BELLS BEACH, Australia (Wednesday, Mar. 28, 2007) – Despite surfing incredibly consistently and securing his record eighth Foster's ASP World Title with two events to spare in 2006, Kelly Slater (USA) has not won an elite tour event since the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach last year.
Slater beat former Rip Curl Pro champion Joel Parkinson (AUS) in the 2006 event final to tie Tom Curren (USA) for the most elite tour events won by single surfer. Both Curren and Slater have 33 event titles to their credit at present.
"It seems strange that I haven't had a win since Bells and that it has been a full year since I won an event, because I had such a great year last year," Slater said. "I made a couple of finals and had a few thirds but I think I may have been suffering from a mental block about passing Tom's event win record. It's been on weighing on my mind and maybe if I could have put that to bed it would have freed me up to clinch a couple more wins last year."
The ASP event wins record is one of the only accolades in professional surfing that Slater does not own outright. He is hoping to change that when the Foster's ASP World Tour heads to Torquay, Australia for the 35th Annual Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach next week.
"I would love to have a win at Bells," Slater said. "In a way it would be more meaningful to win my 34th there, just because Tom is so synonymous with Rip Curl and Bells Beach in general. I was hoping to put [the record] to rest at Trestles last year because Tom and I both won our first professional events there and I thought that would have been pretty ironic, but it would be special to do it in Torquay too."
Adding to the history and prestige of Australia's longest running surf event, will be the attendance of several surfing icons synonymous with the event and the sport.
"I just turned 35 last month and it's the 35th anniversary of the Rip Curl Pro, so Bells and I are sort of in alignment right now," Slater joked. "It hasn't been one of my better events on tour, but with Tom and some of the other greats' presence there for the anniversary celebrations, if I could for some reason pull off a win it would be pretty special."
Slater will face rest of the Foster's 45, wildcards Owen Wright (AUS) and Matt Wilkinson (AUS) and the winner of the Victoria Place To Be Trials (who will earn the third and final wildcard) when competition commences next week.
The Rip Curl Pro waiting period starts Tuesday, Apr. 3 and stretches until Apr. 13. Stop 2 of the ASP Women's World Tour, the Rip Curl Women's Pro Bells Beach, will run in tandem with the Foster's ASP World Tour event.
OFFICIAL RIP CURL PRO BELLS BEACH PRESS LAUNCH DETAILS
WHAT: Media Launch - 2007 Rip Curl Pro Surfing Festival at Bells Beach
WHERE: Bells Beach Carpark, Bells Beach
WHEN: Monday, April 2nd, 2007
TIME: 11am to 12.30pm
WHO: Kelly Slater (USA), Andy Irons (HAW), Mick Fanning (AUS), Mark Occhilupo (AUS), Ben Dunn (AUS), Layne Beachley (AUS), Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS), Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) and Chelsea Hedges (AUS)