Slater Bests Smith to Claim Rip Curl Pro Portugal, ASP Title Race Heads to Puerto Rico
SUPERTUBOS, Peniche/Portugal - Kelly Slater (USA), 38, former nine-time ASP World Champion and current ASP World No. 1, has collected his 44th elite tour victory, besting current ASP World No. 2, Jordy Smith (ZAF), 22, to take out the Rip Curl Pro Portugal in glassy three-to-five foot (1.5 metre) waves at Supertubos.
Event No. 8 of 10 on the 2010 ASP World Tour, the Rip Curl Pro Portugal played a vital role in the hunt for the 2010 ASP World Title and was privy to some of the most high-performance surfing the world has ever seen.
Although composed and relatively under-the-radar throughout the Rip Curl Pro Portugal, Slater struck stealthily in the Final, locking in two solid backhand waves in the shifting conditions, and staving off a late charge from the young South African.
“It was actually a pretty slow Final with neither of us getting any waves of consequence,” Slater said. “I was trying to stay busy but neither of us could get a solid wave. I actually nearly ended up reaching my wave maximum out there so I kind of had to slow down and try to wait for waves that mattered. Jordy (Smith) has all the talent in the world and he’s capable of getting a score at any time. It wasn’t over until the horn blew.”
En route to an unprecedented 10th ASP World Title, the iconic Floridian moves one step closer to clinching, with a strong possibility of doing so in the upcoming event.
“It’s obviously a very big deal for me,” Slater said. “If it happens, it will be a major accomplishment for me in my life. I’m fortunate to have an amazing circle of friends around me: my girlfriend Kalani, Belly (Stephen Bell), Travis (Lee) and a bunch of others. Today’s win puts me another step closer and we’ll see what happens in Puerto Rico.”
Smith fought valiantly throughout the 40-minute Final, posting the highest single-wave score of a 7.10 of a 10 for a backhand Superman air, but was unable to find a worthy backup score.
“I guess I felt a little out of rhythm in the Final,” Smith said. “I was able to notch up one good one, but couldn’t find a backup. That’s the way it goes sometimes. I’m still happy with the result and the way my year has gone so I’m just staying positive and we’ll see how we end up.”
The last one remaining in the hunt for the 2010 ASP World Title, Smith acknowledges the tall feat that lies ahead and is philosophical when discussing the remainder of the season.
“I’ve had a blast here in Portugal,” Smith said. “We’ve had some really fun waves. I was stoked to be in the Final with Kelly (Slater). I’m stoked to be in the race still with him. He’s someone I’ve looked up to my whole life and it’s an honor to be up there in the rankings next to him. I’m looking forward to the next event and hope we get some more fun wedges.”
Mick Fanning (AUS), 29, reigning ASP World Champion and current ASP World No. 3, bowed out of Rip Curl Pro Portugal competition in Round 3 of competition, and with Slater’s victory today, has also bowed out of the 2010 ASP World Title Race.
The 2010 ASP World Title Race will head towards Puerto Rico for the next stop on the ASP Dream Tour.
Jeremy Flores (FRA), 22, matched his best result of the year today, posting an Equal 3rd at the Rip Curl Pro Portugal. Unable to overtake a rampaging Smith in their Semifinal bout, Flores remained content with his result, moving from 20th to 15th on the ASP World Title Race rankings.
“It’s been a good contest for me for sure,” Flores said. “I’ve been readjusting my approach to surfing and focusing on the things that work best for me. I think it helped a lot here in Portugal and I’m stoked with moving up on the rankings. Hopefully I can get some more good results before the year is out.”
Chris Davidson (AUS), 33, took it to Slater in the Semifinal bout, putting the champ on the ropes until Slater pulled out an incredible Alley-Oop 360 for a 9.33 in the dying minutes to take the heat. Davidson’s Equal 3rd at the Rip Curl Pro Portugal marks his best result of the season, moving him from 17th to 13th on the ASP World Title Race rankings,
“What can you do when the King (Slater) pulls something like that?” Davidson said. “All I could do was salute him. It’s been a good event for me, and I felt like I surfed pretty well against Kelly, but when he goes and pulls a 360 Alley-Oop on a nothing wave, it’s hard to fight back. Hopefully someone can throw a wrench in the works and send the title race down to Pipeline.”
The next stop on the 2010 ASP World Tour will be the Rip Curl Pro Search in Puerto Rico from October 30 through November 10, 2010.
RIP CURL PRO PORTUGAL MEN’S FINAL RESULTS:
1 – Kelly Slater (USA) 13.33
2 – Jordy Smith (ZAF) 11.43