I love surfing competitions. The technical skill of the surfing competitors is something that I find incredible and competing in an extreme sport like surfing on such a high level is breathtaking and entertaining to watch. When the Rip Curl Pro Search surfing competition in San Francisco came around, I was glued to the couch through almost all of it waiting to see who would be crowned with the 11th ASP Surfing World Title at the end of the event.
It was definitely a crowd pleasing surfing event that came down to the last heat, where Florida based Kelly Slater scraped ahead of Australian competitor Dan Ross. In the post-event interview Slater referred to the heat as scrappy and admitted to not winning it in the most effortless style. I disagree! While Slater might have enormously high expectations for himself both he and Dan Ross were amazing to watch on the three to five foot swells at Ocean Beach. Just judging by how tense and quiet the crowd was you’d be able to tell just how exciting the finish was.
The win was bittersweet because it came on the one year anniversary of Andy Irons’ death who influenced Kelly Slater immensely and was in the past one of his greatest completions.
It was nice to see Slater acknowledge this during his speech after the event.
While Slater is by no means new to winning the title, he seemed pleased at the victory. As much as we hate to acknowledge it, he is getting on in years but easily came out ahead of 17 year old Gabriel Medina and 19 year old Miguel Pupo. For a moment things looked tense when the ASP miscalculated Slater’s scores but he took it all in his stride happily telling journalists that there were ‘no hard feelings’. While the whole debacle did spark controversy with the fans, Slater was undoubtedly the victor.
Surprisingly enough, he also had a hand in the fact checks. He responded to comments made by fans that something wasn’t adding up and even requested that the ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) check their results. He made this all publicly known. Most people would have just let it slide but once again Slater has shown his love for the sport as well as a passionate integrity. The only person who may have been heavily disappointed was Owen Wright who was set to take the title should Slater have failed to rank high enough in the last stretch. Although the ASP did apologize to both Slater and Write taking accountability for the miscalculation.
All in all it was an exciting finish to one of the most important events in the world of surfing. Crowds of fans the world over will be excited to lay the controversy to rest as Slater enjoys another win over younger contenders. Let’s hope that this kind of thing won’t happen in the future as it’s jeopardized the integrity of other results. At least Slater can rest easy knowing that he deserved the title.
Creative Commons photo by Carlo Riswick