BANZAI PIPELINE, Hawaii (Friday, Dec. 12, 2008) – Nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) has won the Billabong Pipeline Masters a record sixth time today. The victory is Slater’s sixth of the 11 event 2008 ASP World Tour season.
"It’s inexplicable,” Slater said of his win and banner season. “I’m just stoked. I wasn’t even worried about surfing the event, so to surf it and win and get that board (a Gerry Lopez designed surfboard trophy). I’ll cherish that for sure."
Slater has made the Pipeline Masters final 10 out of the 17 times he has entered the event winning in 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1999 and again today. His 2008 win comes nine years after he last clinched the Pipeline crown in ‘99.
“My season is all about nines,” Slater said. “Winning this event nine years later, I needed a 9th in the ninth event of the year to win my 9th ASP World title, it’s crazy."
Slater paddled out in eight to 10 foot waves at Pipeline four times today, beating Chris Ward (USA) 14.00 to 7.23 in the in the first man-on-man final* held at the venue in eight years. Slater’s heat totals in the three heats prior to the final were 19.00, 18.63 and 19.40 – all out of a possible 20 points.
“It was disappointing that the waves didn’t really turn on for us in the final,” Slater said. “That’s what we are here for, to put on a show for people – at least give them some big wipeouts or something. In the final there weren’t too many waves, but I picked the right ones. It’s about time Wardo had a result like this though. He is one of the best barrel riders in the world.”
Ward’s final berth today is the second of his four-year ASP World Tour career. The Californian made the final of his first event on tour on the Gold Coast of Australia in 2005 but finished second there as well. His result today saw him jump from 27th to 14th on the year-end ratings.
"I placed better than last year and I would have loved that win but Kelly got all the good waves,” Ward said. “It was very hard out there, I think I missed a couple of good ones in the beginning but I am good. I’m happy."
Had Ward won the final, he would have won the 2009 Vans Triple Crown of Surfing title too. He ended up finishing third in the ASP Specialty Series that rewards the surfer with the best Hawaiian season performance across three events.
"It was a great feeling to be in reach of the Triple Crown,” Ward said. “I would definitely love to do it again in the future so I will try again."
Last year, Bede Durbidge became the first Australian to win the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Title since Mike Rommelse (AUS) in 1997. This year the honor went to Australia’s Joel Parkinson who finished 5th in the first two legs of the Triple Crown held at Haleiwa and Sunset Beach and 9th at the Billabong Pipeline Masters.
“I’ve come runner-up to the Triple Crown a couple of times,” Parkinson said. “Andy nabbed it from me both times, so no hard feelings to Wardo, but I really didn’t want that to happen again. It feels amazing to actually take it home this time.”
The victory is doubly sweet given Parkinson made headlines earlier in the week by earning the first-ever perfect 20 out of 20 heat total at Pipeline – only the second perfect heat total in ASP history under the two wave format.
"It’s been a good couple of days,” Parkinson said. Today could have been better for me in terms of the event, but I am happy."
The heat of the day was the semifinal clash between Slater and Timmy Reyes (USA). Reyes emerged from a deep right-hand barrel to earn a 9.10 and with six minutes to go, had Slater needing a combination of scores to win the heat. In true Slater fashion, the nine-time world champ scored a 9.00 and 10.00 in a space of three minutes to take the heat.
“I almost beat Kelly which is pretty rad,” Reyes said. “I can’t get mad losing at someone who has nine world titles and it was good to win a couple of heats out here in all-time conditions at one of my favorite waves in the world.”
Reyes finished the year rated 16th courtesy of his equal 3rd place today.
Ward beat Australian Adrian Buchan 16.46 to 10.16 in their semifinal bout. Buchan finished in the semifinals or better three out of the last four events, a feat that saw him rocket to World No. 6 in 2008. Buchan finished the season 19th in 2007 and 44th in 2006.
"That’s what this year was about,” Buchan said. “Stepping up and trying to crack the Top 10 and establish myself up there and I think I have done that. I am pretty confident and looking forward to a short break and then getting back into it. I’m looking forward to next year already, it’s going to be exciting."