MUNDAKA, Basque Country, Northern Spain (Friday, October 13, 2006) – After an amazing year on the Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour, Kelly Slater (USA) has claimed an unprecedented eighth world crown.
Despite there being two events still remaining in the season, Slater cannot be surpassed at the top of the ratings by any of his closest rivals (including Taj Burrow (AUS), Andy Irons (HAW), Joel Parkinson (AUS) and Mick Fanning (AUS)) who were all eliminated prior to or by Slater in today’s event, the Billabong Pro Mundaka.
It has been another scintillating year for Slater, kicking off the season with a sound win in the Quiksilver Pro on Australia’s Gold Coast.
He then backed that up with a win in event number two, the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach Victoria, Australia.
His event stats then read: 3rd in the Billabong Pro Tahiti; a no show at The Globe WCT Fiji; 5th in the Rip Curl Pro Search, 3rd Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay, 2nd Boost Mobile Pro, California; 3rd Quiksilver Pro France; and now 2nd here in the Billabong Pro Mundaka.
And while Burrow – who had a second to Slater in the opening event and again came in at second to Fanning at Jeffereys Bay – at times looked to be closing in on the front runner, Slater has held onto the top slot all year.
Slater admitted that this year has probably been his best consistency-wise since he claimed his first title way back in 1992.
“This has definitely been my most consistent year ever,” said Slater directly after claiming the title after he won over Parkinson in the Billabong Pro Mundaka semifinals. “I’ve been much more relaxed this year. I’ve just been cruising and having fun and haven’t put so much pressure on myself.”
After claiming six world crowns in the ’90s Slater drifted into semi-retirement in 1999.
He then returned to the Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour in 2001 and after an incredible duel with former three-time champion Andy Irons (HAW) Slater reclaimed the crown in 2005.
And after such an emotionally draining win last year, the 34-year-old Floridian hinted that he may again look to retire in 2006.
At the beginning of the year Slater was still not committed to completing the whole tour.
Slater claimed that after the two wins in the opening events he had found new momentum and after a rib injury held him out of the Globe WCT in Fiji, he began to muster for an all out assault.
“I was almost going to retire this year,” said Slater. “And then I won on the Gold Coast and then at Bells and kept going. I tore a rib cartilage at Bells, and then I hit the same spot with my board in Tahiti. That meant that I missed Fiji, which probably kept my motivation going into the next event in Mexico. That made me more focused, and I had the advantage of competing in one less event than the other guys but still had the ratings lead, so I could afford to relax and take things as they came.”
Yet again Slater has displayed that he is most definitely the greatest competitive surfer of all time.
While many of his much younger rivals consistently lift the performance bar year in year out, Slater continues to match the new school and out do the old.
To follow are the basic stats of Kelly Slater. More can be found on www.aspworldtour.com in the surfer profiles section.
In winning his eighth Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour crown Slater has again created history.
He won his first title in Brazil at Rio de Janeiro in 1992. He then lost the following year to Derek Ho (HAW) but reclaimed his crown in 1994 and held onto it with a firm grip until 1998.
Slater left the tour before the start of the 1999 season to go into semi-retirement until 2001.
From 2002 to 2004 three-time world champion Andy Irons (HAW) dominated the sport.
In 2005, after a dramatic chain of events, where Slater engaged in an intense ratings battle with Irons he returned to forefront of the sport reclaiming the crown yet again in Brazil.
Slater was the youngest to claim the title at 20 years of age and is now the oldest champion at 34 years of age. Eclipsing his own record set last year when he was 33.
The only record Slater is yet to smash is the most number of competition victories held by Tom Curren (USA). He is currently equal with Curren with 33 event victories.
Slater has however now overtaken Curren for the most heat wins at top-level competition.
Quotes from Kelly Slater, immediately after the title win and his second place to Martinez in the Billabong Pro Mundaka.
On Bobby Martinez on his year and winning the Billabong Pro Mundaka:
“I was stoked that Bobby started out so strong this year. He got to third and he was right up there in the ratings, then he had a little rough patch there during the past few events. I was just so happy to see him win at Teahupoo, it was his dad’s birthday that day. To win here again it just all fits, I got the title by making the final and Bobby (Martinez) wins it. I’m stoked for him.”
Slater on the realisation of his 8th world title claim sinking in:
“I’ve got to get away from everyone for it to sink in. I need a little space. I had a lot of stress for the last couple of years before winning last year and this year I haven’t really had any stress at all. I’ve been on a good run and I just kept getting those results. I wasn’t really too worried about it either way. It all just came together, it’s just been the smoothest year ever as far as competition goes. My life is pretty cruisey now. I don’t know how to put it, but it’s definitely not the emotional output of last year. I had years of stuff building up to that and this year is just happier. Everything came out last year.”
Slater on beating the records of successful champions such as Lance Armstrong and Michael Schumacher:
“I haven’t even thought about that. I just have to sit back and think about that, Schumacher nearly won his 8th the other day but he blew his engine out and Lance didn’t even try for his 8th so it would be interesting to see if he tried for that.”
Slater on going for a 9th world title next year:
“I feel good, I feel like I’m surfing as strong and as good as ever. I feel like I’m competing better than ever. It makes me feel like I can keep going if I want. I just don’t know if that’s what I want now. At this point I’m not sure.”
Slater on nearly giving it all away at the beginning of the year:
“It was really close, I almost didn’t even come to Bells Beach, I’m sure there’s some sort of moral in that for me for my life.”
Slater on the decision to defend the title next year:
“Can’t I just enjoy eight!”
Slater on the temptation to retire at the pinnacle of his career:
“Yeah it is tempting, but it’s also tempting when you’re doing well to keep going. If I had come back and not won the title it could have been a frustrating thing for me looking back, but it’s also part of doing everything possible to try and have everything you can have.”
Slater on a straightforward year:
“I think the one key thing was that I just didn’t have that stress of lat year. I’m sure other guys were feeling it, but I was just relaxed. I really honestly didn’t care until the last couple of events, where it started sinking in that I could win my 8th title, but up until that I was just thinking ‘don’t worry about it, I’ve got the 7th, I’m stoked I can just relax now, everything else is just a bonus’. That attitude allowed me to be a lot freer in my decision making in the water. To be not stressed and to take chances and stuff and it’s all sort of paid off.
Slater on how satisfying this world title is compared to others:
“This one’s a real different feeling, last year was just such a pressure valve and just such a big release. This year is maybe the most satisfying cause it just flowed so well. I’m throwing away a 5th place now and I’ve never come close to that in my career. It will be nice to throw that 5th out come the end of the year.”
Slater on the remaining two contests of the year:
“I’d really love to win those contests, I’d really love to win Pipe, and so I’m going to really focus on that.”
Slater on being the first to win multiple world titles on separate occasions:
“I didn’t really think about it, I guess I’ll sit back later and think about it. I’ve got to try and keep my focus It feels good, I’m a little cold and shaky, but I’m just stoked I can go and sit down now and relax.”
Slater on dreaming about being champion:
“I used to play little games with myself, like paddle for waves and say, if I catch this one I’ll win this many world titles. I used to just plant these seeds in my head and I don’t know what number I put in there but eight sounds pretty good.”
Slater on the possibility of beating Tom Curren’s record of most WCT event wins:
“I’d have to think about that one, Curren is my all time surfing hero. I know we’re tied right now. I could have had it in Trestles if I won that one, it would have been a little ironic there because Tom (Curren) and I both won our first events at that wave. If I could have done it today it would’ve meant a lot to win my eighth world title and win that at the same time.”
For more quotes from Slater during the event go to the media centre of www.aspworldtour.com For all of Kelly Slater’s transcribed quotes from every event this year, go to WCT events and click on the individual event pages and go to the media centre within the mini site.
Current Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour top 10 ratings after event #9 The Billabong Pro Mundaka
1. Kelly Slater (USA) 7824
2. Andy Irons (HAW) 6348
3. Taj Burrow (AUS) 6290
4. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 6050
5. Mick Fanning (AUS) 5848
6. Bobby Martinez (USA) 5843
7. Damien Hobgood (USA) 5152
8. Tom Whitaker (AUS) 4948
9. Taylor Knox (USA) 4880
10. Dean Morrison (AUS) 4856