Kelly Slater comforted by a younger man while Manny Pacquiao (insert) waits his turn.
Kelly Slater comforted by a younger man while Manny Pacquiao (insert) waits his turn.

Surf icon Kelly Slater’s Olympic dream crumbles further after boxing legend Manny Pacquiao told he’s “too old” to compete

The harsh slap of age limits.

Kelly Slater’s Olympic surf dream was, let’s be honest, already dangling by only a thread. As followers of both the Olympics and surfing know, the top two men and top two women per country, on the World Surf League Championship Tour punch their ticket to the Games. A further third man and woman are additionally slotted for the country that wins Fernando Aguerre’s International Surfing Games. The rest come from… to be honest, I have no idea.

That aside, this year’s Paris Olympiad, which comes to us from The End of the Road all the way across the world in Teahupo’o would be such a magical fit for the 11x World Champion. Slater navigates the slabbing left with ease even at the ripe upper middle age of 54.

Therein lies two problems.

Slater was the fourth, or something, American on the rankings and he might be too old.

The Philippines boxing legend Manny Pacquiao, almost a decade younger than Slater at 45, was told by the International Olympic Committee that he was too old to play punch punch in the five ringed circus even after petitioning the various powers that be.


The IOC said Sunday it wrote to Olympic officials in Philippines explaining the age limit for boxers of 40 will be upheld. The IOC now oversees Olympic boxing after derecognizing the International Boxing Association governing body.

The age limit for Olympic boxing was raised to 40 from 34 in 2013 — a move that would have let Pacquiao try to compete at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. He chose not to at the time when he was also elected to be a senator in his home country.

It is unclear if Pacquiao would have tried to earn a place at the Paris Olympics in one of two qualification tournaments that open later this month in Italy and in May in Thailand.

Pacquiao won 12 world titles over the course of his illustrious career though even that did not bend the sympathies of Olympic organizers.

Slater has not hidden his desire to taste Olympic glory but it must be assumed that surfing’s age limit is lower than boxing seeing as surfing is a “cool youth sport.” What do you think it is? 28? 19? Whatever, the number is certainly smaller than the greatest surfer of all-time’s 56.

Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright. The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light. And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout but there is no joy in Cocoa Beach, Florida for Kelly has struck out.

Or has he?

More as the story develops.

Open Thread: Comment Live on “Holiday Freesurf” as brave rebels thumb noses at U.S. territorial sovereignty!

Red, white and screw you!

Ítalo Ferreira (pictured) thunder clapping.
Ítalo Ferreira (pictured) thunder clapping.

Question: Has the Brazilian Storm finally blown itself out?

Time to put the umbrellas away?

The Hurley Pro Sunset Beach is on hold today as the World Surf League stands with Hawaii’s puppet government in order to celebrate its United States of America oppressors, on this Presidents’ Day, which gives us a quick breath to ponder higher level surf thoughts. For example, will this actually actually be Kelly Slater’s last year on tour? Is Strider Wasilewski the hardest working color man in sports? And, maybe most importantly, has the Brazilian Storm finally blown itself out?

That most exciting weather event first burst upon our then semi-parched professional surfing landscape exactly one decade ago, for it was in 2014 that the menacingly handsome Gabriel Medina seemingly came out of a video game to clutch the cup. The subsequent ten years saw no less than six Brazilian championship tour wins, spread between Adriano of Souza, Ítalo Ferreira and Filipe Toledo.

Surfing’s very first Olympic run was also gold medaled by a Brazilian, though Owen Wright’s bronze was most inspirational.

It seemed, in any case, that the Storm was here to stay… forever. Like a beautiful dystopian film wherein the sun fails to shine due some naughty science tinkering.

Brazil to the moon.

But a funny thing happened on the way to forever. It seems, this year, that the clouds have evaporated.

2024 got off to an ignominious start for the land of order and progress. The big three came out very much off. Medina, thus far, looks out of whack and indifferent, Ferreira just plain weird and Filipe Toledo scared. The Storm-ettes, Doras, Pupos, etc. are still doing their thang but certainly will not threaten for a title and while Joao Chianca could, hopefully, heal up in time for the Olympics, Brazil’s shot at a back-to-back gold is fading hard.

Yago Dora is currently the highest ranked Brazilian at equal 9th, though he will drop after an early Sunset exit.

Medina is next at 17th and he will also drop.

So, the question. Is that it or is there a new secret crop of wave slayers being groomed in the other down under?


Kelly Slater retires
Kelly Slater, sombre.

Kelly Slater threatens retirement for twenty-sixth consecutive year!

Champ talks quitting after his elimination from Sunset Pro by baby-faced surfer with “plumpest and most spankable bottom in surfing”.

The world’s second oldest active pro athlete, Kelly Slater, has threatened to call it quits for the twenty-sixth consecutive year after being eliminated from the Hurley Pro at Sunset Beach. 

The just-turned fifty-two-year-old Kelly Slater, who is four years younger than the still-competing pro soccer player Kazuyoshi Miura, was narrowly beaten by Australia’s golden girl Ethan Ewing, a baby-faced twenty-five-year-old Australian with the “plumpest and most spankable bottom in surfing”.

Following the loss, Kelly Slater said he was “questioning competing to be honest with you… My confidence isn’t super high. I’ve probably surfed four sessions since [the Lexus] Pipe [Pro]. And I haven’t surfed in about something like five or six days. I just haven’t been practiced up. It doesn’t help the confidence. But I felt fine out there.”

The week previous, Kelly Slater referenced his recent hip surgery as reason, perhaps, for his inability to shine in the inconsistent three-foot waves at Pipe

“I’ve got to figure out if this hip’s good enough to compete in waves that I’ve got to do turns and stuff. About eight, 10 days ago, I had a surf and it felt absolutely terrible. I thought, ‘I shouldn’t even be in the water.’ Then I stayed out of the water for about four or five days.”

The first time Kelly Slater retired was in 1998, the then six-time world champ having just-turned twenty-six. He competed sporadically over the next few years, winning Pipe in 1999 and the Eddie in 2002, before re-joining the tour to take on Andy Irons head-on, hinting at retirement every year thereafter.

In 2018, and piggybacking Joel Parkinson’s retirement announcement at J-Bay, he said he’d officially quit by the end of the following year at age forty-seven. 

Other retirement announcements can be found here, here, here and here. 

What happens to pro surfing post-Slater?

It will lose its hub, its fulcrum, its measure of everything good, in and out of the water. There isn’t another surfer, on tour, or off tour for that matter, who can speak with the authority of the entire game behind him.

When Kelly Slater opens his mouth or taps his computer’s keyboard, the surfing world shifts to his whim and his want.

For 33 years, professional surfing has been carried by this one single man.

If he goes, does pro surfing follow?

World Surf League x North Korea: A Collaboration
World Surf League x North Korea: A Collaboration

World Surf League spackles Wall of Positive Noise after Filipe Toledo mental health break, disables public comment on live stream

It's always sunny in North Korea.

The World Surf League took heavy, and surprising, damage in this still-young 2024 Championship Tour season. Everything seemed semi-normal ahead of the Pipe Pro opener though the League’s patented Wall of Positive Noise did seem a little… tired. Maybe various executives who call the “global home of surfing” home were tired after moving desks and filing cabinets from its hip Santa Monica offices to a veterinarian office in El Segundo?

Whatever the reason, no ultra-upbeat press release was delivered about the upcoming start until minutes before the hooter actually sounded. And when it did?

All hell broke loose.

A decision not to run on an epic Pipe day because it was “too big and good” was met with a fusillade from surf fans. Two-time, and sitting, world champ Filipe Toledo failed to give an effort, looking extremely scared, then pulled the rip citing phantom food poisoning thereby sullying the formerly good names of Lei Leis, Pupukea Grill and Foodland. Surf fans continued to lob rage.

And then the Wall cracked.

Chief of Sport Jessi Miley-Dyer had to face the camera to explain why “too big and good” surf was not in the cards for that day. Toledo quit the entire tour for a year, this time citing “mental health.”

Surf fans, the commentariat, realized their power and did not let up.

Panicked, the aforementioned World Surf League chiefs decided there was only one thing to do. Return to its “cut-rate North Korean” roots and disable any public comment on its live feed.

Low quality surf fans very much enjoyed offering inconsequential opinions on the YouTube feed (as opposed to the high quality surf fans who prefer the Open Thread: Comment Live). They would argue, cajole and throw “raise the roof” emojis into the sidebar. Might there also have been light critique of the World Surf League and Filipe Toledo?


Thus, it was ripped right down with no explanation or care.

Which raises the question once again. Is the World Surf League the worst governing body on earth? Most incompetent, out of touch, arrogant?

Thoughts please.