This past week Ocean Beach hosted what would turn out to be one of the most exciting surf contests of the Associated Surfing Professionals World Tour, the Rip Curl Pro Search. Not only where the conditions at Ocean Beach some of the best they have been but the weather also shaped up for most of the occasion and Kelly Slater was attempting to clinch his 11th world title.
The Rip Curl Pro Search event is unique to the ASP World Tour because it features a floating license, which means that it can move to a new location every year. Having the contest at Ocean Beach during November presented some obvious risks including weather conditions, wave conditions and even some problems with great white sharks. Because of these inherent risks the contest is set up as a 12-day waiting period with four full days of competition. Each day at 7:30 am the decision will be made for either an 8 am start time, a delayed start time based on improving conditions or a lay day without surfing. This ensures that the conditions will be the best they can possibly be to provide great surfing in a safe environment.
Featured in the event are the top 34 surfers on the ASP World Tour along with 2 wildcards to set up a 36-man roster. The biggest names in the contest included Joel Parkinson, Dane Reynolds, Taj Burrow, John John Florence, Mick Fanning and the legendary Kelly Slater.
The contest began on Tuesday November 1st with beautiful weather and nicely formed 3-5 foot swell. As expected Slater surf incredibly with sharp cutbacks and awe-inspiring barrels. He scored a 16.03 to win his heat consisting of two Australians Kai Otton and Dean Brady. The only black mark on the otherwise beautiful day was when Hawaiian surfer Dusty Payne spotted a big dark fin sticking three feet out of the water coming straight for him. Payne immediately left the water and took a score of 0.0 for the round.
Day 2 was another beautiful day at Ocean Beach with lots of great surf to go around. It started off with a ceremonial paddle out to remember the death of surfing great Andy Irons who died one year ago today. Owen Right was the standout surfer of the day proving his number 2 ASP World ranking with a near perfect 9.77 out of 10. The biggest news of the day was yet to come until Kelly Slater was wrongly awarded his 11th ASP World title. Over the next two days the ASP realized that they had prematurely given the title to Slater even though in reality Owen Wright still had a chance to win. Slater still needed to win one more round in the Rip Curl Pro Search in order to win the title.
In round 4 on November 6 Slater did just that winning his 11th title in style with an incredible run. Slater got 17.17 points to beat out Brazilian youngsters Miguel Pupo (19 years old) and Gabriel Medina (17 years old) and rode out of a close out barrel to end his round.
The last day of the contest was Monday November 7 and included the quarters, semis and finals of the contest. In the end 17 year old Brazilian Gabriel Medina would take home the trophy beating Joel Parkinson in the finals. It was a huge victory for the young surfer who has only one other ASP Tour victory.