Kelly Slater clinches historic 10th ASP World Tour title
"I feel relieved, honestly," Slater said. "It’s been the most stressful title I’ve ever had, because it’s sort of an unknown place and you know at my age people say 'you shouldn’t be doing this.'"
With his victory over Brazil's Adriano de Souza in the quarterfinals, the 38-year-old Floridian amassed enough points to move out of reach of remaining contender Jordy Smith, of South Africa, and collect the 2010 ASP World championship title, culminating a 20-year effort.
"I don’t know, it just happened," Slater said. "If you look at the heat, Adriano passed one up and let me have it and that was a good wave and that was pretty much it a few minutes into the heat. I just want to send my condolences to Irons family. It’s been a week of extremes for me. If it wasn’t for Andy [Irons] there is no way I’d be here in this position right now. I don’t really know what else to say, I’m a little overwhelmed right now. I want to dedicate this to Andy and to my family."
The 32-year-old Irons, a three-time ASP World champion, died unexpectedly Tuesday en route back home to Kauai, Hawaii, from the Rip Curl Pro Search. His death reportedly was connected to a bout of dengue fever he had contracted.
"I had the third at Teahupoo and Jordy got the 17th, at the time I really wanted to win that event and pull into the lead, but having Andy win that contest was really special," Slater said.
Slater, who spent a large portion of his youth in Puerto Rico, had family and friends on hand to witness the incredible feat as well as the support of the tens of thousands in attendance on the beach.
"It’s nice to win this in Puerto Rico with my friends and family here," Slater said. "I haven’t been surfing here on this part of the island since '88 and I used to come here a lot. This was like a second home to me and I have a lot of good friends from here. It’s the closest event ever to my home, so it feels like home."
-- Kelly Burgess
Photo: Kelly Slater clinched a 10th ASP World title Saturday at the Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico. Credit: Kirstin Scholtz / ASP