Do you really believe Kelly Slater just retired from pro surfing?

There's been so many iterations of the Kelly Slater retirement that he has made it an art form, dear friends.

Several months heretofore, the world’s second oldest active pro athlete Kelly Slater 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.

Yesterday, after losing in the round of 32 to world number one Griffin Colapinto, Kelly Slater again quit. 

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. 

Is this the end? 

Chas Smith says non!

“You actually think hat Kelly Slater is retiring? You think somehow that this year, this time, was the time that he decided to hang it up? Do you forget the 26 other times that he said he was gonna hang it up? Do you somehow not remember when Joel Parkinson was retiring? Oh, what was Kelly Slater gonna do too? Retire. Do you not remember? When he actually did retire during the Andy Irons years, that was a long time ago. There’s been so many iterations of the Kelly Slater retirement that he has made it an art form, dear friends. And this latest gambit, this latest show, we’ll say, is a bit of acting, theatre. 

“He will certainly continue to surf. That is a far-forgone conclusion. He will surf in Tahiti, he will surf in Fiji, he will surf and he will surf and he will surf again. But how does he beat this retirement? I don’t know. This was… the Oscar award-winning retirement.”

Thoughts? Opinions? 








Open Thread: Comment Live, Day Four of the Margaret River Pro!

Wineries, "big energy" and slain GOATs.

Kelly Slater (pictures) stares into the outer unknown.
Kelly Slater (pictures) stares into the outer unknown.

Kelly Slater forced to confront the pallbearers waiting at the shoreline as wind and lull ravage Margaret River’s bracket stage

"Walking on a dream."

Evening had long since fallen in the Highlands of Scotland as day was dawning in the feted west of Australia. A land where fine wine flows through creeks and every edifice is imbued with indigenous culture and doubtless edible and delicious to boot.

Western Australia is a veritable Wonka land, a point hammered by the WSL every time the Tour stops here.

But we don’t care about that, we care about waves. This morning, there were some. For the first few heats at least, before the wind cast its raggedy spell and ruined it for everyone.

The unlikely figures of Barron Mamiya and Yago Dora were eliminated, owing to equally unlikely strong performances from Reef Heazlewood and Kelly Slater.

For Dora, this season has been nothing less than a shocker. Just above the cut line and with four men below him still in the event, it’s almost certain he’s gone. Given he was a perennial top five threat last season, he will be a loss.

Not so much of a loss is Tour whipping boy Deivid Silva, dead last in the rankings. Ironically, his death spasms today resulted in by far his strongest performances of the season in back-to-back heats in which he didn’t even get the chance to leave the water.

He ran John Florence close in the first heat of the round of 32, notching a pair of mid-eights for critical backhand surfing that I’d entirely forgotten he was capable of. But too late were his gasps for life, and he will only be missed by the high seeds who drew him.

Florence had a pair of eights of his own, showing glimpses of the Margaret River mastery for which he’s so lauded.

“Finally, there’s waves, I can just go surf”, said Florence, with exasperation we all feel on his behalf.

But the waves were to peter out before long. First came the lulls, then came the wind.

Gabriel Medina was able to dispatch Ryan Callinan without looking quite like his assured self. Both sat for five minutes or more to end the heat, with Callinan unable to attempt a wave. A dire way to go.

Medina vs Florence in the round of 16 is a marquee match-up that should recall previous tussles here where each traded nines amidst consistent, solid walls. Post heat, Medina, like Florence, expressed his wish for waves. But the reality of the forecast means this meeting will likely have all the shine of spoiled fruit.

Another intriguing heat in the round of 16 is the meeting of the Pupo brothers. There can be no familial favours in this one. Both men are below the cut line, both need a win to assure their future.

The future, and the past, was very much a theme of today. It was centred, as pro surfing so often has been, around Kelly Slater. Even if the day had the air of a retirement he hadn’t quite agreed to.

His elimination heat was like an obituary. Ronnie and Richie eulogised throughout, as all the pundits do. But there was a tone of finality this time, a wrapping up rather than a remembrance.

In the water, oblivious, Slater was undeterred. He attacked the heat early, and with the verve of a much younger man, notching a 7.17 for searing carves and backing up with a mid-five. It was nearly enough to win the heat, but he was pipped by rookie Cole Houshmand, advancing nevertheless in second position and sending Yago Dora home for good.

In his first post-heat interview of the day he was all business, giving a surgical breakdown of who did what and when. Retirement? What retirement? It was the ghost in the room.

But after crashing back to earth with a lacklustre loss to Griffin Colapinto in the gathering breeze, Slater was forced to confront the pallbearers waiting at the shoreline.

He was hoisted high and chaired up the beach, but there was something discomforting about it. I couldn’t escape the overwhelming sense that Slater, although gracious, had gritted teeth.

They were taking grandad out for a nice lunch. And oh, should we just pop in here for a look on the way back? isn’t this a lovely place? Aren’t these people friendly? Look, your own room with a big red cord to pull if you need to! Perhaps you could stay awhile?

We’ll just be down the road, of course. A million miles away.

Yet Slater rallied in the post heat interview with Stace Galbraith. He was still fighting, still breaking down the heat and what went wrong. He’d had a fight with this wave his whole career, he said. It wasn’t a wave he wanted to end on. And oh, he’s applied for a wildcard for Fiji, and Renato asked him if he fancied surfing on the Gold Coast CS event, too. He might if Snapper looked good, just for some fun.

But when Galbraith asked him if he had a personal message for friends and family, there was a heavy pause.

Slater welled up, fought back tears he wasn’t ready to spill.

It wasn’t all roses, he said.

We understood the subtext. The things that must be sacrificed at the altar of mastery.

And then the moment passed and he was back to talking about pro surfing again, looking to heats present and future. He still had that hope out there, he said.

But I felt for him then. He was a man forced, finally, to confront the hard realities of time and change. His was a life rooted in pro surfing. Yes, a life of objective privilege, but the only one he’s known. And the only life you know is still the hardest to let go. Winning surf competitions has been the nucleus around which all else has hovered.

“If I get a wildcard or two I could end up against Griffin again. I’ll pay him back.”

It was tongue-in-cheek, but also dead serious. He was still looking to a future in a vest, not away from it. Not entirely.

He was right. This isn’t how it ends. Not being chaired up the beach after losing in wind-blown three-footers at Main Break.

The universe has been kind to him, as he acknowledged. He’s had a lot of luck. And I sense it’s not quite over. It might not be this year, maybe not even the next. And he won’t top a podium. But I’m sure we’ll see Slater win once more, even if it’s just a heat.

It will be in Fiji, or Teahupo’o or Pipe. The barrels will be thick and beautifully terrifying, and Kelly Slater will stand in the centre of one, calm amidst the chaos

He will draw into the charred wreck of himself once more.

And he will win again.

And then it’ll be over.

Kelly Slater (pictured) delivering epic performance.
Kelly Slater (pictured) delivering epic performance.

All-time surf great Kelly Slater pulls best retirement prank yet!

Huzzah, huzzah!

He ain’t called the GOAT for nothing, friends. Kelly Slater, 56.5 years old, pulled his best retirement prank yet after losing to Griffin Colapinto in Margaret River’s round of 32 yesterday afternoon. After a searing opening wave followed by a sneaky tube, the 11x world champion bowed out to the current number one with a total score of 6.7.

Oh. Sorry. I guess the searing opening wave and sneaky tube came during the elimination round where he snuck through under San Clementine Cole Houshmand’s spray.

The first collaborators in his ruse, or maybe its first victims (like Austria), were the two gentlemen who chaired Slater up the stairs. The second was Stace Galbraith, who interviewed him in front of the Western Australian Tourism Board’s step-and-repeat. The almost two-time father spoke about his performance, how he just couldn’t muster the energy to care, and even stopped, appearing choked up, the end nigh etc.

It was a masterful bit of acting that even had Mick Fanning thoroughly convinced.

“What you did for the sport of surfing is unrivalled,” Australia’s sorta answer to Slater posted on Instagram. “Pushing the limits of what is possible. The dedication to your craft inspired everyone to become better. Thank you for all the memories and battles. It was truly an honour to share heats, surfs and experiences over the years. You taught me what it takes to become a champion in and out of the water. Wishing you all the very best for the future and your new growing family. Love and respect.”

The social media floodgates, then, opened with anyone who has thought about dipping a toe into the brine paying respects and wishing well. Stab Magazine got in on the action with an entire feature illiterately titled “The King is Dead. Long Live the GOAT.”

What is that even supposed to mean?

But more to the point, how did everyone fall so hard?

This is Slater’s twenty-sixth consecutive official time “retiring” though certainly not his last. He will continue to surf on tour exactly how he has surfed on tour for the past five years i.e. showing up for the events he enjoys, skipping those he doesn’t. The only difference now is that he won’t feel the need to make excuses except old habits die hard and he will continue to make excuses.

To that I say huzzah. None of us are, let’s be honest, ready to see Slater off into the sunset. We need him more than ever… oh that’s not true. He needs us more than ever what with fatherhood staring down the barrel at him for the second time.

And doesn’t it feel good to be wanted even if only as an excuse not to change diapers?

Huzzah, huzzah.

Oprah Winfrey with surfer Laird Hamilton and former WSL CEO Erik Logan
Erik Logan in happier times with the Big O and Laird Hamilton.

Dumped WSL CEO Erik Logan “more vulnerable about personal life than ever” in new confessional

“I was honest about my stroke, recovery, my failed marriages, and the painful estrangement from my teenage daughters.”

The former head of the World Surf League Erik Logan, a man who wears baby blue ties and palm brushes his Cocaine Cowboy cut off a tanned forehead, has continued his run of Substack confessionals with his most “vulnerable” post yet.

Erik Logan, whose almost five-year tenure as pro surfing’s north star was cut short on a moody June day in 2023 with no reason given, asks, “The Price of a Dream: are the sacrifices worth it?”

After opening with a reference to Oprah Erik Logan writes:

There was never a conscious thought of what I was not doing or missing; it was always about being there and taking advantage of whatever opportunity came my way. Making sacrifices and doing whatever it took to get the next job became ingrained into me in my teenage years.

This ingrained drive continued for three decades. Blinders are on, head down, onto the next bigger job, one with more visibility, more notoriety, and always more. The more choices there were, the more sacrifices there were. I got married twice, twice divorced, and had two beautiful daughters. While I was working to provide a life for them well beyond anything I had ever had, I tried to justify my pathology of this “all in” at any cost by doing things for my family. I told myself, “I’m sacrificing this for my family.” Which is true, but also not the most honest. Accuracy and truth are not the same thing – things can be accurate and not truthful.

Recently, I encountered a stranger after a speech I gave to a group of entrepreneurs. It was a formal, black-tie event, and I was the keynote speaker. Never being one to miss a great conversation, I always stay after, meeting people who want to say hi and talk a bit more. It’s also a great chance to pick up a few more clients! In my keynote that night, I was more vulnerable about my personal life than ever. I was honest about my stroke, recovery, my failed marriages, and the ongoing painful estrangement from my teenage daughters. A woman approached after waiting in line to ask a question. The wisdom of age and the aura of her presence clued me in quickly; she was different. After a few seconds of small talk, she asked:

“Was it all worth it?” Nothing more, Nothing less.

And, here, the truth of ambition is revealed.

Tears began to well up, and I froze, mumbled something, and then embarrassingly said, “I don’t know, probably not.”  I keep coming back to that moment wondering if my mother or father was speaking to me through her; of course, who knows, but regardless, I needed to hear that exact question at that exact time in my life. She quickly smiled and said, “I could tell.”  Just as fast as she appeared, she was gone.  

That exchange shook and recalibrated me and changed my view on this issue—the idea of chasing dreams without heavily weighing the context of sacrifices. I have always been comforted by putting in the work or knowing what it will take to achieve my goals. I always focused on the objective ahead and knew what work would be required. Still, part of my philosophy was to consider the sacrifices as secondary—only to be figured out later.   

So, was it worth it? Honestly, at the time, I didn’t know; it was a very confusing situation.   

The turmoil in my personal life for the past three years and currently is ample evidence to answer “No,”  yet that doesn’t feel right either. My career and choices have brought joy, comfort, valuable mentors, and wisdom, as well as a bountiful life to my family, so what’s the answer?  Still confused, as I reflect – I just don’t know. 

And, now that he’s surfer, Erik Logan won’t be chasing the cash anywhere there ain’t waves.

Life loves to test you. A headhunter recently reached out with an opportunity to interview for a CEO job.  A big company, a name we all have heard, would pay well, great benefits, but it would require a move.  It’s a place with no surfing, bodies of water that would freeze in winter, and far away from my bubble in Manhattan Beach.  Most of all, it would take me away from the tribe and community that I have fostered, filled with people who love and support me.  My tribe knows me thoroughly and knows all my challenges and shortcomings; leaving this place and people would not be worth the sacrifice – not anywhere close.  It is radical for me to admit this and put it in writing. Ten, fifteen, twenty years ago, I would pack my bags, run toward this job, say YES, and throw caution to the wind – leaving a wake of emotional and untold mess behind.

Earlier confessionals included a lengthy screed detailing his cataclysmic descent from 42-year-old beginner surfer, loving everything surf, to architect of the entire sport with all its ensuring baggage. Stroke, heart surgery, divorce, losing his WSL job and surprise pivot from surfing and into tennis!

“We’ve all been told, ‘Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.’ Or maybe, ‘Follow your passion; the money will follow you.’  There are countless variations on this theme,” wrote Erik Logan.

As it was then, as it is now, unmissable.

Read the full 20,000 word confessional here.