Kelly Slater (USA), 40, reigning 11-time ASP World Champion and current ASP WCT No. 2, was eliminated in Round 3 of the Rip Curl Pro Portugal today by current ASP WCT No. 32, Raoni Monteiro (BRA), 30, in challenging three-to-five foot (1 – 1.5 metre) waves at Supertubos.
“It’s really hard out there today,” Slater said. “I surfed for 15 minutes after my heat and still didn’t get any good waves. I don’t know what to say, it’s just luck of the draw sometimes. If you get in the right sort of current, or out of the wrong current, and you find a little corner that’s not really a set, maybe you can do something with it. It’s tough, but Julian (Wilson) just got a 10 so say what you want. In 45 minutes (30 minute heat and 15 minutes after), I didn’t score over a 3. I’m just a little upset at myself for even bothering. I shouldn’t even have paddled out to be honest. I should have said it’s so bad we couldn’t surf, but Joel (Parkinson) was getting 6s and 7s and they’re probably looking at the clock saying we have to get this thing done. I didn’t talk to Damien (Hardman) before the heat, and I didn’t really talk to any of the surfers. I just sort of walked out and said I guess we’re surfing…my bad.”
Today’s surprise elimination opens up the 2012 ASP World Title Race for fellow frontrunners Joel Parkinson (AUS), 31, Mick Fanning (AUS), 31, and John John Florence (HAW), 20, currently sitting at 1st, 3rd and 4th respectively on the ASP WCT rankings.
“That was a key heat,” Slater said. “It’s that round you really want to get through because there are so many more points on offer for the next round. It’s just making one more heat and you get two opportunities in the next one. If that were a three-man round heat and it was that bad, you’d say it doesn’t matter because you don’t lose. It’s frustrating to go down without being able to get out-surfed or get the chances to out-surf someone else. Joel (Parkinson), Mick (Fanning) and John John (Florence) are really good in these conditions. John John is super sneaky in these kind of waves, and I expect Mick to find his waves also.”
The 2012 ASP World Title will be awarded to the surfer with the best eight out of 10 ASP WCT results by year’s end. Slater currently carries three event wins (Fiji, Trestles and France), but also a 25th for an absence in Brazil and now two 13ths (Tahiti, Portugal) – today’s result will hamper his campaign for the ASP World Title.
“When you start throwing stuff away, the problem is that I’m going to be carrying a 13th now,” Slater said. “It’s really minimum points, and it opens up 8,000 points or something for someone to get ahead of me now. It’s just the way it is, and maybe it will make for a better finish to the year. It could become exciting. I’m kind of sneakily up there at the top with the wins, but I was carrying a couple bad results already and now I’m definitely going to be carrying one of those three by the end of the year. It’s a little frustrating, but it might make it more interesting in the long run.”
While frustrated by today’s outcome, Slater remains philosophical about the road ahead and the final two events of the season: the O’Neill Cold Water Classic in Santa Cruz and the Billabong Pipeline Masters in Hawaii.
“It’s not the end of the world,” Slater said. “Nobody died, I just lost a heat. It’s a bummer for me, but it’s just the way it is. There’s only one way to go at Santa Cruz for me. I’ve surfed there once and I got last in my first heat, it was in 1994 I think. We’ll see what happens. If there are waves, there will be plenty of opportunities to surf your heat, but I do expect to have to deal with the high-tide heats and a lot of backwash, and if it’s small it’ll be hard against the cliff. There’s not a lot of variety that can be done on those waves when it’s high tide and full and small, but if we get swell there’s plenty of little corners in the middle. You can expect the goofyfooters to be going left and doing big airs in the wind. I hear there’s a chance we could actually move up to Ocean Beach, so we’ll see what happens. It’s wide open at this point.”
Slater will next compete at the O’Neill Cold Water Classic in Santa Cruz from November 1 – 11, 2012.
Check out the final day of the Rip Curl Pro Portugal LIVE via http://live.ripcurl.com