TEAHUPOâO, Taiarapu/French Polynesia (Monday, August 29, 2011) â Kelly Slater (USA), 39, reigning 10-time ASP World Champion, has claimed the Billabong Pro Tahiti presented by Air Tahiti Nui over Owen Wright (AUS), 21, in clean four-to-six foot (1.5 â 2 metre) waves at Teahupoâo.
Event No. 5 of 11 on the 2011 ASP World Title season, the Billabong Pro Tahiti culminated a historic incarnation of the event today, with the worldâs best surfers pushing the performance envelope in incredible conditions.
Slater began to really pick up steam in todayâs conditions, dispatching of an in-form Josh Kerr (AUS), 27, in the Semifinals before meeting lethal goofy-footer Wright in the Finals. The iconic American utilized his superior backhand tube-riding technique to post an 18.43 heat total out of a possible 20, which would prove too much for his younger opponent to overcome.
âI felt like I finally hit my stride in the Semifinals this morning,â Slater said. âIn the Final, I fell on a couple of waves that were maybe better than what I ended up getting scored on. It put the pressure on me, and took the pressure off him (Wright). He got that really big one at the end that could have gotten pretty close to the score. These are the best conditions this event has ever run in. Itâs been a phenomenal week.â
Coming into Tahiti rated No. 6 on the ASP World Title rankings, Slaterâs win today rockets the Floridian to the No. 1 spot after a number of top seeds suffered early eliminations at the hands of an unmerciful Teahupoâo.
âItâs one of those weird events where you have to scramble through the early rounds,â Slater said. âEvery year at this event, there are few of the top guys that lose in the early rounds and you have to scramble if you want a result here. You have to be in tune with the tides, swell direction and everything to make sure you get those waves that get you the score.â