Slater dedicated his record title to the biggest rival of his career, Andy Irons, who died this week.
"I just want to send my condolences to Andy's family, I'm a little overwhelmed right now but I want to dedicate this to Andy," said Slater. "It's like exact opposites. This doesn't really offset that, I'd give this title away in a second if Andy could come back."
The 38-year-old surfer beat Adriano De Souza in the quarters, Taj Burrow in the semis, and Bede Durbridge in the finals (video below).
“The wave that did it for me was that first one in the Quarterfinals against Adriano,” Slater said. “That was the heat I needed to win to get the Title, and after that first wave, I felt this wave of relief. I still had to win the heat, but I was so relaxed and everything just started going my way. I was in the best possible headspace I could have been in for the rest of the day. This is a dream.”
It's been quite a ride since Quiksilver looked up the 12-year-old Slater in 1984, and soon after signed him up.
"In that era, most surfers surfed either on their front foot or their back foot," former Australian surf coach Paul Neilsen told The Australian. "What was so noticeable was that he was so perfectly balanced. He was head and shoulders above the rest, even at that age. It was clearly visible where he was going. I'd never seen anyone so well balanced through every manoeuvre."
Slater surfed a lot in Puerto Rico when he was younger.
“This is the only event close to my home and I spent a lot of time in Puerto Rico when I was a kid,” Slater said. “I used to surf a lot of contests at Jobos and Wilderness, so this was kind of like a homecoming for me."
Kelly Slater, ASP/Kirstin Scholtz