HUNTINGTON BEACH — Kelly Slater had not won an individual surfing championship at the Huntington Beach Pier in five years.
So why not win two titles Sunday?
Slater easily won the individual championship and then helped Team Focus to the tag-team title at the 16th Katin Team Challenge.
Competing in three- to four-foot conditions, Slater scored a perfect 10 on one of his waves and finished with a four-wave total of 100.8 on the three judges' scorecards. He easily outdistanced second-place Shane Beschen of San Clemente (95.6).
Slater, 1992 world champion, also scored a 17.0 on a double-scoring wave to lead Team Focus to a winning score of 228.5, well ahead of second-place Team Quiksilver (205.1).
Slater, 22, of Cocoa Beach, Fla., earned $1,000 by winning the individual title and shared the $4,000 first-place prize money with Focus teammates Rob Machado of Cardiff, and Shane Dorian and Conan Hayes of Hawaii.
"I've always wanted to win a pro contest here," Slater said. "This isn't a big money contest, but it's a great event. Tom Curren has won it, and so has Martin Potter. That's a pretty good list right there."
Although considered a fun contest, the Katin is situated during a break on the world tour and regularly attracts the top U.S. surfers. Sunday's individual final featured Slater, Machado, Beschen and Carlsbad's Taylor Knox--all ranked among the top 16 on the world tour.
After falling on his first two waves, Slater scored a 9.17 on his third wave and added the 10--believed to be the first perfect score in the history of the competition--on his sixth wave.
The perfect score was a typical Slater highlight film--five big backside maneuvers off the lip. After finishing his last move, he nearly ran into his good friend, Machado, who was paddling back out after catching a wave.
"Rob tried to throw his board at me," Slater said, grinning. "That was just one of those waves where you just keep going off the lip, and it keeps going and going and going."
It was Slater's first victory in Huntington Beach since leading Team USA to the 1992 Op Pro title, and it was his first individual championship since taking the 1989 Op Junior amateur title, the year before he became a professional.
It also was his third victory in six events this year, which includes a victory in April at Bell's Beach, Australia, the first stop on the Assn. of Surfing Professionals' world tour.
"I'm batting .500 right now," he said.
Slater is hoping that momentum will carry over for the rest of the world tour. He's trying to rebound from a disappointing sixth-place finish last season, when he struggled with a nagging knee injury, equipment problems and distractions in filming the TV series "Baywatch."
No distractions this season. No TV obligations. The knee is fine. And boardshaper Al Merrick has armed Slater with a new arsenal of boards that the former world champion says are working better than ever.
"It has been really nice (this year)," Slater said. "I think the main thing is my boards. I didn't have the confidence in my boards last year that I do this year."
The Bud Pro Surfing tour stop at Huntington State Beach begins Wednesday just north of the Santa Ana River Jetties. . . . Kelly Slater and current world champion Derek Ho of Hawaii are expected to compete. . . . The ASP world tour resumes May 25 at the Marui Pro in Japan. . . . The West Coast Pro-Am surfing tour continues June 11-12 with the Body Glove Open at 54th St. Beach in Newport Beach.
1. Kelly Slater (Cocoa Beach, Fla.), 100.8; 2. Shane Beschen (San Clemente), 95.6; 3. Rob Machado (Cardiff), 83.8; 4. Taylor Knox (Carlsbad), 83.8 (Machado awarded third on tiebreaker).
1. Focus (Shane Dorian, Conan Hayes, Kelly Slater and Rob Machado), 228.5; 2. Quiksilver (Todd Miller, Craig Bechtloff, Jay Larson, Doug Silva), 205.1; 3. Victory (Peter Mel, Chris Billy, Chris Brown, Bobby Lockhart), 204.3; 4. Rusty (Todd Chesser, Pat O'Connell, Taylor Knox, Evan Slater), 202.6.
West Coast Pro-Am Tour final--1. Jimmy Pitts, 2. Marco Lopez, 3. Jason Shelton.
Junior final--1. Tim Curran, 2. Troy Tecklenberg, 3. Jimmy Zimmerman, 4. Donovan Stapleton, 5. Josh Curran, 6. Jordan Tappis.