LOWER TRESTLES, Calif. – Reigning and 8X Foster’s ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) has won his first event in over a year, moved to current World No. 2, and broke a world record after beating Pancho Sullivan (HAW) in the Final of the 2007 Boost Mobile Pro presented by Hurley today.
“It’ll be nice to go and sit down and think about this one,” Slater said. “This will be a neat little tournament for my career. I’m a little bummed because I didn’t feel like I capitalized on the waves I had, and it was frustrating, but just to get that win was important. We had similar conditions to 1990 when I won out here, so it was pretty magical.”
The victory marks Slater’s 34th ASP World Tour win and earns him the record for the most elite tour event victories in history. Former three-time ASP World Champion Tom Curren (USA) set the record with his 33rd event win 16 years ago. Slater tied Curren with his 2006 Bells Beach victory and, despite featuring in four finals in the 16 months since, hadn’t broken the record until today.
“Part of me is kind of sad,” Slater said. “I was hoping Tom and I would end up on the same number forever, but somebody is bound to come along and get to where I got. You’ve got to surf to the standards, but someone else is always going to be coming along that has the time and desire.”
Slater has been in the last four Boost Mobile Pro finals. He finished runner-up in 2004 and 2006, and claimed wins in 2007 and in 2005. His win today puts him 230 points behind Foster’s ASP ratings leader Mick Fanning (AUS) and has positioned him as a strong contender for the 2007 World Title.
“Now I’ve almost got as many points as I had accrued last year,” Slater said. “I didn’t think I was that intensely focused this week, I felt calm and happy. We’ll see what happens in France. After this I could really capitalize on everything.”
Sullivan, who is into his sophomore year on tour, posted his best result to date with his runner-up finish to Slater. The powerful Hawaiian was a standout performer on the final day of competition, besting Neco Padaratz (BRA), Troy Brooks (AUS) and Jeremy Flores (FRA) on his way to meeting Slater in the Final. He needed a medium-scoring ride – a 6.98 – to take the heat from Slater.
“It was a little frustrating, especially needing such a small score at the end and having priority and not being able to do anything, but that’s the surfing competition,” Sullivan said. “I still made it to the Final and hopefully I can carry some momentum into Europe and keep improving. It was really inconsistent but there were a few moments where we saw some spectacular surfing. I think all in all it turned out to be a great event.”
Sullivan has jumped eight spots from World No. 16 to World No. 8 with his runner-up finish today.
“I feel really good to get a good strong result like this,” Sullivan said. “I feel like my preparation was really good, I’ve been to every event this year and my scores have been really good. I felt it was just a matter of time before everything clicked. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a really good opportunity in the Final, but next week is another event and hopefully I can keep going.”
Flores, 2007 Foster’s ASP World Tour rookie, put in a stunning finals day performance, attacking the roping Lowers righthanders with style, punch and bite. The Frenchman dispatched of Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA) and C.J. Hobgood (USA) en route to his first career Semifinal berth and 3rd place finish.
“I was so happy until that heat; it was the best result of my life,” Flores said. “I have been having the best time of my life. That was the worst way to lose, the worst way. I actually had a good wave, a real fun wave, and I surfed it bad the whole way. I couldn’t believe it, the waves were so good before my heat that I was jumping around, feeling so lucky that I was going to be able to surf man on man in those conditions. I was so, so stoked.”
Despite going down to Sullivan in the Semifinal, Flores has jumped to 9th on the Foster’s ASP World Tour – a move that puts him as the highest-rated rookie on the 2007 tour. Kai Otton (AUS) and Ben Dunn (AUS), rated 18th and 19th respectively, are his closest ‘Rookie of the Year’ competition.
Tom Whitaker (AUS) had to fend off countrymen Shaun Cansdell (AUS) and Ben Dunn (AUS) to meet Slater in the Semifinals, but the fleet-footed Australian was unable to match the Champ’s prowess.
“It’s disappointing, but its fun to surf against Kelly,” Whitaker said. “You’ve got to bring your A-game. He looks at waves that you think he should get a 6.0 or 7.0 but he makes them 8.0s and 9.0s. I caught a couple of edges and didn’t get my way.”
Whitaker’s equal 3rd finish today is a far cry from the two 33rd (last place) results he posted at the two world tour events previous to the Boost Mobile Pro. He’s moved to World No. 15 after the result.
“I dropped one of those 3s off the end of a 33rd, those were terrible,” Whitaker said. “It’s good to start the second half of the year off like that.”
The next stop on the Foster’s ASP World Tour will be the Quiksilver Pro France running from Sept. 20-30, 2007.
For more information, log on to www.aspworldtour.com