Kelly Slater out of water for three months following major hip surgery as champ considers experimental post-op stem cell and platelet-rich treatments!

"A significant surgery, for sure."

The so-called King of Shade, Kelly Slater, who announced he was recovering from major hip surgery just before the first finals final heat between Caroline Marks and Carissa Moore but refused to give further detail, has finally opened up on the op. 

“[They did] a labrum reconstruction, removed scar tissue and bone spurs on femoral head, shaved the socket joint, and removed bone pieces and foreign objects floating in the joint,” Slater told The Inertia’s Alexander Haro.  “A significant surgery for sure.”

Readers taken aback by a first read might think labia reconstruction, and be thrilled the Champ had undergone a gender switcharoo, although this is not the case. 

The Champ said he was gonna be outta the water for three months but, “I’ll throw everything I can at it to get back by winter. Rest first then PT and any dietary stuff I can do; lots of deep tissue massage once the labrum is settled and attached. Obviously if there are any protocols from PRP to stem cells I can do, I’ll look into that.”

If you didn’t know, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatments are getting a lot of heat in the field of post-surgery recovery and tissue regeneration. They use the body’s own healing mechanisms to speed up the healing process and enhance tissue repair. 

Way it works, platelets from the Champ’s blood would be injected into the surgery site to accelerate the body’s natural healing processes. Platelets, y’see, are rich in growth factors and cytokines, which play a pivotal role in tissue repair and regeneration. Quicker recovery times and less pain. Big among athletes etc. 

Stem cell treatments you might’ve seen on Koa Rothman’s vlog where the handsome middle son of North Shore enforcer Fast Eddie Rothman and brother to big-wave world champion Makua, goes to San Francisco and gets his stem cells harvested from his spine then injected straight into the site of his foot injury. 

As for Slater,“Post op is looking positive…Everything how it should be.”

A CrowdFund account has been set up to cover medical costs, loss of income and so on. Click here. 

bikini swamp girl massacre
A scene from my fav film of 2014, Bikini Swamp Girl Massacre.

Surf journalist famous for reporting in red bikini almost perishes in Oceanside hotel fire on day of world title showdown!

Live dangerously.

I awaken to a loud clanging and a rude woman yelling at me. I can’t remember where I am or why. I just want the loud woman to shut up and let me sleep. But no. She just keeps bugging me. The hotel is on fire, she says.

Well, I guess I better get the fuck out.

This is not my first time for this kind of thing. I grab my phone, wallet, and room key. My backpack and clothing for Trestles are by the door, so I grab that, too. Never leave the laptop behind.

It’s four floors down to the sidewalk, where half-asleep guests, most of them in hotel robes have congregated. We walk around the block to the hotel entrance. Oh, we cleared the alarm, you can go back to your rooms. Sweet. Good talk. I head back up the stairs.

An hour later, my alarm goes off. This time, I remember what I’m supposed to do. Trestles. The hotel coffee machine pumps out hot water. Desperate, I burn through three coffee pods. No coffee. I wonder if I’m capable of operating a motor vehicle without coffee. Only one way to find out. Live dangerously.

Just after 5am, I’m on the freeway heading north from Oceanside. I exit Christianitos and drive uphill, past an already long line of parked cars. I slip into a slot. Around me, ebikes pile out of trucks and surfers ready their boards. A crew of Toledo fans walk by, carrying beach chairs and wearing t-shirts with their favorite’s name screened in bright yellow.

In the early dawn light, I flail around my car with clothing and snacks. Then I begin the long walk down to the beach. I have a house full of bikes. Did I bring one? Well, no. I curse my stupidity.

Up on the bluffs above Lowers, I can see the flowing swell lines. How often have we all been seduced by that view? From a long way up, every swell looks so beautifully perfect. I stand there for a few moments and allow it to work its wiles on me. It looks so good from up here. What if it’s actually awesome?

But even from above, I can see the warble in the swell, caused by the hurricane’s swirling winds and the comparatively close proximity of the storm. Down on the beach, the bump becomes more pronounced. The swell’s steep angle forces the waves to run up the point.

I see lots of closeouts. Towering peaks drop to nothing. There’s only a few good rights out there. It’s the kind of day when you paddle out hopeful, but are almost certainly going to leave frustrated. Wrong swell, wrong place. Maybe next time.

But here we are. Walking up the beach, I run into friends. We set up umbrellas in front of the competitor’s area and settle in. As the warm-up session is ending, Jack Robinson is still out there. Every wave I see, he falls. The beach announcer begins trying to clear the lineup. A number of die-hards milk it as long as they can. Eventually he tells them to bellyboard, and counts it down.

On the beach next to me, a box of Caity Simmers t-shirts springs open, and a pool of blue spills over the nearby crowd. Caity Simmers, Pride of Oceanside, they read. Caity’s up in the first heat of the day, and they’re ready.

An enigmatic presence, Caity saunters down the beach to start her heat. Molly Picklum runs. Caity looks detached, as though she’s watching this whole thing happen to someone else. She has a kind of unapproachable cool. She looks like she’s heading out for a surf on a typical Saturday, like there’s nothing at all on the line.

But Caity surfs fully committed. She finds one of the good rights, and displays her dynamic style. She’s creative and electric. Nearby, an enthusiastic fan finger surfs one of her turns. The blue t-shirts cheer loudly after every wave as Caity zips past on the ski, and they erupt when she beats Molly.

But Caity’s free-flowing approach leads her to make mistakes, too. Against Caroline, she falls on a scoring wave, and takes a left that doesn’t have much to offer. She’s not yet a match for the polish that Caroline has acquired in her five years on Tour.

When Caroline ends the dream, Caity’s fans stand silent, and I can feel the weight of their disappointment. I want to tell them to hang in there, it’s coming. Caity has so much more to show than these two heats at Trestles, no matter what stakes have been assigned to them. A prodigious talent, Caity’s still 17. Time is on her side.

I’m standing with the Channel Islands crew when João Chianca sends Jack Robinson home. Over the heads of the crowd, they celebrate with Britt Merrick, who stands in the competitor’s area. Against expectations, their guy beat his seed. The day’s already a success for them.

By now, the sun’s hot overhead. I pull on a bikini and jump in the ocean. I almost lose my bottoms in the shorebreak. Amateur. I float in the shallows and let the waves wash over my head. Just like heaven. Surf contest. What surf contest. At Uppers, someone straightens out on a right. Wrong swell, wrong place.

On the upper level of the competitor’s area, Griff dances, headphones on. His fans pack the beach, carrying signs. The San Clemente mayor Chris Duncan introduces Griff before his heat. Square-shouldered and wearing a cap, Duncan looks exactly how I’d expect. It’s all set for a story-book ending.

It’s impossible to move on the beach now, and Griff’s crew extends over the low tide cobbles, and into the shallows. American flags wave. Red shirts blanket the beach. It all feels very wholesome. They’re here for their guy, and they give a shit about this thing. In this moment, pro surfing matters. If they could win it for him, they would.

Ethan ends the fairytale almost before it begins. Ethan’s turns fucking bang. He places them so precisely on the wave and he wraps the arcs so tightly. There’s no wasted movement, no flapping arms, just pure power. Standing on the beach where there’s no broadcast to distract me, and without the flattening distortion from the video cameras, I can finally see his surfing clearly. Holy shit. How is he even doing that?

Griff looks rough around the edges, as though the nerves and the atmosphere have gotten to him. He claims for the crowd on the beach, and they love it. What looks awkward on the video feed, feels right in the moment. They all want it so badly.

Not this time, not this year. When Griff loses, the beach thins out, but much later, a crew of groms stand behind the competitor’s area chanting for Griff, still waving their signs, still committed.

I find a spot on the beach for the women’s final, and pull a towel over my head against the sun. It’s too late for another dip in the ocean. After security moves the crowd, a spot opens up in front of me. A group of girls hesitates. Should they stand there? Is it okay? I encourage them to crowd in. This is their time. This show is for them.

When Carissa Moore and Caroline Marks paddle out, there’s a wind on it and the swell has turned inconsistent. The complexity works to Caroline’s advantage. She’s spent so many hours at Lowers and it shows in her wave selection. She knows exactly which waves will hold up for her and she makes the most of them.

That Carissa would have the same advantage at Sunset or Haleiwa points to mismatch between the nature of surfing and this one-day showdown. The fickle ocean creates an uneven playing field and always will. We all dream of that one perfect day, because it’s so elusive. Awarding the world title on series points may not feel as dramatic, but it fits the wild, ungovernable nature of this strange dance we love.

Peering through the sea of umbrellas, I catch one exchange between Filipe Toledo and Ethan. Both hit it hard. I can’t imagine how to score the difference in their approaches. Filipe’s unpredictable airs versus Ethan’s controlled power: the judges rightly rule in Filipe’s favor, but it’s closer than I’d imagined it would be.

Meanwhile, Filipe’s fans have filled in where Griff’s left off. They chant his name, drawing out the syllables to make it sing. Brazilian flags wave high and the energy is straight fire.

I want to be happy for Caroline, but honestly, I find the two women’s heats excruciating to watch. I want to cover my eyes, watch through my fingers, like the scene in a scary movie. Seeing the title slip through Carissa’s fingers yet again feels painful. She doesn’t have a good read on the wave and can’t put it together. Two women in front of me wear matching, pink Carissa t-shirts. They look crestfallen as the clock ticks down.

After her final heat, Carissa comes up the beach, head down. She looks crushed. Reaching the competitor’s area, Carissa disappears quickly into the darkness. I can’t help but wonder where she goes from here.

Behind her, Caroline’s fans flood into the water, floating on alligator blow-up toys. Florida flags wave, and when Caroline reaches the beach, Lisa Andersen waits in the shallows with a bottle of Champagne. They flood into the podium area, celebrating wildly. A first world title is something special, and Caroline says later that she’s traveled a hard road to get there. She deserves to enjoy this one.

When the WSL executives file onto the stage for the podium ceremony, it feels like the parents have shown up to break up the party. All day, the energy on the beach felt authentic. The people who showed up to Trestles, they care about contest surfing and they reacted to just about every turn. A combination of the Brazilian fans, the 2% crew around Griff, and the teen groms created that atmosphere.

With the departure of Eric Logan, the WSL and pro surfing stands at a crossroads. Logan’s era of the League burned through talent and relationships, and there’s rebuilding to do. What comes next will almost certainly stand or fall on its ability to engage the people who show up and care. Hold the interest of the groms with their fan t-shirts and signs, and I’m pretty sure you’ve got something.

As Filipe receives his trophy, the chants deafen. His fans are alive in the moment. And they’re just as willing to cheer for Caroline. They create a chant for her, too, drawing out the syllables of her name. Carol-EEEEN-AH! I’m close to the stage, and I turn to see it from the surfer’s perspective. It’s a wall of people, pressing in, hands and phones and flags in the air.

Then just like that, it’s done. The lineup immediately fills, as surfers emerge seemingly out of nowhere to paddle out and get a few. Picking up my bag, I begin the long walk home through the dry Southern California dust.

At the top of the bluffs, I stop and take one more look back.

The waves still roll in.

Sun shimmers over the wind texture that mars the surface. It’s never as perfect as we hope. Up on the overpass, a red banner for Griff flaps in the onshore breeze.

The next day, when I drive back north, it’ll already be gone like none of it happened at all.

Hamilton getting barrel and with bad boy Kelly Slater. Photo: Instagram
Hamilton getting barrel and with bad boy Kelly Slater. Photo: Instagram

Race star Lewis Hamilton reveals surf great Kelly Slater goaded him into surfing “25-foot Pipeline wave” nearly killing him

“Kelly was like: ‘There’s no way you’re going out there.’ And I was like: ‘Kelly, I’m going out.’”

Lewis Hamilton is a bonafide international super star. The racing legend has many victories under his belt, is handsome, suave, enjoys the company of famous friends and also dares the devil. A life well-lived by any measure. The knighted 38-year-old sat down with luxury publication Robb Report recently and shared one of the most dangerous things he has ever done.

What do you imagine it might be. Bungee jumping in beautiful New Zealand? Skydiving over Bora Bora? As it happens, Hamilton almost faced death while practicing our surfing and all thanks to one Kelly Slater.

The two were staying on Oahu’s fabled North Shore, a few years, gazing at “giant” Pipeline and Hamilton declared, “Kelly was like: ‘There’s no way you’re going out there.’ And I was like: ‘Kelly, I’m going out.’”

He paddled, much to the 11x world surfing champion’s chagrin, and was soon facing a 25-foot bomb.

“I dived down and grabbed the reef and prayed,” he continued. “I could hear the thing land behind me, like a bomb going off. My board got ripped off and snapped in half. I was very close to the end. But that excites me for some reason.”


I was out at 2-foot Off the Wall, before, not paying attention to the forecast and it suddenly rose to solid 4-foot. I was absolutely terrified, dropping into what felt like the biggest wave ever, sticking it but getting detonated by an end bit, washing up on shore thankful to be alive.

Hamilton’s 25-foot Pipeline experience must have been unbelievable.

I guess that’s why he’s a knight and I’m merely a serf journalist.

Get it?

Transplants (pictured)
Transplants (pictured)

Orange County paper of record pins new surf world champions Caroline Marks and Filipe Toledo with “transplant” tag

"A place belongs to whoever claims it hardest... loves it so radically that he remakes it in his image."

For the entirety of my life, I have been a rolling stone. Born in San Jose, California but bundled to Coos Bay, Oregon before the lights really turned on until 18, at which point I moved myself to La Mirada, California and university. Stints in Buena Park, Stanton, Whittier, South Pasadena, Highland Park, Bondi, Melbourne followed before I landed in Cardiff By The Sea, where I have now been for 13 years.

Experiences, man. And flavor.

Though I often do look at those who have called a place home for generations and wonder what that sort of deep, deep localism must feel like. A sense of place, roots pushing through the soil, lending a perception of belonging come hell or climate change? A pair of cement boots that trap feet to location, stifling dreams and adventure? Some mix of the two or something entirely different?

I’ll never know what beats through, say, Griffin Colapinto’s heart. Matthew McConaughey delivering a spine-tingling speech overlaid with video clips of deep locals Kolohe Andino, Matt Archbold, etc. waving at the camera ahead of his hometown hero performance at the just-wrapped Finals Day.

The pulse of community pride didn’t seem to help Colapinto, that day, as he was undone by Australia’s Ethan Ewing and San Clementines became very sad. Depressed even though Caroline Marks was crowned the women’s champion, Filipe Toledo the men’s.

Both have called San Clemente home and for a long, long time.

Paper of record The Orange County Register noted the fact but didn’t celebrate the pair as locals done good but as “transplants.” Marks from Melbourne, Florida, of course, and Toledo from Ubatuba, Brazil.

Why aren’t they embraced?

Difficult to say, but looking back at the McConaughey video and seeing Matt Biolos amongst the localist of locals cheering Colapinto on sparks something. Ten years ago, now, when I was writing the award-nominated Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell, I spent a good amount of time with North Shore icon “Fast” Eddie Rothman. Now, that specter was not born in Haleiwa nor did he come from a long line of Oahuans. He had come to the island via Philadelphia and Texas as a young man. And yet, he seemed to be as North Shore as Pipeline’s reef itself.

As I was pondering belonging, back then, I stumbled upon a Joan Didion quote reading, “A place belongs to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his image.”

It felt as true then as it does now and, back to Biolos, he came to San Clemente from the gross inland yuck of Chino some sixty miles away. But Chino doesn’t mark him. He is as San Clemente as Big Helyn’s Saloon.

Loving it radically.

Marks and Toledo? Maybe someday they’ll be claimed by the Spanish Village by the Sea but I doubt it. They don’t seem the sort to remake it in their image. Florida will always “home” for Marks, I guess. Toledo is neither Brazilian nor Californian, now. Certainly not Tahitian either. Does the lack of belonging make him sad or, as McConaughey suggested, are roots manmade things which he has clipped in order to fly?

Thoughts, please.

Back-to-back world champ Pip Toledo and newbie Caz Marx, both unstoppable in the little Californian peelers.
Back-to-back world champ Pip Toledo and newbie Caz Marx, both unstoppable in the little Californian peelers. | Photo: WSL

Surfing’s most important voice slams Californian site of world title showdown, “Finals Day belongs in Indonesia or the South Pacific or maybe Hawaii if you really need to baby out and stay close to home”

"Trestles three years in a row? That's basically an insult, a fuck-you to the pros, to the fans, to the game."

I treated myself by spending seven hours yesterday embedded in the BeachGrit WSL Finals Day livestream comments section, where I am more or less handled gently, given my age and station—Aussie great Snow McAlister worked the same angle, see below—by the gathered BG surf-hooligans who pass as fans.

I’m very much pro when it comes to pro surfing, as most of you know, not so much because I care about who is winning or losing, and certainly not because I give a shit about surfing being elevated somehow by dint of it being recognized as a “sport” (an Olympic sport, in fact), but for the simple reason that it gives us something to talk about. 

If we talk about Fred Hemmings’ world title win in 1968, for example, we’re that much closer to talking about Wayne Lynch not winning in 1968, even though he was a mile ahead of everybody else in the contest. That kind of thing. 

Surf contests are occasionally worthy in and of themselves, as discrete events, but mostly they just get us to another, juicier topic, and I’m all for keeping the conversation rolling.

Anyway, a couple of thoughts on what happened and did not happen at Lower Trestles.

There were some red-hot moments yesterday, but we most certainly did not get a full seven hours’ worth of exciting premium-grade surfing. We never will, as long as the Finals Day venue is Trestles. 

But hold that thought and let’s pause for a moment to consider the Finals Day concept itself, because I’ve very much gone back and forth on this. 

The Finals Day format, as most of you already know, is basically the idea of playoffs, which we didn’t used to have. A one-day event, five surfers on the men’s side, five on the women’s side; the top-ranked surfers from what I guess we now have to call the “regular season.” 

On Finals Day, the #5 seed goes against #4, the winner takes on #3, and so on up the ladder until the #1 seed meets whoever comes out on top of the previous three heats. That’s the new format. Or not “new,” exactly, it’s been in place for three years. Easy to understand. Every heat (except the final pairing, which is best two out of three) is very much do-or-die, and it makes for great viewing.

In the old format, the familiar format, it having been in place for 40-plus years—but let’s not forget the IPS (now the WSL) more or less superseded the one-event championship format from the ’60s and early ’70s, which was pretty close to the current Finals Day format; damn, it is confusing—the champion was the surfer who collected the most points throughout the year, like Formula One racing

There is a downside to the new Finals Day system. A big downside, some might argue. Carissa Moore would have two more world title trophies on the mantel if we were still using the old format, and it is hard to disagree with the idea that surfing your way to a massive points lead over the course of the year and then having the title decided (and lost) in a two-out-of-three match held in low-wattage C-plus waves is bullshit. 

On the other hand, we’re talking professional sports here, where the whole idea is to entertain fans, and while our entertainment depends at least partly on fairness, the fact is the better athlete or the better team often loses. 

All the time, in fact. 

It happens in the Olympics, the Superbowl, at Wimbledon, on and on. 

Under the old format, the pro surfing game—and the more you think of it, and yes discount it, as a game, the better; as opposed to regular before-work after-school day-in-the-life surfing, that is—favored the better rounded, most consistent competitors. It still does, to some degree, as you have to work through the season to get a final five slot in order to have a shot at the title. 

But now, in addition, you have to monster-up and crush whoever comes at you on Finals Day, with no safety net of already-earned points below you, just 35 minutes to beat the other person in the lineup. 

The amount of pressure involved here is no doubt excruciating. Some thrive on it. Others do not, Carissa first and foremost—she’s been in the final heat on Finals Day three years in a row, and even the year she won (2021) she was not on her game.

So you could argue that is unfair. I certainly have. 

But I’ve come around. 

Finals Day is designed for the spectator, the fan, not the pros themselves. It creates a guaranteed entertaining day of viewing. In 40-plus years under the old system, going back to 1976, how many down-to-the-wire nailbiting world title showdowns did we have? Ten or 15, I’m guessing, men and women combined, which leaves a lot of years—most years; a big majority of years—when the last contest of the season was by and large just a matter of reshuffling the numbers a bit to get the finals ratings sorted out. 

Not boring, but not dependably exciting. The new Finals Day format is always exciting, and let’s give credit where it is due—thank you WSL, and thank you Erik Logan, you did us a solid there. Finals Day is the way to go.

In theory, anyway. Not in practice. Because the WSL never, ever does not step on its own dick, and holding Finals Day at Lower Trestles three years running is so aggressively and spectacularly wrong-headed that I would at this point vote to go back to the old format, with Pipeline as the last event of the year and the champ picked by aggregate points over the season.

Trestles for the first year? Okay, why not, make it easy on everybody I guess. Trestles three years in a row? That’s basically an insult, a fuck-you to the pros, to the fans, to the game. 

Finals Day belongs in Indonesia or the South Pacific or maybe Hawaii if you really need to baby out and stay close to home. It does not belong anywhere near Lower Trestles, and keeping it there year after year turns this thing into a low-stakes hostage situation. 

As fans, we’ve been frog-marched to Lowers. The pros, I’m guessing—apart from Toledo who lives in nearby San Clemente, is scared of big tropical reef waves, and knows Lowers better than you know the opening lines of your favorite Taylor Swift song—hate Lowers Finals Day even more than we do.

Lots of other minor complaints about what happened yesterday, but let’s instead throw huzzahs to Toledo and Ethan Ewing’s opening heat, which was a masterful pas de deux of high-performance surfing, and also to Caroline Marks who opened the day by putting much daylight between herself and Tyler Wright and kept her distance and pace during two heats against Carissa, and the goofyfooted pride of Melbourne, FLA, will wear the crown well.

Read JP Currie’s excellent Finals Day wrap-up here, and in fact I will steal his beautiful denouement, which has to do with the ongoing and very lively debate on the merits and demerits of the performances turned in by Toledo and an emphatically healed Ethan Ewing.

Some of you will be quietly seething tonight. All you style puritans who believe, truly believe, that you remember one or two turns which felt like Ethan Ewing’s look. All of you would prefer him as your world champion. Not because he is clearly and objectively better than Filipe Toledo, but because he’s more like you. Toledo’s surfing, on the other hand, is so far beyond the pale that we can’t possibly know what it’s like to venture there.

And more of you still will have deep, aching reservations about a double world champion with a mortal fear of heavy waves, especially left-handed tropical reefs. I love that I can say that to you without the need to explain it. Because you’ve all witnessed it with me. And I could try and explain it to someone outside surfing and they wouldn’t really get it. 

They wouldn’t really understand what it means to have a world champ who bears the weight of an asterisk from all those who know and admire him.

So I say we should celebrate this little anomaly. It’s just another weird little quirk of this game to enjoy. An in-joke in a fringe sport, but one that you understand.

Because it’s your sport. Your odd little hobby that mainstream audiences will never appreciate.

Laugh at it. Rage at it. Love it.

And thanks for laughing, raging and loving along with me.

And thank YOU, JP, for not suing me for plagiarism.