Oops! Not so fast, mister

2011-11-05 16:55

The Association of Surfing Professionals has been forced into an embarrassing admission that it made a mistake this week when it declared Kelly Slater had won this year’s world title.

The American was presented with his 11th world title on Tuesday after he won his third-round heat at the world tour event in San Francisco, and association officials calculated he had an unbeatable lead over his nearest rival, Owen Wright, in the season points race.

But the association revealed on Friday they had made a mistake with their calculations of tiebreaks and the 39-year-old Slater was not yet assured of the title. “This was a mistake,” the association’s world tour manager Renato Hickel said on Friday.

“In the end, we’re responsible for this and should be held accountable.”

The good news for Slater is that he is still very close to winning the title while Wright has a slim mathematical chance of snatching the crown. Slater needs to win one more heat, either at San Francisco or the season-ending event in Hawaii, to be assured of the title.

If he fails to win another heat, the only way Wright can overtake him is if he wins the last two events, then beats Slater in a “surf-off”.

Slater, far and away the most successful surfer the sport has seen, became the youngest man to win the world title when he won his first in 1992, aged 20.

He won five in a row between 1994 and 1998, eclipsing Australian Mark Richards’s record of five world titles. He retired in 1999 but made a comeback in 2002 and went on to win world titles in 2005, 2006, 2008 and last year to become the oldest world champion. 

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