Nine-time world champion, four-time Rip Curl Pro champion, and right now world number one surfer on the ASP 2010 season ratings, Kelly Slater showed his immense appreciation for Australian Indigenous Culture by gifting his winning 2010 Rip Curl Pro ‘BELL’ trophy to the Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-Operative.
Slater who has twice before been the recipient of a traditional aboriginal welcome to the winner’s podium by the Je-Be-Weng Aboriginal Dancers when receiving his trophy explained that when he arrived at Bells this year he had decided that if he won he would give his trophy to the Wathaurong community in recognition of their previous support of him and as an acknowledgment of the traditional owners of the land.
He went on to say halfway through the final and well behind in scores he suddenly remembered his personal pledge and he thought he may not get the opportunity, one he really wanted and that just after this thought the wave that ultimately won him the event came his way!
"I'm really excited because I remembered that before this contest I promised myself that if I won, I would give to trophy to the Wathaurong (local aboriginal tribe) people," Slater said. "I didn't remember that until I was out in the water and right when I did, those waves came. So before I give it to them, I want to pass the trophy around for everyone to give a ring because that's never been done before."
Slater spent quite some time with his Aboriginal friends in the Johanna car park ringing the Bell in his own hand-over celebration.
The place that Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-Operative plays in the Rip Curl Pro is now significant and is specifically aimed at exposing the world to Australian Aboriginal Culture.
The indigenous element of Rip Curl Pro is a key component of the 12-month a year statewide indigenous surfing program coordinated by Surfing Victoria in partnership with the Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-Operative and supported by the Victorian Government water safety initiative Play it Safe by the Water, the Department of Justice, VicHealth, many community groups and the surfing industry.
Elements of the program include statewide indigenous community learn to surf and water safety programs, work placement opportunities, a statewide surfing carnival attracting community members from not just the Victorian coastline but many inland communities as well, wild card opportunities into the Rip Curl Pro and coaching and mentoring courses.
Now number one on the ASP World Ratings following his second placing in Brazil, you can be certain the Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative will be cheering Slater on through every event this season!