Owen Wright Defeats Kelly Slater To Win Inaugural Quiksilver Pro New York
Thanks to Hurricane Katia the first ever Quiksilver Pro New York wrapped up today in the best surf Long Beach has seen in months. 4-6 foot (face height) groomed walls rolled through all morning. Coupled with bright sunshine and a cloudless sky, the crowds shuffled to the beach en masse, packing the shoreline like sardines before the first quarterfinal even paddled out.
Standing amongst it all, struggling for a view of the action between thousands of mad surf fans, I settled in next to a large New Yorker decked head to toe in Jets gear. He told me he loved my Transworld SURF hat because it was his teams’ favorite colors. Realizing he was right I immediately gave it to him. He was ecstatic.
“Hey man, thanks. This is great. I never seen surfing in Long Beach like this before. You get a look at that air Josh Kerr just did? That boost was 8 foot. Best thing I ever seen in New York, other than my Jets.”
Judging from the amount of beach support today, it’s apparent he’s not the only over the moon local surf fan excited to have had the chance to witness a WT event in local waters. Well, the event and Kelly Slater. When the ten time champ pulled the ultimate hail mary with only minutes remaining against Taj Burrow in the semis – a full rotation slob grab air reverse, the cheers could be heard all the way to the city. It was uproar.
“I was really frustrated out there. I missed a couple of big rights, and was out of position for most of the heat. At the end Taj had priority and let me have that wave, and it was a closeout so I knew I had to throw the hail mary. I wasn’t even thinking about the grab in the air I was just trying to hold on and was fortunate to make it.”
On the other side of the morning draw Owen Wright went about beating Julian Wilson and Alejo Muniz to advance into the final against Kelly, a repeat of Tahiti from just over a week ago except in much tamer conditions. After Tahiti, Kelly called Owen “one of the best goofyfooter’s on the planet.” Judging from his recent success, that’s a hard point to argue. Seems the champ has good foresight – he knows talent when he sees it.
Though it seemed a foregone conclusion Kelly would win this event, 4 minutes into the 35-minute duel Owen smashed back-to-back lefts for a 9 and 7, leaving Kelly way behind the eight ball. Though Slater clawed his way out of combo land, he snapped his 5-fin sled attempting a backside air with just minutes remaining, sealing his defeat and guaranteeing Owen the 300,000 dollar first place check – the largest in surfing history.
On the podium, Owen was shaking with excitement. “Thank you Long Beach, look at these waves! Thanks to Quiksilver for putting on this event, this is huge. We’ve been treated so well. And yeah, thanks to my family and friends and coach for working so hard all week, and…oh yeah, the 300,000 dollars! Thanks heaps, everyone.”
With the win Owen is now an official World Title contender possessing the ability to beat Kelly Slater in all conditions. Game on! This could be one of the best ASP title finishes in years –Zander Morton