Kelly Slater has won his 11th world surfing title at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach today in 4-6 foot surf at the 10th stop of the 2011 Asp World tour, the Rip Curl Pro Search. With mixed emotions, Slater and surfing’s elite are celebrating Kelly’s 11th win while mourning the 1-year anniversary of 3-time world champion surfer Andy Irons’s passing.
Irons, 32, died unexpectedly on Nov 2, 2010 in a Dallas airport hotel room after succumbing to a heart attack. Toxicology reports indicated Irons had been taking a mix of prescription medications to treat a flu-like illness.
For Slater, Irons was a great friend and rival. “He’s always been one of my favorite surfers…He was the most intense competitor I’ve ever known and one of the most sensitive people. He had so much life left in him and it hurts to think about.”
Slater won six ASP world titles from 1992-1998 after which Irons became the sports dominant competitor for a short time, winning three titles from 2002-2004.
Irons fiery competitive nature inspired Slater to stay in the game, motivating four more titles from 2005-2010.
“I feel blessed that we worked through the differences we had and I was able to learn what I’m made of because of Andy,” said Slater.
Many in the surf media made the case last year, after Slater won his 10th world title, that the surfing phenom might be the world’s greatest athlete – ever – arguing that no other legend of sport – Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Roger Federer – could match Slater’s overall dominance.
Such comparisons may be futile, but what is certain is the breadth of Slater’s success – 20 competitive seasons, 48 world tour event victories and 11 world titles.
Today that champion spirit proved vibrant when Slater defeated Dan Ross in the sixth heat of round 3, winning the first ASP World Championship title ever claimed at a US mainland contest.
“It’s very fulfilling personally,” said Slater. “I’ve dedicated my whole life to surfing since I was a little kid, and to go a whole year and have it pay off it’s really a rewarding feeling.”
On winning the title on the 1-year anniversary of Andy Irons death:
“It’s sort of weird. I was just thinking that a lot of things have come together. With this happening on the anniversary of Andy passing. It makes it more special. It’s a way to celebrate my memories of him.”
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