Kelly Slater further cemented his status as the greatest surfer ever by winning his unprecedented 11th ASP World Title in San Francisco, defeating Australian Dan Ross in a thrilling round three heat of the Rip Curl Pro Search San Francisco to repeat as ASP World Champion.
Everything seemed like it was meant to be for Slater on a beautiful day at Ocean Beach. With a light breeze, very warm temperatures and pristine surfing conditions, Slater avoided an upset by scoring a solid right-hander with just over three minutes remaining to grab the lead and ultimately win the 2011 ASP World Title.
"This is pretty fabulous," said Slater. "Two days ago in the afternoon it was chunky and small and didn't look inviting at all. Yesterday was nice and today looks like a nice day in France. I don't know, this hasn't sunk in. I've been pretty stressed about it and I'm glad it's over. It's very fulfilling and there's personal satisfaction. It feels real nice. I've dedicated my life to surfing and competing and to go a whole year and win a world title and have it pay off, it's really fulfilling. To win on American soil is nice. Everyone's been so cool and the locals have been so stoked. It's been a special time. It's been warm and offshore and a nice little swell. Someone's looking over us and probably Andy (Irons)."
The closeouts and strong currents, which were giving surfers some trouble on day one, turned into absolutely perfect conditions in rounds two and three, which were run on the second day of the contest. And Slater, who showed his gratitude to the crowd after being carried to the podium following his winning heat, was appreciative of winning his first World Title on North American soil. Slater asked for a moment of silence in honor of his friend Andy Irons, who passed away a year ago to the day, and gave special thanks to NorCal for hosting his 11th World Title while being showered with champagne on the podium.
The entire scene at Ocean Beach can be described as nothing less than magical. The cold weather, howling winds and rain that is now hitting Northern California somehow held itself back so Slater can revel in yet another World Title. At 39 years of age, Slater, who won his first World Title at the record-breaking age of 20, extended his record for being the oldest ever to win a World Title. For those on-hand to witness the Floridian's 11th World Title, it seemed as if the entire crowd was appreciative of Slater for bringing what could possibly be his final World Title to San Francisco.
Slater's peers seemed to celebrate the victory more than Slater himself. Nearly all of his fellow World Tour competitors were in a celebratory mood after Slater clinched the World Title, drinking beer and watching the remainder of the contest while Slater stayed back in the athlete's area reveling in his historic achievement. Later in the evening, rather than go celebrate in one of San Francisco's infamous clubs, bars or restaurants, Slater decided to hold his celebratory party at Sea Bowl, located in Pacifica. "I wanted to do two things tonight," Slater told me that evening. "Drink beer and go bowling."
Drink beer and go bowling Slater did.
For those who missed Slater surfing at Ocean Beach, the Rip Curl Pro Search San Francisco contest window is still open and Slater has every intention of returning to try and win the contest. Visit live.ripcurl.com every morning from now until November 12th to see when the contest will run next. The following is an extensive photo gallery and video highlights of the first two days of the Rip Curl Pro Search San Francisco. Congratulations to the greatest surfer ever, Kelly Slater, for winning his 11th ASP World Title.