The MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal has been a bit of blood bath for top seeds. John John Florence, Filipe Toledo, Kanoa Igarashi, Jordy Smith, Seth Moniz, and yes, Kelly Slater were all sent packing in the first heat of the Round of 32 (add Kolohe Andino and Zeke Lau to that pack as they lost in the elimination round). Defending Portugal champ Griffin Colapinto is the lone American or Hawaiian left in the event.
After his elimination, Slater graciously showed off the competitor’s area for fans during the WSL broadcast. He posted the video piece to his stories. At the end, the 11-time world champ dropped a cryptic quote: “I’m done for the year. I might be done forever in Portugal.” The squad at The Greenroom Times used the vid on its Instagram page:
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Slater usually keeps his retirement plans close to the vest but he’s become a bit more open of late. He recently told The Guardian that if he made the team, he would retire in Tahiti in 2024 after the Olympics at Teahupo’o. If you hadn’t heard, this is a particularly important year on the CT as it will help decide many of the surfers for the 2024 Olympic teams for various countries. Kelly has made it no secret that he wants to qualify. “If I make the Olympics, I’ll retire at the Olympics,” he said.
He went on to outline for The Guardian how tough it was going to be to qualify. And now, that road seems even more difficult. The top 10 men on the CT at season’s end will earn Olympic bids while the top eight women will punch their tickets. The GOAT currently sits in a rough spot. He’s at 16 with a number of other surfers, just above the cutline. Rio Wada, Yago Dora, Italo Ferreira, Callum Robson, and Ryan Callinan are there with him at 16 but have all had solid events in Portugal, and are still waiting to surf in the Round of 16 in Portugal. Kelly will most likely be below the cutline after the event. That’s where the, “I’m done for the year” quote gets mysterious. Done for the season? Not heading to Australia? Or just done for the year in Portugal?
This could obviously be Kelly’s last season on tour, especially if he misses the cut (does anyone really see him groveling on the Challenger Series?). But is he going to pack it in ahead of the Oz leg? Bells starts April 4 followed by Margaret River on the 20th (the cut comes after MR). All eyes will be on the GOAT’s status down under. Leave it to Kelly to add intrigue with a little cryptic nugget for fans.