Pro surfer Kelly Slater was crowned Association of Surfing Professionals champion for the 11th time on Wednesday -- a new world title record -- at the 2011 Rip Curl Pro Search in San Francisco, Calif.
Offshore winds whipped the tops off of a 4 to 6 foot northwest wave at Ocean Beach, but Slater still managed to tally a heat score of 15.13, eliminating Daniel Ross by .73 to clinch his record title.
It feels like the circle has been completed, said Slater. I knew somewhere in the back of my mind eleven was there, but I honestly don't think about twelve. I was born on 2/11 and now to win on 11/2, it's a weird coincidence and it does feel like the completion of something. It was a goal I set at the beginning of the year and luckily I got to it.
This is Slater's second consecutive ASP world title. It also comes a year to the day that his rival, three-time world champion Andy Irons died. Irons won three straight titles in 2002-2004, but none bigger than his 2003 showdown that saw him get the better of Slater in the final heat of the season.
I started thinking about Andy a couple days ago, said Slater. And today, it's like he's watching over us. We had a little memorial for him today, and now the waves, the weather, it just feels like he was watching over us. Emotionally it's still a very hard thing to reconcile with.
At 39 years-old Slater, who is from Cocoa Beach, Fla., is the youngest and oldest world champion in professional surfing. His first title came in '92. In his 20-year career, he's won a record 48 tour events, more than $3 million in prize money and, as mentioned before, eleven world titles.
Slater, with the San Francisco win, racked up four wins in 2011. He began the campaign with a win at the Quiksilver Pro in Australia. He would finish fifth and 13th at the next two events at Bells Beach, Australia and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, respectively. Then in July, instead of traveling to South Africa for the Billabong Pro at Jeffreys Bay, he opted to chase a massive south swell to Fiji and the island of Tavarua. Jordy Smith took home the title instead.
Then, in late August, Slater really stepped up his game after doubts that he would contend for a title. Despite a monumental south swell at the Billabong Pro Teahupoo in French Polynesia, Slater was able to come out on top. Now back in the title chase, but still far from the top spot, he would go on to finish second at the Quiksilver Pro in Long Island, New York, and win the Hurley Pro in California. His following second place finish at the Rip Curl Pro in Peniche, Portugal in early October all but sealed the deal.
Slater said that he can now relax going into the final event of the season in December-the Billabong Pipe Masters in Oahu, Hawaii and not worry about results.
I'm going to really have to consider if I'm going to do the tour after this, he said.
Check out the slideshow of some of Slater's surfing and accomplishments.