Slater clinches another world title in defeat

Santa Barbara’s Bobby Martinez and Channel Islands team rider Kelly Slater both went down in the fourth round at the Billabong Pro being held in Mundaka, Spain on Friday.

 The only difference for the pair is that while Bobby’s equal-17th earned him 410 points in the season standings, Slater’s finish (which equaled his worst showing on tour this year) was good enough to clinch his record-shattering ninth world title.

 Martinez will relinquish his status as two-time defending Mundaka champion when the contest concludes in the next couple of days. 

 Currently in seventh place in the season standings, Martinez is on pace for his third top-ten finish in as many years on surfing’s elite “Dream Tour.” The 11-event season has two remaining stops in Santa Catarina, Brazil and the season-ender at Pipeline in December.

 For Slater, it wasn’t a matter of if but when he was going to clinch.

“I knew it was going to happen here and good on him,” said Australia’s Taj Burrow, world No. 2 and still alive at Mundaka. “He had so many wins this season that I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner, but I’m glad he lost that last heat and I’m looking to take out the event.”

 Slater won at Snapper Rocks, Bells Beach, Tavarua, Jeffreys Bay and most recently at Trestles in September.

“It’s going to take a little while to sink in,” Slater said while getting mobbed at water’s edge. “I’m probably going to have to call home and talk to family for it to really hit me.”

 Slater is both the youngest, age 20 in 1992, and oldest, currently 36, to win a world title.

(Photos courtesy of ASP/Covered Images)

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