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Friday, November 4, 2011

World Surfing Champion x 11


Yesterday, I had to the opportunity to witness history in the making. We are in San Francisco, making one of our pilgrimages out West to visit my family and to let the boys spend some time with their Grandmother and cousins. It just so happened that Rip Curl chose to hold its annual Search contest in San Francisco this year...in November...when we were going to be in town.  When the news was announced a few months ago, I was super excited that the contest coincided with our visit. And then, a few weeks ago, after Kelly Slater came in second in Portugal and we learned that he could potentially clinch his 11th World Title in San Francisco, I was beyond stoked. He just needed to win two heats - just four good waves - and he would win a record 11th ASP World Surfing title.


I checked the surf forecast religiously, hoping that the swell would fill in and that the fickle San Francisco conditions would cooperate so that the contest would run during the first few days of the waiting period. And it did. Beautiful, uncharacteristic fall days in San Francisco. I mean like crisp blue skies, NO FOG in Ocean Beach, pumping waves and downright hot. We managed to convince my Mom and my brother to take the boys to the zoo in the morning so that we could head to the beach early. When we learned that Kelly would be surfing in Heat 6 of Round 3, around 2:30pm, I promised my Mom that we would be home by 4pm. There was no way that I was going to miss being there on the beach to watch his heat.


There was an incredible crowd on the beach and throngs of people rushed towards Kelly as he made his way to the waters edge on the northern end. With Dan Ross in the lead and Kelly was no where in the heat for the first 15 minutes or so, you could feel the tension and anxiety building on the beach as everyone focused on that orange jersey in the water. He finally got some decent waves but he needed a 6.88 to move into first place. As it always seems to happen, Kelly got the score he needed - a 7.60 - with one minute to go. Kelly seems to have this uncanny connection to the ocean, a way of making waves appear out of nowhere, to almost will it to happen, to take a meager looking wave and rip it to shreds. 

Kelly Slater paddling out for his heat. Can you see him there in the orange jersey?
I don't know why I feel so moved by his win. Maybe it's because of my new found obsession with surfing and appreciation for surf contests. Maybe it's just because it's truly an incredible feat from an amazing athlete and competitor. I feel humbled to have had the opportunity not only to watch him surf in person but to see him surf in familiar territory like NYC and SF. Plus, he's like one of my teen idols. But what I appreciate most is the fact that he's been doing this for 20 years professionally and his ability to adapt to basically any ocean condition and to his competitors in order to take his game to a higher level. It's that ability to adapt and to be flexible and agile that I would like to cultivate more in my life, to not be so bound by convention and expectation, to be OK with things as they happen, to evaluate a situation, come up with a plan and execute it.

Congratulations Kelly Slater. Here's a pretty cool video highlighting his amazing year.

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1 Comments:

At November 29, 2011 at 9:20 PM , Blogger Rad Surfing Mom and Urban Homesteader said...

Wow! This article totally rocked! Kelly is such an amazing surfer and you can tell that he really loves what he does! Just look at his videos from when he was young until now and you can see it in his face. He is pretty amazing and I know that there really is no other surfer like Kelly. I would love to meet him one day. I am happy to say that I have been to his home town with the family on a surfing vacation. Cocoa Beach is pretty awesome! I watched this contest on tv and was so happy for the people of New York for the chance they had to see the surfers in action. Surf is everywhere and all we have to do is find it. Just look at the story of Mavericks in California or I would highly recommend watching the movie Riding Giants! (very historical to say the least!) What I love about surfing is that it is a totally free sport. No one can command the ocean, wind, or waves, so if you doubt the surf reports drive out anyway and you just might be surprised. We have learned to use our own eyes to see the surf conditions for what they are. Surf reports are a great indicator for planning purposes, but I would highly recommend checking out the conditions first hand, plus a walk on the beach is always a bonus anyways!

 

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