Alberga defeats Kelly Slater wins Sean Slater Invitational
Sean Slater Invitational
Holiday Inn, Cocoa Beach Fla
27 - 28 October 2006
Marshall Alberga outduels Kelly Slater for title
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 28 October, 2006 : - - COCOA BEACH - Two weeks ago, Marshall Alberga was just another hot-shot surfer stretched out on his bed, contemplating a pro career or maybe even what the next Pearl Jam CD would sound like. But that's all changed. Six days ago, the 18-year-old Melbourne Beach surfer with the frizzy blond curls and a mile-wide smile won the gold medal at the AAU National Championships.
Then today, Saturday afternoon, he stunned the surfing world by knocking off the greatest surfer of all-time, Kelly Slater, and another world-class pro, Shea Lopez, to win the inaugural $10,000 Sean Slater Invitational at the Holiday Inn. "Definitely, this is one of the best days of my life," said Alberga, clutching his $3,800 paycheck -- $500 of that which he donated to charity. "I knew all along Kelly was going to be in this contest, so I was just hopeful we could meet. I was trippin' out there. I mean, this guy's been in so many contests around the world . . . I'm super-stoked."
This event, part of Slater's World Skin Cancer Foundation Fall Classic, turned into an unofficial homecoming celebration after the Cocoa Beach native had clinched his eighth world title two weeks ago. And while Slater greeted hundreds of old and new friends, and signed everything from surfboards to skateboards, it was Alberga's day to shine during his first pro victory.
In the final, he never seemed intimidated, even when Slater followed him closely at one point before getting criss-crossed by Alberga, who took a scoring wave as Slater just watched helplessly. "I saw a little left coming," Alberga said. "He said, 'Which way are you going?' So I just took off."
"I wasn't really going to block him or anything like that," said Slater, who had heard of the Melbourne High graduate, but had never seen him surf. "If you could have seen the look in his eyes how much he wanted it, to see him that stoked . . . I just couldn't catch a wave."
As the afternoon wore on, Alberga gathered a crescendo of support from the sun-splashed crowd as he defeated Cam Anderson, Josh Wilson and David Awbrey to reach the finals. Most of his work came on lefts diagonally into the shoreline, making the most of relatively flat waves that never did materialize. "I knew there wasn't much out there, so I couldn't be too selective," Alberga said. "I think they ended up being a little too patient."
Slater, 34, finished second despite catching just three contestable waves in the 25-minute final to earn $1,500. Lopez won $900 and, like Slater, was gracious in defeat.
"He found the right places to surf, but not only that, he surfed very well, too," said Lopez, a nine-year World Championship Tour pro who appears in world-class form again after sustaining a severe knee injury two years ago in Hawaii. "I had some good heats on small waves, and they usually are the ones that give you trouble."
Earlier in the day, Slater defeated three local veterans, David Speir, Paul Reinecke and C.T. Taylor. Slater nearly didn't make it through his third-round heat against Speir. First, Speir was declared the winner, but a closer look revealed an actual tie on two of the judges' scoring sheets, meaning the highest wave score on each would determine the winner, and those belonged to Slater.
"You know, when he was 14, he kicked me in the mouth and chipped like five of my teeth," Slater said. "I had thrown a cactus at him and it stuck on his face. I guess I'm getting back at him now." "It was just like ol' times," said Speir, 35, of Melbourne Beach. "Now I work and chase my kids." Awbrey, Taylor and Aaron Cormican each won $350 for sharing fourth place.
Read the full article by Hillard Grossman at Florida Today
Contests - Surfersvillage