It’s been a minute since we’ve seen Kelly Slater surf in the ocean. He’s been dealing with a nagging foot injury all year and has spent most of his recent water time at his inland Surf Ranch in Central California. A fun day at Trestles, though, will always draw him back to the sea.
A solid late-season south swell filled in on Tuesday morning. I texted Kelly after I filmed an interview for the Surfrider Foundation in San Clemente and asked him if he wanted to surf. He said he was keen to go out later in the afternoon.
He offered to lend me an electric bike so I could bring my camera gear and surfboard to the beach and ride a few waves before he came down. I’d never ridden an electric bike before, and it was a little awkward for me at first with all of the gear, but the thing was a dream. I glided down the trail and was the on the rocks at Lowers 10 minutes later.
Kelly likes to go out in the late afternoons, so I got to surf for almost two hours before he arrived. He’s basically a Lowers local these days there, so it’s not a big deal when he shows up, but all of the surfers on the beach are focused like lasers on him whenever he catches a wave. He got a couple waves on a wide-nosed board and then switched to a more standard-looking thruster. The wind was a little onshore and the crowd was pretty thick, but Kelly looked just as loose and explosive as ever on a wave that he knows as well as any in the world.
He plans on surfing in the Pipeline Masters next month and then allegedly competing for one last year on the WSL tour in 2019. He’ll be 47 then and should be healthy and ready to go. Judge for yourself if he’s still “got it.” Everyone who saw him on Tuesday at Trestles definitely thinks he does.