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Saturday, October 29, 2011
Updated: November 7, 6:18 PM ET
Blue skies and big upsets

By Jake Howard
ESPN Action Sports

Besides Slater, Taylor Knox is the last of the New School generation left on tour. He proved there's still a little something left in his tank too, beating Bede Durbidge and Jadson Andre today.

Preview Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Final

On a day that literally every San Francisco surfer claimed as the nicest of the year, a day that saw Kelly Slater ride to glory and capture his record-setting eleventh world title, the rest of the top dogs on the ASP World Tour struggled.

It was only themselves they had to blame. Ocean Beach delivered the goods. Four to five feet, offshore wins, 75-degree beach temperature, that doesn't happen in the land of fog and gloom -- except in November, according to all the defensive locals, who whether they want to admit it or not, all harbor aspirations that this contest will once and for all validate their spot on the world's stage. See, it does get good.

"It's the best day of the year and Kelly's going to win the title here, at our beach," reveled one surfer. It's anybody's guess how many people came out to see Slater's coronation, but a normally desolate beach was jam packed with city slickers, yuppies, hippies, surf fans, grommets, you name it, San Francisco was out in force. Unfortunately they weren't as concerned about the other happenings in the event.

Brett Simpson was another California that ripped today, "It's just like Huntington in the winter out there," he'd say.

But maybe that's a good thing because so many of the higher rated surfers absolutely choked it. Mick Fanning continued to struggle with the worst -- and only -- slump of his career, losing in the second heat of the day to Kieren Perrow. Fannning's been struggling to find the boards he's looking for, and as a result his timing and rhythm just haven't been there. Perrow would then go on to beat Adriano De Souza later in the day, ending any chance De Souza had at a title.

Matty Wilkinson, clad in a tie-dyed wetsuit, edged out Taj Burrow by less than half a point, while Taylor Knox squeaked by Bede Durbidge by three one hundredths of a point. High fliers Julian Wilson and Dane Reynolds were also sent packing.

Barrels, airs, turns, drama, today had it all. As far as surf contests go, it was about as interesting as it gets. It's not often that you hear people signing praise for Ocean Beach, but they were today. Rip Curl has once again gambled and won. The Search continues to score, and that's a good thing.

"You couldn't ask for a better day," told Rip Curl boss man Neil Ridgeway. "All the pieces were here today and it's been an epic and historic day of surfing."

Rumor has it the contest is off tomorrow, but that Rip Curl will be running the Grom Search final ... which is probably fine by all the guys on tour, for as good as it's been two days of non-stop heats can be bear.

Heat 1: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 13.40 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 13.00
Heat 2: Taylor Knox (AUS) 14.60 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.57
Heat 3: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 14.10 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 11.43
Heat 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.37 def. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 5.36
Heat 5: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 11.87 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.50
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.13 def. Daniel Ross (AUS) 14.40
Heat 7: Owen Wright (AUS) 17.54 def. Adam Melling (AUS) 12.43
Heat 8: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 15.10 def. Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 14.40
Heat 9: Brett Simpson (USA) 16.97 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 10.50
Heat 10: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.87 def. Chris Davidson (AUS) 6.50

Heat 5: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 12.00 def. Dane Reynolds (USA) 9.17
Heat 6: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 16.34 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 12.17
Heat 7: Josh Kerr (AUS) 10.10 def. Travis Logie (ZAF) 9.33
Heat 8: Brett Simpson (USA) 16.37 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 14.37
Heat 9: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 16.43 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 8.87
Heat 10: Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 14.66 def. Dusty Payne (HAW) 10.86
Heat 11: Tiago Pires (PRT) 14.33 def. John John Florence (HAW)
Heat 12: Taylor Knox (USA) 15.73 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 12.40