Kelly Slater, known to many as the King of Surfing, won his 11th world title Sunday in San Francisco, four days after he was prematurely granted the honor due to a miscalculation of points.
In the third day of competition in the Rip Curl Pro Search surfing contest, Slater scored a heat total of 17.17 out of a possible 20 points, defeating Brazilians Gabriel Medina and Miguel Pupo. His point total was sufficient to secure him the Association of Surfing Professionals title.
At 39, Slater is the oldest champion in ASP history. The American surfer also was the youngest champion, when he won at age 20 in 1992.
His win came on a blustery day with few waves at Ocean Beach, which was not known as a top surfing destination until the contest promoters chose it as a stop on this year’s world championship tour.
“We put up with this a lot,” said local surfer James Ruggieri, 44, who came out to watch the competition Sunday. “I was interested in what the pros could do. To me, it proved how good these guys are, that they could pull off these massive maneuvers and tube rolls.”
Rachel Hall, a 20-year-old student at Cal State Long Beach, proudly showed off Slater’s autograph Sunday afternoon.
“He seemed like a really nice guy, given how awesome he is,” she said.
Hall, who grew up surfing in Australia, said that the poor conditions at Ocean Beach, including strong currents and unpredictable waves, made the contest more interesting.
“We like to see them challenged,” she said.
A few thousand people turned out to watch Sunday, the third day of the men’s competition.
Max Dillon, 24, of Marin County said it was good to see so many fans there.
“But at the same time, I don’t want people to get too excited and start coming here all the time,” the amateur surfer said. “That makes it hard to get a wave. There’s only so many waves out here.”
Although Kelly won the world title, the Rip Curl Pro Search is still up for grabs. Surfers, including Kelly, will compete in the semi-finals on Monday or Tuesday, provided that good conditions prevail.
World champion, again
58,150: Points Kelly Slater earned this year by placing in competitions
45,650: Points runner-up Owen Wright of Australia has earned
$525,000: Prize money Slater earned this year
$3,030,755: Prize money Slater has earned during his 20-year career
Source: Association of Surfing Professionals