Slater not champion - yet

2011-11-05 07:10

San Francisco - The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) has been forced into an embarrassing admission that it made a mistake this week when it declared Kelly Slater had won this year's world title.

The American was presented with his 11th world title on Tuesday after he won his third round heat at the world tour event in San Francisco when ASP officials calculated he had an unbeatable lead over his nearest rival, Owen Wright, in the season points race.

But the ASP revealed on Friday they had made a mistake with their calculations of tiebreaks and the 39-year-old Slater was not yet assured of the title.

"Our rankings' system is designed to split tiebreaks based off of seed points," tour manager Renato Hickel said.

"Kelly and Owen tied at best nine of 11 results, so we went to best eight of 11 results and the system gave it to Kelly based off his higher seed position. We were operating under that assumption and created the ASP world title scenarios based off of that. This was a mistake. In the end, we're responsible for this and should be held accountable. We apologise to our fans, the surfers and to Owen and Kelly."

The good news for Slater is that he is still very close to winning the title while Wright has a slim mathematical chance of snatching the crown.

Slater needs to win one more heat, either at San Francisco or the season-ending event in Hawaii, to be assured of the title.

If he fails to win another heat, the only way Wright can overtake him is if he wins the last two events, then beats Slater in a "surf-off."

Slater, far and away the most successful surfer the sport has seen, became the youngest man to win the world title when he won his first in 1992 aged 20.

He won five in a row between 1994 and 1998, eclipsing Australian Mark Richards's record of five world titles.

He retired in 1999 but made a comeback in 2002 and went on to win world titles in 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2010 to become the oldest world champion.