Kelly Slater at Snapper Rocks, Gold Coast.
Kelly Slater, unimpaired it seems, by recent-ish hip surgery. | Photo: Pauly

Injured Kelly Slater stuns surf fans with Gold Coast cameo!

Three days after his now-famous turn of the Hawaiian winter, Kelly Slater washes away the human taint at Snapper Rocks…

Surf fans on the Australia’s Gold Coast were left slack-jawed today after Kelly Slater made a surprise appearance at the Supabank, despite carrying the baggage of recent-ish hip surgery. 

The fifty-two-year-old was passionately mobile on the perfect east-swell fermented waves, running  without hindrance or limp back to the point after several long rides. 

“Kelly Slater fought back tears from his injury pain but still managed to jag some,” one surf fan wrote to BeachGrit.

Although clips of Kelly Slater are yet to drop, the quality of the waves today was impeccable.

We may hate the Supabank crowd, the insanity of their flailing gestures, their erratic scissoring gait, their aimless stumbling ways, the tombstone whiteness of their faces, but all it takes is one ride, like this local’s wave, below, to make it all fade away.

And, this drainer from yesterday starring indigenous teen Lungi Slabb,


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Only one week ago, the same surf fans were shocked when Kelly Slater withdrew from the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal, blaming his no-show on the slow recovery from surgery to repair the ring of cartilage that lines the rim of the hip joint socket.

A little over six months back, orthopaedic surgeon Warren Kramer gave Slater a Labral reconstruction where “They took a cadaver’s labrum, inserted it and tied it to my bone,” Slater explained.

“Warren said my Labrum was basically shredded from end to end…there were bone spurs on the femur head…I also had a lot of scar tissue. Warren got in there and said it looked like a war zone, said he had to get in there and chop through the woods.”




Griffin Colapinto, aerial, MEO Rip Curl Pro, Portugal, 2024.
The Gandhi of Surfing, Griffin Colapinto, soars above the vastness of the Atlantic, his frozen muscles flexing as they awaken. | Photo: WSL

“You slept, lip curled into a jingoist sneer, wondering why they hold surf contests in f*#king Portugal!”

And while you slept, you missed a damn fine day of professional surf action.

The storm had passed. Beyond the shore, a beckoning horizon divided sea and sky. Azure jostled with cobalt to capture the heart. Vasco da Gama himself would have swooned.

Somewhere west, across this Atlantic vastness and more, you likely slept, lip curled into a jingoist sneer, wondering why they hold surf contests in fucking Portugal.

But if you know, you know. 

Whilst you slept (tumbleweeds blowing through the BG live comment section, nary a meme nor wit to be seen) you missed a damn fine day of professional surf action.

You missed barrels (a few), airs (a few more) and turns (lots) on critical sections of peaky, highly contestable beachbreak. There were rights and lefts aplenty, and aside from a short delay to account for the lowest point of the tide, competition bubbled on through high and low water.

Twenty-four heats of men’s professional surfing were accomplished using the overlapping heat format, which I maintain should be the standard in all but finals.

John John Florence began the day with a deep tube that elicited an 8.67 from the judges, but would not foreshadow the rest of the day, nor Florence’s success.


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Barrels were in evidence at Supertubos, albeit rare.

Matt McGillivray found the best of the day early on, a clean and open right hander, glazed green and sparkling in the morning light. But the 8.90 he scored was not enough to quell Italo’s Ferreira’s juiced up airshow on the lefts.

Italo was at his quivering best in the peaky beachbreak. He spun high and fast with gay abandon to defeat McGillivray in one of the many match-ups today that pitted contrasting styles and characters against one another.

It struck me that these match-ups were made possible by the much maligned location. Only the most ardent tube pigs were disadvantaged on a day like today.

You could go any direction, in any style.

If you wanted to do airs, you could do airs.

If you preferred to stick to turns, that was just as good.

Forehand, backhand, it didn’t matter.

Sit on someone’s shoulder, or paddle down the beach to your own peak. All games were in play, and it led to some pleasing contrasts and self-expression.

“I have all the arsenal,” said Italo after beating McGillivray.

Unfortunately, so did Ethan Ewing, who quelled him in the round of 16.

Ewing hadn’t looked assured at all in his round of 32 heat with Deivid Silva. “Beauty and the beast” I noted during their heat, watching Silva’s boxy backhand attack.

An imperfect analogy, granted, since there can be no commonality found in the approach of each man. I meant only that there was a jarring discrepancy in watching a contest between the two. But despite this, the beast had a little more energy, and Ewing’s beauty only just squeaked the victory.

His defeat of Italo in the next round was more like it. Italo pumped down the line on the lefts, looking only to launch, while Ewing stuck to the rights. Ferreira’s tail-high spins into whitewater were technically proficient, but less pleasing on the eye than Ewing’s flow.

Had Ferreira introduced a bit of variety and unleashed the backhand hacks he’s capable of, the heat might have played out differently.

The best wave of the heat, rightly, was an 8.17 for Ewing, bookended by a vicious layback hook under the lip and an inch perfect exclamation on the closeout section.

Ewing will face Ramzi Boukhiam in the quarter final. A match-up that may sound one-sided on paper, but not on evidence of today.

Boukhiam has not fulfilled the journeyman stereotype so far this season. His backhand surfing on the righthanders of Supertubos was incisive and powerful today, first seeing off fellow goofy Connor O’Leary, then Yago Dora in the round of 16.

The heat with Dora was another clash of styles. Boukhiam hunted mainly rights, while Dora went left with a similar mindset to Ferreira. But the heat was surprisingly one-sided. Ramzi struck early, sending spray arcing towards the horizon. An 8.50 and no argument. His impeccably timed vertical hooks on his backhand belied his conditioning on the right points of his homeland. Dora forced some airs but seemed largely off-colour.

On good form today were mainland USA’s young hopefuls. The Colapinto brothers and Jake Marshall will all surf quarter-finals tomorrow, the latter by virtue of a deserved victory over John John Florence.

Crosby Colapinto vanquished childhood friend Cole Housmand in the round of 16. Housmand had done away with Jordy Smith in the earlier heat to get there, and at this early stage of the season he looks like the pick of the San Clemente rookies for my tastes.

With the cut looming, he’ll need a good result at Bells and/or MR, but he might just be built for exactly that.

Another pair of childhood frenemies, Leo Fioravanti and Kanoa Igarashi, met in the round of 16. Graciously, Fioravanti took the win with an unlikely barrel at the death of the heat. And I say graciously only because I’ve become entirely bored by Kanoa’s surfing.


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Never boring is Gabriel Medina, and today he was back to his impervious self. Sort of.

His surfing was on point, best evidenced by clean rotations performed within the flow of his rides, and the insurmountable combination he rained down on Jack Robinson within the first couple of minutes of their round of 16 bout.

But sort of, because his post heat interview was…perplexing. I implore you to watch it.

“Come on guys,” he said, addressing seemingly everyone and no-one, but breaking the fourth wall as he looked to camera, “put some laughs on Tour. Let’s make it fun.”

His cadence was wandered, his eyes like peeholes in snow.

I’m sure it’s just the new persona he’s trying to force upon himself in light of his recent mental health and relationship issues, but I couldn’t help but feel something was off.

I was unsettled.

The voices in the booth compounded this sense of reality spiralling away.

Evans cast profundity into the afternoon glare.

“You can do all your prep, get your training dialled in, and have everything come together,” he wisdomed. “But ultimately, in the final seconds of a heat, you’re looking for a bit of energy that came from a storm thousands of miles away in an ocean.”

“Is that a horse reference?” Kaipo asked.

I pondered Portugal’s decriminalisation policies.

Another reason to visit, surf contest or no.

All in all the contest was absolutely worthwhile today, whether you slept through it or not. We need a European Tour stop and Peniche is as good as anywhere, especially if they’re willing to be mobile. Perhaps a little more than just a shift along the beach to Molhe Leste as they did the previous day. Though that certainly served the purpose of running heats despite the adverse forecast.

They’ll likely finish tomorrow at Supertubos.

To be honest, the remaining forecast really isn’t great, but I’d still watch a contest here over Trestles.

Tyler Wright (pictured) breathing through a straw.
Tyler Wright (pictured) breathing through a straw.

Surfing miracle Tyler Wright wows medical establishment by overcoming most insane health obstacle yet!

“I’ve had a fair few doctors and specialists tell me they don’t know how I do what I do."

Tyler Wright continues to defy science. The two-time World Surf League champion has overcome obstacle after obstacle, each one more critical, each one more unfavorable than the last, as part of her professional surfing journey. From having a dad that made her surf when she was young, grouchily, to overcoming, debilitating post-viral syndrome, Wright has truly etched her visage on the Mount Rushmore of inspirational heroes.

Right between Def Leppard’s Rick Allen and the chicken that lived for 18-months without her head.

Now, the brave 29-year-old has admitted to beating the most insane health hurdle yet.

Perpetual suffocation.

After advancing to the quarters in Portugal, Wright declared, “I’ve had a fair few doctors and specialists tell me they don’t know how I do what I do. I found out that most of the time I’m under-oxygenated and semi-suffocating. My airways are too small basically, and over the off-season I had it expanded. Honestly it’s been life-changing, it’s the sanest I’ve ever felt. It’s really successful, it’s changing my life, but it’s also a process and that’s only step one and a half of a multi-step process.”

One of multi-steps was getting seven screws drilled into her head.

“So through the off-season I got a maxillary palatal expander [a device that widens the mouth] in. Essentially I’ve got seven screws in my head, between nine and 17 millimetres [in length] and in the off-season I expanded it. Essentially it popped the bone and I got seven millimetres [added airway space] through that.”

But can you imagine performing at a championship-level all while choking to death?

You can’t because you are merely human and not a surfing medical miracle.


Comment live, MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal, “Surfing is nature’s most powerful aphrodisiac”

Get loaded! Unload!

Kelly Slater surfing after hip surgery.
Kelly Slater shaking off the hip labrum blues in Hawaii. | Photo: @peterkingphoto

Kelly Slater blows minds with turn of the Hawaiian season despite injury withdrawal from MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal

"Hip works."

Four days ago, the 11-time world champion Kelly Slater shocked surf fans with his sudden withdrawal from the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal, an event notorious for the number of crucial heats held in the ghastliest conditions due its proximity to Atlantic Ocean storms.

Kelly Slater, who just turned fifty-two, blamed his no-show on the slow recovery from surgery to repair the ring of cartilage that lines the rim of the hip joint socket.

The pelvis of Kelly Slater has been an ongoing issue with the star, his hip real bad ever since he did the splits on a wipeout at Sunset thirty-two years ago when he thought he’d snapped his femur. A few years later he was towing in Tahiti and  doing flips off the back of waves when he landed weird, hurt his hip, and then in the summer of 2000 he went in for surgery to clean up the mess. 

Announcing the withdrawal Slater wrote,

“Still dealing with hip recovery and still in pain with basic mobility. thanks for the messages from Portuguese fans and apologies I won’t be seeing you in Supertubos. Hoping to feel better for Bell’s (the first event I surfed as a full time tour surfer in 1992). Fingers crossed the World Surf League scores some good waves in Portugal and good luck to everyone.”

Portugal has never been kind to Kelly Slater. A couple of world titles were pulled from his grip after losing to local wildcards in awful low-tide conditions. At the time it seemed an undignified end for the greatest of all time, like an old-aged In-N-Out worker slinging burgers and fries in his eighth decade. 

In a subsequent Instagram story, Slater admitted “I may never sue there again.”

Anyway, surf fans were delighted to see the injury hasn’t slowed down the champ who was filmed by his anti-woke crusader boy-pal Peter King digging a fjord on a broad Hawaiian canvas.

“Hip works,” quipped Parker Coffin to which Kelly Slater replied, “Hip hurts but not twisting much or doing airs and she goes a little. Still quite a bit of pain.” 

Watch here! 

(Can’t post on BeachGrit ’cause PK blocked us etc.)

Maybe ’cause of this or this, this, this, this or this.