newLennox Head surfer Owen Wright caused a major upset at the Rip Curl Bells Beach event, eliminating nine-times world champion Kelly Slater in pumping 2m waves today.

Wright, 19, who entered the event on a Rip Curl Pro wildcard, beat his 37-year-old rival after driving out to an early lead with his critical backhand attack, netting a 14.67 out of a possible 20, while Slater hunted barrels on his forehand.

“I am really happy,” Wright said. “It has been a long week waiting to surf against Kelly Slater.

“I have just been relishing it and waiting for it. Out there, I just stayed on my own game and really just concentrated on what I was doing. I just got the set waves and surfed them, then the ocean went flat at the end and I kept the win.”

Wright has been in sterling form in 2009, collecting three ASP Pro Junior event wins as well as a No 8 spot on the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS).

Today’s win against the nine-time ASP World Champion was further evidence of the explosive goofy-footer’s world-class form, and a great boost to confidence for the remainder of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach.

“I’ll be taking a lot of confidence into my next heat,” Wright said.

“I am just rapt with that heat and really happy to get one over Kelly Slater. There won’t be many chances like that one to come around.”

Slater displayed his patented mastery of the Bells bowl, sliding into barrels and smashing the lip on several occasions, but a failed exit on a double-barrel wave cost the Floridian the score needed.

“It was reminiscent of a heat I had out here against Sunny Garcia in 2000,” Slater said.

“I needed to come out of a second barrel to get through the heat and fell. Sunny went on to win the event and the World Title, which is pretty dooming I suppose. I didn’t see too much of Owen (Wright) surfing in the heat, but he did one big turn in front of me and I’ll have to watch the video later.”

The result marks the second equal 17th finish for Slater in 2009, making his campaign for an unprecedented 10th ASP World Title much more difficult.

“The magic hasn’t been there yet this season like it was last year,” Slater said.

“However, I just have to remember that it’s early in the season and there’s a long way to go.”

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Picture courtesy of Surfing Australia.