29 October 2011

World Championships on a wave

Ocean Beach Rip Curl Search

Five miles south of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California, 36 surfers from around the world are gathering this week to compete in the 10th of 11 competitions that will crown the 2011 World Champion of surfing. On a stretch of coastline known for it's cold temperatures, riptides and crazy breaks called Ocean Beach, organizers are setting up for the Rip Curl Search ASP World Tour to begin Tuesday, November 1, 2011, prize $425,000.
Competing in the event will be 34 of the best surfers in the world, plus two wild-cards. One of those best surfers will be Kelly Slater, only Kelly is The Best in the world. Age 39, Kelly Slater has already won 10 World Championships, his first was at age 20. If you ask any surfing fan "who is the legend of surfing?" they will surely answer Kelly Slater.
I am interested in any athlete who has the ability to dominate a sport. We all know the dedication, determination and luck involved in winning one championship. Subsequent wins proves the first was valid, but 10 wins - 10 championships should make everyone else wonder if they are playing in a different sport.
Unlike cycling where the championship is earned in one chance, one day, once a year, surfing is an accumulative point championship over a test of mixed wave conditions in 11 events around the globe. One consistent individual giving his all throughout the 10 month professional surfing season yields the winner. The fact that Kelly Slater has been that one individual 10 times is simply marvelous. It took 20 years for him to get it done, but he is still going strong. Kelly Slater stands out in a crowd. Pictures of Kelly Slater competing in 2011, at age 39:
Kelly Slater
Kelly Slater
surfing photographers have to get in the water, cycling photographers do not get on the bike
Kelly Slater
About Kelly
Kelly Slater began his professional surfing career in 1991 finishing 43rd overall. The next year he was ASP World Champion. He subsequently won in 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010. Slater did not compete between 1999-2001, announcing his retirement after 6 titles, only to return to the sport after what is now called a sabbatical rather then a comeback. Slater also famously acted (without acting) on Baywatch during the 1992-1993 TV season (I'm not kidding, that would be like Mark Cavendish being on Dancing with the Stars).

His total career earnings from competition has been $3,030,755.00, plus a number of sponsorships, typical of any pro athlete, including Quicksilver and Channel Island Surfboards (now owned by Burton), FSC fins, and Komunity gear. He is currently developing a new technology at Wave Company to create indoor waves for surf parks. He supports the Kelly Slater Foundation for ocean protection. Born in 1972 in Cocoa Beach, Florida, USA, he calls Cocoa Beach, FL, Santa Barbara, CA, and Gold Coast, Australia home. @kellyslater
“It's all about where your mind's at” ~ Kelly Slater

10 Time Champions 

There are few athletes who have won ten championships. Emanuel Rego is a Brazilian beach volleyball player who has won ten world championships, with different partners. The Cuban baseball team has won the world championship 10 times, with different players. John Cena is an American wrestler and a 12 time world champion. Belgian Stefan Everts is a 10 time world motocross champion. Chris John of Indonesia is a 10 time world featherweight boxing champion. American Randy Savage was a 10 time world heavyweight champion. American Mike Sigal is a 10 time world champion pool player. American Michael Phelps has won 12 Olympic gold medals in swimming. 
In the world of cycling there is a four-way tie for the most Road World Championships Road wins at 3 each for Alfredo Binda (Italy) (1927, 1930, 1932), Rick Van Steenbergen (Belgium) (1949,1956,1957), Eddy Merckx (Belgium) (1967, 1971, 1974), and Óscar Freire (Spain) (1999, 2001, 2004). Popular cyclist Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) has won 4 Road World Championships Time Trials (2006, 2007, 2009, 2010). Eddy Merckx (Belgium) won a total of 11 Grand Tours, Bernard Hinault (France) won 10 Grand Tours, quite impressive, but not 10 World Championships. 

Kelly Slater Top 10 waves of 2012 (video)
Go watch the competition
I have always wished I could have seen Eddy Merckx or Miguel Indurain compete in cycling. You can watch this champion compete: Rip Curl Search event November 1-12, 2011, Ocean Beach, San Francisco, California. The competition will last a total of 27½ hours, but organizers have a 12-day window for the event to find the best waves depending on the conditions. Rip Curl Search official website, read the Event Guide. It looks like it might be aired Live online. 
Remove surfboard insert bicycle - the fans look the same
Kelly Slater recently in Portugal
Current Standings: Kelly Slater looks poised to win an 11th World Championship in surfing in December 2011.
Surfer Bios:
Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP):
Of the 37 top surfers listed at ASP, there are 15 Australians, 7 Brazilians, 7 Americans, 2 South African, 1 French, 1 Tahitian, 1 Portuguese, and 3 from Hawaii (which for some reason they don't consider as part of the United States).
surfing fans at the 2011 Quicksilver Pro Gold Coast in Australia
Next competition:
Schedule: The ASP World Tour's last competition was in Peniche, Portugal in October. Before Portugal they were in the southwest of France at the Quicksilver Pro in La Graviere, Hossegor, France. After Ocean Beach, California in November, the final competition event Bilabong Pipe Master ASP World Tour at Banzai Pipeline, Oahu, Hawaii, is set for December 8-20, 2011, prize $425,000, however the spread in points will be set by that date. Two months ago, the 11 part ASP World Tour passed through Long Island, New York, where the prize was $1,000,000 for the event. Even surfers make more than cyclists. I wonder how much a surfboard costs?
image from the ASP World Tour in France in October 2011
Update 11/03/11: Kelly Slater was crowned 11 time ASP World Champion Surfing. "So where do you rank an athlete who has dominated a sport for 11 seasons? An athlete who three months shy of his 40th birthday again became the youngest and oldest to ever win the title?" Cocoa Beach surfer wins his 11th world title at age 39Slater clinches 11th world title (this article has a video with automatic sound). He now heads to Hawaii to "relax," and will consider whether he participates in the tour in the future.