Quiksilver athlete Kelly Slater (Cocoa Beach, Florida) won his eighth world surfing championship on Friday in Mundaka, Spain. With wins at the first two contests of the ASP World Championship Tour and consistent top five finishes the rest of the season, Slater’s victory at Mundaka culminates yet another incredible season for the surfer and further solidifies his place as one of the greatest surfers of all time.
Tensions were high going into the European leg of the WCT with Australians Joel Parkinson, Taj Burrow, Mick Fanning and three-time world champion Andy Irons chasing after Slater. As reported in the Australian press, good friends Parkinson and Fanning had made a pact to prevent Slater from winning the title. Keeping true to their word and putting up a good fight, they took first and second at the Quiksilver Pro France last month. But Burrow, Irons, and Fanning went down in the late rounds of the Mundaka contest leaving only a semifinal match-up with Parkinson in the way of Slater’s title.
Scoring a handful of the heat’s better waves and powerfully maneuvering through the sections, Slater handily defeated his competition with a total wave score of 16.5 to officially clinch his eighth world title. He joined Parkinson and his other rivals on the beach for a brief celebration before surfing in the final against longtime friend, Bobby Martinez. Martinez (Santa Barbara, California), who has idolized Slater his entire life, won the exchange, but the real winner of the day was, without a doubt, Slater.
“I woke up early today, and I was really calm. I felt like it was going to happen today,” said Slater during a press conference immediately following the awards ceremony. “I put everything I had into my best wave in my heat with Joel. My muscles were aching and tired on that wave, but I knew it was going to win me the heat and the title.”
Slater catapulted on to the scene in the early 1990s, captivating the world with his groundbreaking and innovative surfing skills. He won the world title a record six times between 1992 and 1998. Last year, seven years after his last title, Slater made one of the greatest comebacks in the history of sports to win a highly emotional seventh world title in Brazil. But Slater, a fierce competitor even at 34 years of age, showed no sign of stopping after breaking his own records and becoming the youngest and oldest to take the crown. Instead, he confidently rode the momentum of the roller coaster 2005 season and clinched back-to-back titles this year by consistently surfing with his trademark combination of unprecedented focus, skill and style.
“Kelly’s seventh world title last year was a really emotional and deeply satisfying experience for all of us,” said Quiksilver CEO, Bob McKnight. “We all rode the roller coaster with him and shared his tears of joy and relief when he finished that spectacular season and secured the title in Brazil. This year has been a lot more fun! Slater has been in perfect form all season, starting with the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, and we have been celebrating with him every step of the way. Kelly is one of the best athletes in the world. He makes the impossible look so easy. He competes intensely and wins graciously. We are proud to have him in our family, and we look forward to whatever he has in store for us.”
Photo Credit: ASP COVERED IMAGES, Photographer: Peter Hamblin