San Francisco will forever sit as a key location in the history of surfing after Kelly Slater won an unprecedented 11th world title Wednesday at the Rip Curl Pro Search surf contest at Ocean Beach.

Kelly Slater Ocean Beach

Kelly Slater carves a wave at Ocean Beach. // Photo by Ben Struck

The achievement was greeted by thousands of fans on the beach who carried Slater from the water’s edge to the platform on the beach where a trophy was later presented to him.

Slater beat Australian surfer Daniel Ross in Heat 6 of Round 3 in a highly competitive afternoon dual. The Aussie had the advantage throughout most of the heat, outscoring Slater with several clean rides while Slater failed barrel attempts on his first two waves. However, Slater caught the longest ride of the heat with just over three minutes left, allow for several maneuvers and score that put him just ahead of Ross for the victory.

Kelly Slater

Owen Wright surfs Ocean Beach as the crowd waits for Slater to hit the beach. // Photo by Ben Struck

“It was a scrappy heat, I didn’t win it in the most effortless style,” Slater said in an interview with Rip Curl. “I’ve had a lot of heats with Rossy (Dan Ross) this year, and he’s real dangerous with a little power so I knew he’d be dangerous and I was nowhere to be found in the beginning of that heat.”

The 11th world title is the latest achievement for Slater, who also finished first in the ASP tour in 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2010.

“The 10th world title seemed harder to me and felt like a two-year journey—really it felt like a 20-year journey to get the 10th,” Slater said in a release from his publicist after the event.

Kelly Slater World Title

Kelly Slater holds the ASP world title trophy. // Photo by Ben Struck

At 39 years old, Slater is one of the oldest surfers on the ASP tour, which features approximately 36 surfers—some of which are teenagers—from all over the world at each event. He touted his healthy lifestyle as a factor to his success.

“Part of it is people always talk about my age and, you know, I’m 39—almost 40,” Slater said. “To me that’s literally just a number. You can prove people wrong and stay super healthy. I don’t see why at 50 I can’t be in better shape than I am now. If anything, I’d like to try to represent that to people. I eat well and I talk about it and I walk the walk, and it shows in my ability physically.”

While talk of Slater’s impending victory dominated the day, the contest on Tuesday also had somber overtones as people remembered pro surfer and former world champion Andy Irons, who died unexpectedly of cardiac arrest a year earlier.

“It’s sort of weird and I’ve been thinking about a lot of things coming together,” Slater told Rip Curl. “What are the chances of me winning on the anniversary of Andy passing away? It makes it a lot more special for me. It’s a way to celebrate my memories with him and be thinking about him. It’s been on my mind and I wrote a story about him the other day. It’s a time to think back.”

Ocean Beach

The scene at Ocean Beach. // Photo by Ben Struck

The surf on Wednesday was slightly smaller but cleaner than the first day of surfing on Tuesday.

“I’m refocusing on another win here,” Slater said. “I’ve accomplished the year goal. I definitely feel like I can go out and surf a lot more relaxed now. It’s really nice to win here in these conditions with so many people on the beach, I thought it’d be freezing cold and onshore and it’s been amazing.”

Slater could compete again mid-day Thursday in Round 4, Heat 2, after the last two heats of Round 3 are completed. However, the weather and swell could deteriorate. Forecasts call for 3-4 foot faces and the occasional 5-foot face in the morning, but a projected onshore northwest wind could make for sloppy conditions later in the day. The swell is expected to build Friday, but wind could continue to be a factor.

UPDATE: The ASP men’s tour was called today while youth surfers compete. Men’s surfing could resume tomorrow.

Kelly Slater’s ASP World Title Clinch Locations

2011: Rip Curl Pro Search San Francisco – USA

2010: Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico – USA Territory

2008: Billabong Pro Mundaka – Basque/Spain

2006: Billabong Pro Mundaka – Basque/Spain

2005: Nova Schin Festival – Brazil

1998: Mountain Dew Pipeline Masters – Hawaii

1997: Expo 98 Figueira 97 – Portugal

1996: Coca Cola Figueira 96 – Portugal

1995: Chiemsee Pipe Masters – Hawaii

1994: Chiemsee Gerry Lopez Pipe Masters – Hawaii

1992: Alternativa Surf Rio – Brazil

RIP CURL PRO SEARCH SAN FRANCISCO ROUND 3 RESULTS

Heat 1: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 13.40 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 13.00

Heat 2: Taylor Knox (AUS) 14.60 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.57

Heat 3: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 14.10 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 11.43

Heat 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.37 def. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 5.36

Heat 5: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 11.87 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.50

Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.13 def. Daniel Ross (AUS) 14.40

Heat 7: Owen Wright (AUS) 17.54 def. Adam Melling (AUS) 12.43

Heat 8: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 15.10 def. Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 14.40

Heat 9: Brett Simpson (USA) 16.97 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 10.50

Heat 10: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.87 def. Chris Davidson (AUS) 6.50

RIP CURL PRO SEARCH SAN FRANCISCO ROUND 2 RESULTS

Heat 5: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 12.00 def. Dane Reynolds (USA) 9.17

Heat 6: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 16.34 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 12.17

Heat 7: Josh Kerr (AUS) 10.10 def. Travis Logie (ZAF) 9.33

Heat 8: Brett Simpson (USA) 16.37 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 14.37

Heat 9: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 16.43 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 8.87

Heat 10: Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 14.66 def. Dusty Payne (HAW) 10.86

Heat 11: Tiago Pires (PRT) 14.33 def. John John Florence (HAW)

Heat 12: Taylor Knox (USA) 15.73 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 12.40

More coverage from Rip Curl.

More SF Station Coverage:

Slater Wins 11th ASP Title

Rip Curl Pro Search Surf Contest Results, Round 1

Rip Curl Pro Ocean Beach Surf Contest Preview

Ocean Beach Contest

The crowd after the victory. // Photo by Ben Struck