Tag Archives: kelly slater

ASP World Surfing Tour Comes to San Francisco November 1st through the 12th

 

By Connor Buestad

Attention folks: Kelly Slater (former “Baywatch” guest-star/current Pro Surf King) is on his way to the Sunset District of San Francisco. He’ll arrive in roughly 13 days (Nov. 1) and he plans on staying for a couple of weeks depending on the weather. #Kowabunga?

Yes, this is kind of a big deal. Especially for a city in which a day at the beach usually consists of a down jacket, a cup of Joe, and little else. Slater, as you may have heard, holds his sport’s honor of being the “Michael Jordan of Surfing”. The man is now 39 years old and has accumulated 10 ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) World Tour titles over his long and distinguished career. Come early next month, Slater will likely seal his 11th World Title on the shores of the San Francisco Bay. Turns out, you’re invited as well, free of charge.

The ASP World Tour consists of 11 events around the world. This year, San Francisco was a surprise selection to be one of the hosts. SF will be the 10th stop on this year’s tour that has been zigzagging across to the globe to places like Portugal, South Africa, and French Polynesia. Somehow, San Francisco got looped into this list of exotic locales, but I suppose nobody is complaining.

Rip Curl will be sponsoring the event, thus the contest name “Rip Curl Pro Search”. Between November 1-12, event officials will decide on the four best surfing days to hold the contest. Each morning at 7:30am, the public will be notified if the event will be taking place that day, with the first heat typically starting at 8am. Ocean Beach is a notoriously fickle surf spot that is hard to predict even on its most predictable days. Fortunately, early November usually calls for an array of glassy, tasty barrels, so let’s hope 2011 is no different.

Photo by Nate Lawrence

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Mavs Goes Mental; Contest A No-Go

By Garrett Wheeler

After a slow start to the ’09-’10 surf season, the N-Pac is now wide awake thanks to the back-to-back mega-swells that slammed Hawaii and the mainland West Coast within a two week period. The first swell arrived in California around Thanksgiving, and was a fitting precursor to what the surf world has dubbed Monster Monday.

On Monday, December 7 things got heavy on the North Shore as Waimea Bay held solid 40-footers for those brave enough to risk life and limb. Aussie legend Tom Carroll was among those to feel the wrath of the Bay, suffering a broken leg and ankle after an exploding lip detonated on top of him. Two days later, after the Eddie ran in perfect 25-foot Waimea on December 8, the swell hit California and our very own big-wave spot went absolutely mental. Here’s a glimpse of what the action looked like at Mavs on the morning of December 9:

Half Moon Bay's hell-wave gets evil on Dec. 9, 2009.

And the contest? No-sir. Contest directors gave two reasons for not giving the green light on Wednesday: the possibility of sub-par conditions and the fact that most of the world’s big wave contingent was in Hawaii having just surfed the Eddie the day prior. As far as excuses go, well, I guess I’m half-buyin’ it. As you can see by the photo above , conditions were A-quality, but the fact that Grant “Twiggy” Baker, Greg Long (who won the Eddie, by the way), and even Flea were a half an ocean away on Oahu was surely a bit of a problem. Could the surfers have boarded the red-eye Aloha Airlines flight and made it to HMB by 8am Wednesday morning? Sure. But did they want to?Probably not, as the decision to run the contest ultimately comes down to a vote by the surfers themselves.

Ocean Beach has also been going ballistic, and for those of us who don’t wax up 10 foot guns on giant swells, there were plenty of thrills up in SF. I’ll leave you with a little pic of the same day as above, at OB.

Cold, yes. But well worth a little ice-cream to nab one of these suckers.

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Santa Barbara’s Bobby Martinez takes Chopes…Again

Bobby Martinez gets shacked on his way to a win at the Billabong Pro 2009 Tahiti.

Bobby Martinez gets shacked on his way to a win at the Billabong Pro 2009 Tahiti.

By Garrett Wheeler

Backing up his 2006 victory at Teahupo’o, Santa Barbara goofy-footer Bobby Martinez once again came away with a win at the notorious Tahitian death-slab, taking out Australian Taj Burrow in the final heat. The event ran in less-than-stellar conditions, with semi-clean 3 to 5 foot surf on tap throughout the week. Chopes is famous for its massive days, when the wave produces left-hand barrels square enough to drive a school-bus through, with a lip as fat as the tube is wide. But for the sixth straight year, the contest yielded relatively average surf- nonetheless an exciting venue for the world’s best to duke it out.

The story of the contest was definitely all about the upsets, with everyone from this year’s frontrunner Joel Parkinson to Kelly Slater and Andy Irons getting eliminated midway through the contest. 23 year old Aritz Aranburu, a Basque-Country surfer ranked second to last, became the event’s official giant slayer, taking out Dane Reynolds, former event winner Damien Hobgood, Aussie Tom Whitaker, and finally Kelly Slater en route to an appearance in the semi-final. Watching the live Webcast, I heard Mark Occhilupo (known as Occy in the surfing world) comment that the contest had to be “one of the most bizarre contests in ASP history, I reckon”. Whatever you reckon, Occ.

Viewers lucky enough to be watching the mid-round heat of Mick Fanning versus Benn Dunn were treated to the best of what professional surfing has to offer. Needing a last-minute score in order to advance against Dunn, Fanning took off on a buzzer-beater wave that turned out to be one of the best sets of the day, doubling up over the reef and yielding an overhead tube. Fanning threw himself over the ledge, drop-knee stalled inside the barrel and got spit out twenty yards down the line, earning the highest score of the heat and a berth into the next round.

Bobby M. is quickly gaining a rep as one of the best Chopes surfers in the world, capable of getting shacked on nearly any size wave. Funny that he grew up surfing one of the best rights in the world (Rincon) – wonder where he learned how to ride left-hand tubes? Strand? Pipe? Guess that’s kind of like asking where Slater learned to ride big waves- not Florida, that’s for sure.

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Parko Wins Another- Do We Care?

We might now care much about pro surfing, but Bay Area surfers still love to watch Dane Reynolds surf Chopes.

We might not care much about pro surfing, but Bay Area surfers still love to watch Dane Reynolds surf Chopes.

 

 

 

Last week, Aussie surfer Joel Parkinson won his second straight WCT event at Bells Beach, starting the 2009-10 season with back-to-back victories over the’07 World Champ Mick Fanning, and more notably, last year’s winner Kelly Slater. But the question is: does anybody really care?

 

In the world of professional surfing, Parko’s win is big news. He’s two for two thus far, and miles ahead in the point ratings, leading Mick Fanning and Fred Patachia by a long shot. Parko is yet to win a world title, though the regular footer’s unbelievably smooth style and likable personality have made him a fan favorite on the Gold Coast for years. But what about in the Bay Area? Does he have any fans here?

 

It’s tough to relate to the Australians in terms of caring about pro-surfing; after all, Australia is home base to the multi-billion dollar (really, it is) surf industry, and surfing as a sport ranks second in national popularity behind rugby. Look on a map and you’ll see that every major city on the continent is near the coast, geographically engraining a beach lifestyle, and ultimately surfing, into the Australian way of life.

 

American’s, and specifically Bay Area surfers, aren’t totally uninterested in pro surfing. Take Kelly Slater. True, the 9-time world champion is probably better known to the collective public for his role in Baywatch and for dating Pam Anderson, but that doesn’t take away the fact that he’s the 9-time world champion. The Champ, as he’s known in some circles, is unarguably the greatest surfer of all time, competitively and otherwise, still capable of mutilating any size wave at any spot in the world- at age 37 no less. The greatest surfer of all time happens to be from Florida. Not exactly the Bay Area, but still, he’s an American, and for that, we can be proud of all that he’s accomplished.

 

On a slightly more localized scale, the state of California is home to some of the greatest professional surfers of the past and present. Tom Curren, Slater’s direct predecessor, is from Santa Barbara, and there are a handful of California guys on tour now, including the most exciting young surfer on the planet, Dane Reynolds. Reynolds grew up in Ventura, though yearly trips to Santa Cruz prove that he’s not afraid of cold water, and the kid is as innovative a surfer as the sport has ever seen. Bay Area surf fans should, and do root for Reynolds as he dukes it out with the big guns on a monthly basis.

 

Aside from the hype, or lack thereof, surrounding the Association of Professional Surfing (ASP) here in the Bay Area, we do represent an interesting niche geographically. Only a short drive south lies one of California’s surfing hotbeds, Santa Cruz. Surf City North (as opposed to Huntington Beach) boasts some of the best waves, and surfers, on the west coast. The pro-minded influence certainly seeps into the lineups of Ocean Beach, and of course Mavericks. Though it’s rare to see a Santa Cruz pro out at Ocean Beach even on a perfect day, all Bay Area surfers inevitably make the drive to Santa Cruz’s point breaks on a semi-regular basis.

 

The Cold Water Classic at Steamer Lane is one of the more prestigious WQS events, and pros from all over the world fly into San Jose to take a crack at the perfect rights created by the famed break. But still, there’s something distinctly different once you drive and hour north. The surf is colder, bigger, and windier, and the surfers are fewer. Not many guys have stickers on their boards, and not many guys boost huge airs. All in all, the geographical features of this stretch of coast produce an atmosphere that is less concerned with pro surfing than with ice-cream headaches, blown-out surf, and the ominous presence of the man in the grey suit. But that doesn’t mean we can’t root for Dane when he’s battling a couple of Aussies halfway across the world.

 

 

 

 

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