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Slater's Bells board at Smithsonian

10/25/2011
Slater donated his round tail thruster that he surfed to victory at the 2010 Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach. Courtesy photo

Kelly Slater's mainstream reach now extends to Washington, D.C., to the collection of artifacts at the National Museum of American History. The museum, along the National Mall in the Nation's Capital, recently acquired the round tail thruster Slater surfed to victory at the 2010 Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach, Australia, the second event in a year when Slater eventually claimed his 10th world title.

According to his representative, Slater and the Smithsonian Institution were connected through the production team from The Ultimate Wave Tahiti 3D. Slater and a group of surfers, including host Raimana Van Bastolaer, were filmed surfing Teahupoo for the movie, which was recently shown at the National Museum of Natural History. "Natural History reached out to ask if [the Museum of American History] would be interested in obtaining something from Kelly, and once I accepted the people at Natural History made the initial contact with Kelly and then I took over from there," explained Jane Rogers, associate curator for culture and the arts at the Smithsonian.

The Ultimate Wave crew had hoped Slater would present the board to the museum when the movie premiered in D.C., but a scheduling conflict prevented him from attending. The board will remain on display with several other sports-related items, including a racing helmet of the late Dale Earnhardt, for six months to a year.

Rogers noted that sentimentality was behind Slater's decision to donate the particular board. "I asked Kelly which board he would like to give that would best represent his career and he chose the Bells Beach board because he thought that represented a turning point for him on his quest for his 10th title," she said. "Coming from behind at Bells Beach to win that [event] allowed him to go for the 10th, so he was attached to this board and wanted us to have it."

Throughout nine of the eleven ASP events in 2011, Slater has won three of the five contests in which he's reached the final round. And although he lost last week to number three-ranked Adriano de Souza at the Rip Curl Pro Portugal, his grip on the top seed of World Tour remains tight, and he could win his 11th title as early as the Rip Curl Search San Francisco, which has a waiting period that begins November 1.