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Kelly Slater, experimenting along the way, advances to fourth round in Brazil

July 2, 2009 |  1:31 pm

News flash: Kelly Slater has advanced to the fourth round of the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro in Brazil.

It's news because Slater, the most dominant competitive surfer of all time and the reigning and nine-time world champion, had not gotten beyond the second round in the first three ASP World Tour contests.

He came into the fourth contest ranked No. 25 in the world but has looked like the Slater of old despite experimenting with equipment during competition.

He defeated Australia's Ben Dunn today in 3- to 4-foot waves, and will face Australia's Tom Whitaker in the fourth round.

In the second round, Slater, 37, used a self-shaped, asymmetrical quad-fin, raising eyebrows among his rivals. “I seem to be riding a new board every time I go for a surf,” Slater said. “This one I just rode was an epoxy swallow-tail and seemed to go really well in these conditions. I’ve pretty much just been cruising and testing out some equipment.”

It's doubtful Slater will win a 10th world title this year. Counting the Brazil contest there are only seven remaining. He'd have to register a string of victories to have a chance. But if anyone can do that -- and if anyone can win a contest while experimenting with new equipment -- it's Slater.

“I obviously haven’t had the results I desired this season, so a lot has to happen for me to even be in the running for the world title,” he said. “But I guess that takes the pressure off for me at these events. I go into heats and I’m more looking to play the spoiler than net a result myself. I’m stoked to be getting through heats though. This is my best result of the year already and we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

-- Pete Thomas

Video: Second-round highlights. Credit: ASP