It's not often that the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked surfers in the world square off against one another but in Peniche, Portugal, that is exactly what happened. The finals showdown included No. 2 Jordy Smith going up against not only the top surfer but more importantly he was up against Kelly Slater, an almost immortal in the world of professional surfing.
It had shades of classic No. 1 and No. 2 surfer battles, which in the past included Andy Irons versus Kelly Slater at the 2003 Pipeline Masters for the world title; Tom Curren versus Mark Occhilupo at Bells Beach for the 1985 world title; and who could forget the best rivalry of all time: Mark Richards versus Cheyne Horan with Richards winning all four of those world titles. It should be noted that Horan did have an epic comeback, winning the 1990 Billabong Pro at Sunset Beach and becoming the first surfer ever to regain a top 16 ranking as well as his first and only Triple Crown title — in waves that Horan was never known for.
Slater has a 10,000-point lead on Smith, after beating Smith in the finals in Peniche. It is Slater who is more than closing in on his 10th world title in 2010.
The big question now is will he walk away if and when he wins title No. 10?
JAMES PRIBRAM is a professional surfer and John Kelly Environmental Award winner. His websites include AlohaSchoolofSurfing and ECOWarrior Surf.com. He can be reached at Jamo@Aloha SchoolofSurfing.com.