Haleiwa, Oahu/HAWAII — (Sunday, December 1, 2019) — Sunset Beach swept wildly challenging surf through the lineup for Day 3 of the Vans World Cup of Surfing, event No. 2 of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing and final World Surf League (WSL) Men’s Qualifying Series (QS) 10,000 of the year, but eleven-time World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) seemed to play in the unruly conditions as he put on a show in his Round 3 opening heat. It has been 21 years since Slater earned his last Vans Triple Crown victory, and today he kept the possibility of a second title alive now that frontrunners Frederico Morais (PRT) and Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) are out of contention.
A wildcard replacement for Gabriel Medina (BRA), Slater entered the competition ranked No. 7 in the Vans Triple Crown title race and No. 10 on the Championship Tour (CT), safely within the Top 22 requalification requirement. Although Sunset is not a venue where Slater has seen success, today he advanced in first with playful, yet powerful authority. Nabbing the best wave of the heat, he dropped into a barrel behind the section for an 8.33 (out of a possible 10) and cemented his lead after stacking up a 6.83 earlier in the matchup. Tactful, top-to-bottom surfing earned Slater the second highest two-wave total of the day, a 15.16 (out of a possible 20), which included a 6.83 for big arcing turns. The degree of difficulty on every wave was unmatched and Slater’s ability to read the challenging conditions was top-level, despite a strained affair with the break.