recovered quickly and made that ten look almost irrelevant. Andy eventually wins the contest and Kelly bounces back after the hard-to-swallow 17th at J-Bay. The third place finish moves Kelly up to second in the ratings, right behind Jordy Smith.
On to the Hurley Lowers Pro on the next page.
Hurley Pro Lower Trestles: 1st place
Lowers this year was ridiculous. Probably one of the most exciting surf contests there to date, especially with the chop having taken place in Tahiti, making the eventual winner having to win more heats for a more well-rounded performance. Lowers fired for three days and the world’s best capitalized. Jordy came into the event number 1 and Hurley even put names and rankings on jerseys for the surfers. You know Kelly was not happy about having to don the number 2 jersey. The champ made mincemeat of wildcard uber-kid Kolohe Andino in round 2, surfed Lowers all by himself in Round 5 due to a missing Davo, thwarted potential R.O.Y. Owen Wright in the quarters, got into Mick's head in the semis, got one of the best barrels at Lowers ever, and eventually beat Bede Durbidge in the final to be the first winner of the new 36-man contest format.
"What can I say? What a week," Slater said. The win at Lowers, his fourth elite tour win at Lower Trestles (2005, 2007, 2008 and 2010), vaults Slater into the ratings lead in his hunt for an unprecedented 10th ASP World Title. "Looking back at my career, I never would have fathomed a ninth title, let alone a 10th," Slater said. "I don't know what to say. It's still a long road ahead. We still have four events and I'm just trying to soak in this win and not even think about everything right now.”
“I think the new format is good for the fans," Slater said. "They get to see us surf a little more and it was definitely a different mindset for me paddling out yesterday. I was kind of just having fun. I was out there to have a good time and I sort of realized at the halfway mark that I was in a heat. I feel like I sort of blew that heat, but it's a bonus. If you win you get a round off and if you lose you get to surf again. I think it's good overall. It does make us surf once more than we would normally, but I don't mind out here."
Kelly now sits number 1 with a 4,500 point lead over Jordy.
On to the Quiksilver Pro France on the next page.
Quiksilver Pro France: 2nd place
If you thought Lowers went 10 on the Richter scale, then France broke the Richter (along with all of Owen Wright’s boards). Heading to Europe with a 4,500 point lead over Jordy, the Euro leg was where Kelly creates some major distance.
When Kelly came in from his quarters victory against Michel Bourez he said, "Oh my gosh. This is what we live for. There's the craziest waves out there. You don't want to get sixes, you want to get tens out there today. They're out there, someone's going to get a ten soon," so you know France was good. And Kelly was the one who proceeded to do just that in his very next heat—get a ten on an impossible freefall drop in the barrel and send rookie Brett Simpson packing (Kelly’s second 10 of the year).
"It wasn't one of those classic waves," Slater said. "It was a little wonky at the start and I was waiting for it to hit the shallow part of the sandbar. I grabbed as hard as I could at the top of the wave to slow myself down, but my fins released and I ended up slipping down the face on the nose of my board. I thought I had blown it, but as I got to the bottom, my fins caught and I could reset my line and it worked out."
Mick ends up beating Kelly in the final and putting himself into the title race for a breath. But the second place finish furthers Kelly's lead, now 7,250 points heading to Portugal.
On to the Rip Curl Pro Portugal on the next page.
Rip Curl Pro Portugal: 1st place
Mick and Taj both bowed out in Round 3, dismissing themselves from this year's title race entirely. This means it’s all on the shoulders of the young South African, Jordy Smith, to stop Slater from obtaining his 10th World Title.
Jordy does all he can, decimating any and all surfers in his path. The semis come around and Kelly and Jordy take care of Davo and Jeremy, respectively. Kelly landed yet another massive alley-oop leaving Davo scratching his head before saluting the Champ.
The match-up everyone wants to see is set. Jordy vs. Kelly. If Jordy wins it means things are very, very far from over. If Kelly wins number 10 could all but be a formality now. It was a tight final, with Kelly getting the upperhand by completing all his moves while Jordy fumbles going for some bigger stuff. Kelly wins only by 1.9 points, but it’s what comes from the mere 1.9 points that creates a giant gap.
Kelly’s lead is now extended to nearly 10,000 points, leaving these scenarios for Puerto Rico: "If Kelly gets a 3rd or better in Puerto Rico, he clinches the title; Kelly gets a 5th/9th, Jordy needs a 1st; Kelly gets 13th/25th, Jordy needs a 3rd; We can also say that if Jordy gets a 5th or worse, Kelly is the Champion—even with a 25th."
On to the Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico on the next page.
Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico: 1st Place
Puerto Rico is the closest to home event on tour Kelly has ever had, and it’s the place he gets to wrap up his tenth. Stephanie Gilmore wins her fourth World Title on Tuesday, foreshadowing Kelly’s success later in the week for Kelly. Tuesday also brought one of the greatest losses in surfing as well with the tragic passing of Andy Irons, the only one who ever challenged Kelly. At the AI tribute paddle out, Kelly had this to say:
"Andy was an absolutely gifted individual. I'm lucky to have known him and had the times we had together. I feel blessed that we worked through the differences we had and I was able to learn what I'm made of because of Andy. We enjoyed many quiet times together with our girls in the last year and I got to know a happy, funny, innocent kid who was happy to live every second with the people he loved. I'm so sad."
The Search postpones till Friday in memory of Andy. Once things get going again Kelly has a match-up with local wildcard Dylan Graves in Round 3. The Puerto Ricans go crazy for Dylan, but he falls to the champ. No matter though, the Puerto Ricans are excited and hope to see Kelly win his 10th on their island.
In the Round 4 no losers heat Adriano beat Kelly but commits a crucial interference on Kelly, giving Kelly the ticket to the quarters. Figures they would end up meeting again in the quarters for the World Title decisive heat for Kelly. The champ walks down the stairs for his quarters match-up surrounded by Puerto Ricans cheering him on. Who wouldn’t want to see history made on their island? Chants of “Kelly!” all over the beach.
Kelly started things off quick by backdooring a barrel for a 9 and then followed that up with a longer double barrel for a 9.87 that makes Taj’s 10 in the previous heat look like a quick in-out. Kelly then followed that up with a clean, no-grab 360 air reverse. Five minutes into the heat Kelly has 18.87 points, while Adriano has yet to catch a wave.
With things pretty much wrapped up, barring an Adriano barrage of two 10s, Kelly high-fives Jordy while on a wave, because Jordy was in the next heat. And miraculously the sun comes out at the tail-end of Kelly’s heat.
Kelly gets mobbed coming in after the hooter, mobbed even more than usual. In the post heat interview Kelly has this to say, “If it wasn’t for Andy I wouldn’t be in this position right now. I want to dedicate this to Andy and my family.I don’t know how it all came together the way it did this year. At the time I really wanted to win that event [Teahupoo] but having had Andy win that contest it was really special to surf that last heat with him this year.”
Then on to the semis match-up with Taj. Most competitors would’ve had a few beers and enjoyed the moment. Not Kelly though, he wanted the victory as well after seeing Steph Gilmore earlier in the week raising both the ASP Cup and the Rip Curl Search Globe. He started off a little slow and Taj seemed to have things in the back, but Slater fought back withbBack-to-back 8.17's to steal the lead from Taj. After making it into the semis Kelly said, "That was payback for Taj smashing me at Pipe last year," chuckling as if it were a joke.
In the final against Bede Durbidge Kelly continues pushing things going after his 45th ASP World Tour win. Kelly nailed a 10 with his signature swooping cutback snapping the nose back into the pocket, a big buried rail turn, and finished with a no handed 360 air revo. Of course the champ had to get a 10 when he won his 10th in 2010. Remember, the theme of 10 is revolving around Kelly's whole life right now.