Today was to be the day that surf fans, the world over, would see surfing’s greatest draw, 11x champion, Pipe Master and Pro Pipeline, Kelly Slater surf for the first time since a mock execution less than two weeks ago. You certainly remember how the 51-year-old, there in Margaret River and facing the World Surf League’s dreaded mid-season cut, faltered and was lain beside Kolohe Andino, Nat Young, Jackson Baker et. al. under the guillotine’s wicked blade.
His career, spanning decades, over in the blink of an eye unless he could somehow, in some way, muster the gumption to crawl back to the Qualifying Series, gain enough points and victoriously return to the bottom rung of the Championship Tour.
Well, in a wild, last minute reprieve, the World Surf League, which had already changed its rules under cover of darkness allowing for professional surfers named “Kelly Slater” to earn points in surf competitions where others cannot, swooped in and rescued the ageless-but-clearly-aging wonder, gifting to him a season-long wildcard that would allow him to stay on tour for basically ever.
Slater, though, was still slated to join his beheaded former stablemates in Coolangatta for the Gold Coast Pro Challenger Series event that opened its window yesterday, set to surf in round 64, heat 12 running later today. He has a home there, familiarity with the wave and surf fans, the world over, thrilled to see if he could regain some form, maybe even make a fairytale Olympic push.
Those hearts are now flopping on the sidewalk like gross little fishies out of water.
The last squirts of blood wheezing through vena cavas.
For, allegedly, the greatest athlete ever has decided not to participate in the event. A well-placed source declares he is currently in Hawaii, and will not get on a westbound jet plane, because “he doesn’t have to.”
“He’ll just re-qualify through the tour now that he has all the wildcards.”
What do you think about that?