HUNTINGTON BEACH, California/USA (Monday, April 9, 2012) – Reigning 11-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (Cocoa Beach, FL), 40, has eclipsed Taj Burrow (AUS), 33, as the frontrunner for the 2012 ASP World Title with his runner-up finish at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach.
The iconic Floridian was on fire at Australia's famed righthand pointbreak, consistently stringing together heroic performances in each heat as he marched to the Final. Despite posting a flawless 10-point ride for a monster full-rotation 360 air in his battle for the crown, Slater's run to the top was stopped short by a rampaging Mick Fanning (AUS), 30, by a final score of 18.80 to 18.07, both out of 20.
"I was moving around trying to get active and I was just finding my feet," Slater said. "I knew Mick (Fanning) was going to be real patient. I knew he got that start and then I tried to talk to him and he put his serious head on and pissed me off, so I thought I'd throw a big rotator on him and it wasn't enough. That was pretty exciting for me. Even when he had the 9 and 8-something, I had a feeling I was in it. I felt like something good was going to come my way and it started to. I had one more chance and that was about it. I knew it was going to be a bit of a struggle with the waves out there, with the long intervals and long lulls, but that's just the way it goes."
Slater is coupling his runner-up finish at Bells Beach with an equal 5th place finish at the season opening Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, giving him a 1,200 point lead over current ASP World Championship Tour No. 2, Adriano de Souza (BRA), 25.
Lakey Peterson (Santa Barbara, CA), 17, was a standout in the firing conditions throughout the week at Bells Beach, relegating four-time ASP Women's World Champ Stephanie Gilmore to Round 2 via her opening round victory and charged on to the Quarterfinals. Peterson would eventually fall to event winner Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 21, to take an equal 5th place result overall.
"The conditions were pretty tricky out there for us with not a lot of waves coming through in that heat," Peterson said after her Round 1 win. "Steph (Gilmore) is such a force out there and to advance ahead of her at a spot like Bells is great for confidence."
Peterson was the top American finisher at the Rip Curl Women's Pro Bells Beach.
The next event on the 2012 ASP World Championship Tour will be the Billabong Rio Pro in Brazil from May 9 through 20, 2012. The next event on the ASP Women's World Championship Tour is the TSB Bank NZ Surf Festival featuring the Dow AgroSciences Pro, which runs from April 11-15, 2012.