Article

Victory and Loss

| posted on November 06, 2010

Rip Curl Search Champion and 10-time World Champion, Kelly Slater: Photo: Ellis

Rip Curl Search Champion and 10-time World Champion, Kelly Slater: Photo: Ellis

I’m at a loss for words trying to express all the events, and resulting emotions that are going through my head right now. After a week of highs and lows like nothing I’ve ever had to process in my life, I find myself alone for the first time after another marathon day, searching for a way to honor the memory of one of my best friends, Andy Irons, and celebrate the triumph of another close friend, Kelly Slater.

During the moment of silence for Andy before the final, I shed a tear as I closed my eyes and saw Andy’s face. An hour later when I came out of the commentary booth—directly into a moment of elation with Kelly—I shed tears of joy.

Kelly battled a similar sea of emotions today. Andy and Kelly had become close in recent years, and their link in surfing history is even closer. During what was the crowning achievement of Kelly’s career he dedicated his 10th World Title to Andy and acknowledged that he wouldn’t have been competing long enough to get a 10th title if it wasn’t for Andy. He said all of this through glassy eyes.

Despite everything going on, we still had a contest to finish and a Rip Curl Pro Search champion to crown. Taj vs Dane was the most anticipated heat of the day and it didn’t disappoint. Both surfers performed exceptionally, but it was Taj’s superior wave choice and resulting tuberides, one even scoring a perfect 10, that sent Dane out of the competition, still waiting for his first World Tour win.

In the semi-finals Taj faced newly crowned 10-time world champ Kelly Slater. This heat saw a flurry of exciting surfing and big scores as Taj presented Kelly his only serious challenge today. If it wasn’t for two blown air-reverses near the end of the heat, Taj would’ve won. But as we’ve grown accustomed to seeing throughout the years, Kelly elevated his performance with every heat while his competitors seemed to peak too early or crack under pressure.

In the final up against new dad and rock-solid performer Bede Durbidge, Kelly found a clean, lined up insider that he was able to connect three critical maneuvers on. The last being a no-handed nearly full-rotation air-reverse that scored a perfect 10. Combined with multiple other dynamic rides, Kelly cruised to the victory and yet another celebration waiting for him on the beach.

This week will forever be remembered in the history of surfing for two vastly different reasons—Andy’s untimely passing, and Kelly’s record achievements. But together, the two most influential surfers of our time made us all aware of how fragile life can be and how important it is to celebrate every moment of joy we experience in our days.

Kelly reflects before entering the water for the heat that would ultimately clinch his 10th world title.Photo: Ellis

Kelly reflects on a tumultuous week before entering the water for his quarterfinal heat. Photo: Ellis

Kelly Slater on the wave the sealed his World Title. Photo: Ellis

Kelly Slater on the wave that ensured victory over quarterfinal opponent, Adriano de Souza. Photo: Ellis

Jordy congratulates Kelly on a battle well won. Photo: Ellis

Jordy Smith congratulates Kelly on a battle well won. Photo: Ellis

The greatest surfer that ever lived on the top of the world. Photo: Ellis

The greatest surfer ever on the top of the world yet again. Photo: Ellis

Mick Fanning showers the new World Champion. Photo: Ellis

More champagne from Quiksilver CEO, Bob McKnight. Photo: Ellis

More champagne from Quiksilver CEO, Bob McKnight. Photo: Ellis

With the Rip Curl Pro Title still up for grabs, Taj Burrow put on a brilliant display to defeat Dane Reynolds. Photo: Ellis

With the Rip Curl Pro trophy still up for grabs, Taj Burrow put on a brilliant display to defeat Dane Reynolds. Photo: Ellis

Despite being one of the form surfers of the event, he was once again denied of a tour victory. Photo: Ellis

Despite being one of the form surfers of the event, Dane Reynolds once again fell short in the final rounds. Photo: Ellis

Taj Burrow gave Slater his first real challenge of the day during the Semi Finals. Photo: Ellis

Taj Burrow gave Slater his first real challenge of the day during the Semis. Photo: Ellis

In a repeat of Trestles, Bede Durbidge faced Slater in the final. Photo: EllisBede Durbidge was rock-solid the entire event and claimed another second place finish. Photo: Ellis

Slater was unstoppable in Puerto Rico and finished the event off with a perfect 10 in the final. Photo: Ellis

Slater was unstoppable in Puerto Rico and finished the event off with a perfect 10 in the final. Photo: Ellis

Slats has pretty good reason to be excited. Photo: Ellis

Slats with cause for celebration. Photo: Ellis

The 2010 ASP World Champions, Kelly Slater and Stephanie Gilmore. Photo: Ellis

The 2010 ASP World Champions, Kelly Slater and Stephanie Gilmore. Photo: Ellis

RIP CURL PRO SEARCH PUERTO RICO FINAL RESULTS:
1. Kelly Slater (USA) 18.77
2. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.43

RIP CURL PRO SEARCH PUERTO RICO SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
SF 1:Kelly Slater (USA) 16.34 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 14.87
SF 2:Bede Durbidge (AUS) 15.87 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 10.36

RIP CURL PRO SEARCH PUERTO RICO QUARTERFINAL RESULTS:
QF 1:Taj Burrow (AUS) 16.50 def. Dane Reynolds (USA) 14.17
QF 2:Kelly Slater (USA) 18.87 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 14.36
QF 3:Michel Bourez (PYF) 13.50 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.10
QF 4:Bede Durbidge (AUS) 13.97 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 12.47

RIP CURL PRO SEARCH PUERTO RICO ROUND 5 RESULTS:
Heat 1:Taj Burrow (AUS) 14.70 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 11.40
Heat 2:Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.77 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 6.50
Heat 3:Michel Bourez (PYF) 11.20 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 9.73
Heat 4:Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.34 def. Chris Davidson (AUS) 7.37

CURRENT ASP WORLD TITLE RACE TOP 5 (After Puerto Rico)
1. Kelly Slater (USA) 66250 pts
2. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 52250 pts
3. Mick Fanning (AUS) 44750 pts
4. Taj Burrow (AUS) 40000 pts
5. Dane Reynolds (USA) 37250 pts

In loving memory of Andy Irons. Photo: Ellis

In loving memory of Andy Irons. Photo: Ellis

  • Julio

    Thankfor the guerrilla-style reporting on this emotional day for surfers.

  • http://www.behindthekeyboard.com Julio

    Emotions on land, water, and God only knows…

  • Chewymd

    Thx Rip Curl for providing history in the making and making it available to everyone around the world. Truly an awesome event.

  • MarkSisom

    Yesterday was the most memorable day of my surfing life and it had nothing to do with me.

  • Riley

    this is probably the most historic week in surfing steph won her 4 the title in a row, Andy Irons passed away, Kelly Slater won his 10th world title and 45 wct victory, i have never had such an eventfull week in my life… Who else thinks kelly should propose to kalani?

  • Marcelo

    Kelly elevated his performance with every heat while his competitors seemed to peak too early or crack under pressure. that’s about it…

  • http://facebook Lymarie Vega

    Cogratulations Kelly! We love you in Puerto Rico, me too!
    Andy the whole entire world love you 4 ever , Bless you Bruce!!!

  • phocas69

    Well written Shea, thanks for the great commentary.

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  • Cali J

    Also wanted to say thanks for the great coverage and commentary on the live webcast. Excellent job.

  • http://www.stanleysreef.org gary ross

    Sometimes someone comes along that we set as an example for us in some way. Kelly not only is beyond amazing in his surfing, he also has other things we can admire. He is touch with what is important and we can relate to him, he inspires the best in others, he is amazing human, great article.

  • Blake O

    Super human accomplishment to continue to perform at the level he’s maintained all these years. His committment to fitness and clean living has proven that the stars don’t have to shine brightly and then burnout. In light of the devastating loss of Andy Irons this may be his last tour unless he decides that he wants to take on the next generation of stars. It’s his decision to make but don’t put it past him to win again next year.

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  • paul

    Shea and every other surfer I read that commented on the weeks events were articulate , inspired and intelligent. Unbelieveable week!

  • al

    nice commentary. shea lopez did a fantastic job

  • SImon

    yo. good article.

  • Whamo

    The contest peaked on the last day, and the surfing was spectacular. I don’t see much difference between the surfers. Dane looked like the best, but not by much, as all ripped.