On a rainy day along the north coast of Spain, occasional Montecito resident Kelly Slater clinched his unprecedented ninth ASP world title this week.
Having already won five of the first eight contests on the 11-stop World Championship Tour, the 36-year-old regular foot from Florida needed only to advance a few rounds in the contest currently underway in Spain in order wrap up his title. Early Friday morning, he did just that, beating out hometown Basque surfer Eneko Acero in the dredging left-hand barrels of Mundaka. Though the contest still has several more rounds to go before it’s complete, it was put on hold after Slater’s early round victory so the undisputed greatest-competitive-surfer-of-all-time could be crowned.
A part-time Montecito resident since late last winter, Slater now lays claim to not only nine world titles – the next closest is Australia’s Mark Richards with four – but he is also:
- the ASP’s youngest world champ ever, a feat he pulled off at age 20 in 1992;
- the oldest ever, at 36 in 2008;
- the winning-est surfer ever to compete on tour, a distinction he took from Santa Barbara’s full-time resident Tom Curren;
- the most contest wins of all time, which he also snagged from 39-year-old Curren
- the highest single heat total of all time, which was a perfect 20 in Tahiti back in 2005;
- and the most event wins in a single season.
As fellow Montecito resident and former world champion Shaun Tompson commented during the Santa Barbara International Film Festival last year, “In the sport of surfing, there is no one like Kelly Slater.”