Rip Curl Pro Portugal 2010: Kelly Slater Claims 44th Victory

When it comes to winning elite surfing competitions, Kelly Slater is a master. The Rip Curl Pro Portugal marks yet another win for Slater on his way to an unimaginable tenth ASP World Championship victory.

Rip Curl Pro Portugal.  Photo: ASP/ScholtzThe results are in and Kelly Slater never ceases to impress. Not only is he the former nine-time ASP World Champion and current ASP World No. 1, but he has also just claimed his 44th elite tour victory. After being defeated by Slater at the 2010 Rip Curl Pro Portugal, Jordy Smith will remain the ASP World No. 2.

The Rip Curl Pro Portugal is the eighth stop of the 2010 ASP World Tour and the world's surfing elite will make two more stops on their way to the 2010 ASP World Title.

Although composed and relatively under-the-radar throughout the Rip Curl Pro Portugal, Slater struck stealthily in the Final, locking in two solid backhand waves in the shifting conditions, and staving off a late charge from the young South African.

“It was actually a pretty slow Final” Slater said. “Neither of us could get a solid wave. Jordy Smith has all the talent in the world and he’s capable of getting a score at any time. It wasn’t over until the horn blew.”

En route to an unprecedented 10th ASP World Title, the iconic Floridian moves one step closer to clinching, with a strong possibility of doing so in the upcoming event.

“It’s obviously a very big deal for me,” Slater said. “If it happens, it will be a major accomplishment for me in my life. I’m fortunate to have an amazing circle of friends around me: my girlfriend Kalani, Belly (Stephen Bell), Travis (Lee) and a bunch of others. Today’s win puts me another step closer and we’ll see what happens in Puerto Rico.”

Smith fought valiantly throughout the 40-minute Final, posting the highest single-wave score of a 7.10 of a 10 for a backhand Superman air, but was unable to find a worthy backup score.

“I guess I felt a little out of rhythm in the Final,” Smith said. “I was able to notch up one good one, but couldn’t find a backup. That’s the way it goes sometimes. I’m still happy with the result and the way my year has gone so I’m just staying positive and we’ll see how we end up.”

The last one remaining in the hunt for the 2010 ASP World Title, Smith acknowledges the tall feat that lies ahead and is philosophical when discussing the remainder of the season.

“I’ve had a blast here in Portugal,” Smith said. “We’ve had some really fun waves. I was stoked to be in the Final with Kelly (Slater). I’m stoked to be in the race still with him. He’s someone I’ve looked up to my whole life and it’s an honor to be up there in the rankings next to him. I’m looking forward to the next event and hope we get some more fun wedges.”

Mick Fanning, reigning ASP World Champion and current ASP World No. 3, bowed out of Rip Curl Pro Portugal competition in Round 3 of competition, and with Slater’s victory today, has also bowed out of the 2010 ASP World Title Race.

The 2010 ASP World Title Race will head towards Puerto Rico for the next stop on the ASP Dream Tour. Jeremy Flores matched his best result of the year today, posting an Equal 3rd at the Rip Curl Pro Portugal.

Unable to overtake a rampaging Smith in their Semifinal bout, Flores remained content with his result, moving from 20th to 15th on the ASP World Title Race rankings.

“It’s been a good contest for me for sure,” Flores said. “I’ve been readjusting my approach to surfing and focusing on the things that work best for me. I think it helped a lot here in Portugal and I’m stoked with moving up on the rankings.”

The 2010 ASP World Tour will continue at the Rip Curl Pro Search in Puerto Rico from October 30 to November 10, 2010.

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