Ever year folks question Kelly Slater's ability to repeat his success. 2012 is no different. Photo: ASP/Kirstin

Ever year folks question Kelly Slater's ability to repeat his success. 2012 is no different. Photo: ASP/Kirstin


The Inertia

No disrespect to Mr. Kelly Slater, the undisputed greatest competitive surfer of all time, but it is highly unlikely that Kelly will win a 12th World Title in 2012. Winning the ASP Men’s World Title is an extremely difficult accomplishment for even the greatest of surfers, and this year, the field is too deep and too hungry.

Early rounds during this year’s season will see Kelly facing young surfers like Gabriel Medina, Kolohe Andino, Miguel Pupo, and John John Florence. Any of these surfers could prove an achilles heel to Kelly in smaller subpar conditions where they will be able to display their “future is now” aerial-charged surfing. Additionally, John John is more than capable of taking down Kelly in any conditions, and at any of the 2012 ASP WCT venues. Kelly will also be seeded against very tough wildcards during Rounds 1, 2 and possibly 3 of each event. Wildcards have been an issue for Kelly in the past, and at all the stops of the 2012 tour they could spell doom for Kelly’s title aspirations.

The middle rounds of each event will find Kelly facing quite possibly more beatable opponents, but still tough competition all the same. Add to this the fact that each of these opponents will be fighting for valuable tour points, in their bids to not only stay on the Tour, but to attempt to rise to or remain in the top 10. This means Kelly will have a dog fight on his hands against very talented surfers such as Michel Bourez, Julian Wilson, Brett Simpson and Adam Melling just to name a few

The business end of each event will find Kelly facing very fierce and hungry competition the likes of Josh Kerr (who got the best of Kelly in the quarter finals at Snapper), Adriano DeSouza, Owen Wright, Mick Fanning, Jordy Smith, Joel Parkinson and Taj Burrow. Each of these surfers have beaten Kelly in the past, and fall under the category of “the usual suspects”, meaning they each have a propensity for making the quarter finals or higher at any given ASP WCT event. The depth of competitive surfing talent and knowledge among this tier of the Men’s tour will not allow for Kelly to go on one of his multiple event wins in 2012.

All of these challenges might be enough to motivate Kelly to break down a new set of barriers and standards in 2012, but it seems unlikely. Look for every heat that Kelly competes in this year to be a major battle.

Hopefully, for the fans and surfing’s sake, Kelly will compete in all of the events on the 2012 ASP World Tour schedule. Kelly competing in the remaining events of the 2012 season would serve two purposes for the sport and its fans. First, the fans are sure to witness great sports drama during every heat that Kelly competes in during the 2012 ASP Men’s WCT season. Secondly, it might allow our sport the opportunity to witness the changing of the guard – the dethroning of an 11x World Champion.


  • Steve Briggs

    Wow, you are sooooooooooooo wrong.  Have you been paying attention to his career?  He has beaten the best in how many generations?  Didn’t he just beat Owen in the best competitive year in Owens life?!  You point out that he will have to face Bourez, Wilson, Simpson and Melling who he can beat in his sleep.  As for Taj he owns him.  Look to New York for evidence to prove that.  Taj was owned by a move right out of his own air playbook.  Kellys air was possibly the move of the year for the Tour.  If there is one thing to not bet on with Kelly it is that he can’t do something.  Don’t ever bet against Slater.

  • Sammy2x

    Pointless article.

  • Glickrp

    You forget that Kelly is the only wave whisper on the tour and could Easley knock out any competitor.

  • Chasen Marshall

    Have you been watching surfing the past 20 years? If so, you should know that what Kelly has done in his career disproves your entire arguement. Critics have been trying to predict the end of Kelly’s reign for a decade, and look at the result. What you’ve written is nothing original and nothing substantial. Yes, there’s talent in the 2012 ASP World Tour. Yes, John John may one day rule the surfing empire. Yes, Kelly’s getting older. But Jordy and Dane were also once predicted to send Kelly into the proverbial sunset. Didn’t happen. It’s true, Kelly may not win No. 12 in 2012. He may finish second or fifth or not even do the full Tour. But he’s still one of the best all-around surfers in the world who’s proven, if anything, that it’s unwise to count him out.

  • Bert

    You’re right, Slater won’t be world champion this year, because JJ Florence is so good he’ll be crowned in september.

  • Slinkysurfboards

    Kelly has tricks up his sleeve and he has many many more sleeves than everyone. He’s kept up and adapted through decades of surfing progression and still dominates. Sure john Florence an andino are young threats and have what it takes to dethrone slater, but comon, it’s slater. Nothing is scarier than drawing slater in a heat, and I promise these groms, or anyone on tour won’t be confident against slater in any conditions. Don’t put all your eggs in the “slaters gunna loose basket” , u might not be eating eggs for breakfast.

  • walrus

    nice try but, it seems that this could have been written at the start of any of Kelly’s last ten seasons.  Just change a couple of names and adjust the order of meeting and ‘same ole same ole’…..he will end his career when he decides to end his career.  I’m not that sure that the other surfers on tour will have that much to say about it…..

  • gUEST

    It’s only a matter of if he wants it or not.

  • John Smithwick

    This is such a poorly written article. It doesn’t say anything of value. Yes, he will be competing as he always has. Great point there Michael.

  • Connollyvta

    Did a 3rd grader write this?

  • Wildrnes

    Luckily you are not a gambling man. Kelly can win marathons. He has done so 11 times. And he has taken out at least 4 maybe 5 generations of elite professional surfers all the way from Ho to J. Florence.

    Also, the ASP One World ranking is based on point accumulation. Kerr to Medina may beat Kelly in one or two events, however, overall K makes most of his heats and puts points in his bag. He knows how to pace it out. He really is never hot or cold. Many of the usual suspects mentioned are on the cusp of hot or cold. Look at Medina- in form in beach breaks last year then way out of touch during the Quik Pro at Snapper’s this year.

    Again, Kelly has been crowned many times in a few events short of finishing the World Tour leg in Hawaii. Brazil usually and last year California. He was well ahead of his rivals. He has done this so many times. Mathematically out of reach to all of his rivals with them having to fight for second place in Hawaii.

    So, 12 times is not out of the question. Yes, Kelly will be beaten but remember that a competition is only one hill in the race. We are talking about a competitor who knows how to reserve energy, strike, and understands the judging criteria like the back of his hand.  

     In addition,Kelly is also evolving constantly. He is changing his game to meet the new school’s criteria. More airs, more panache! He constantly shows a willingness to learn from the younger generations. He cites Kerr and Reynolds as major influences to his surfing.

    If Kelly does not get a 12th title it will be because he chose to miss events due to some epic swell hitting Chopes or because he was having a Dane moment and decided to hippie-it-up and surf Rincon and go to few Animal Collective or Beirut shows.

    Okay, time to get back to the surf forecast! Cheers. 

  • Bushy

    So let me get this right…Kelly Slater needs to win heats against other proffessional surfers on the tour to win the world title, jeez who would have thought?

  • Igraba

    pfft. Ridiculous article.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jack.beresford Jack Beresford

    You don’t tug on Superman’s cape.

  • Luciano

    That was the worst article I have read in a long time. Weak, weak arguments.

  • Firsttime_Poster

    LOL at the Kelly lovers.  Anyone following surfing over the years knows that as soon as he’s behind, he threatens to, or does in fact, quit.  If he doesn’t final at bells, he’s gone.

  • andrew

    and with this article i’m deleting the inertia from my bookmarks.

  • Anonymous

    i thought the inertia was going to be the ‘grantland’ of surfing. i was terribly mistaken. this site was supposed to have some of the best talent producing great original content but has fallen way short with posts like this one. while there have been a few great write-ups, this one is enough to delete the inertia from my bookmarks. if anything is worth reading, i suppose the link will pop up on twitter.

  • Shaafi

    I guess that’s exactly what Kelly needs – a challenge. In his own words(and much like most people) he’s at his best when his back’s against the wall. But then again everyone, even Kelly slater will age.