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Kelly Slater looks back on a career that will never be rivaled.

Kelly Slater looks back on a career that will never be rivaled. Photo: Aroyan

The Inertia

Kelly Slater, the 11-time world champion, has announced that he will be retiring from the World Tour after the Bells Beach event. The move comes after an unprecedented career. As both the youngest and oldest competitor to hold world titles, it is likely that Slater’s accomplishments will never be eclipsed.

After Slater’s exit from Quiksilver exactly one year ago today, which wasn’t an April Fools’ joke, he began working on his exit strategy. With his recent foray into the business world, (acquiring a majority share in Firewire, delving into the fashion world with Outerknown, testing the energy drink market with Purps, collaborating with PBTeen, and most recently, buying the rights to Thai Stick for film production) Slater has been setting himself up to retire from surfing as, in the words of Jay-Z, much more than just a businessman… he’ll be a business, man.

“You know, it’s not just professional surfing that I’m retiring from,” he told me in a conversation we never had over the phone. “It’s surfing altogether. It’s just that I’m kind of tired of it. You know what they say: ‘if you want to ruin something you love, make it your job.'”

There can be no doubt that Kelly Slater changed the face of surfing. He almost single-handedly inspired an entire generation to ride different boards. His innovation has been a constant source of inspiration for both the public and his competitors, many of whom are breathing a sigh of relief.


“Seriously, I’m super glad this happened,” John John Florence didn’t write in email. “I mean, how long can he stay on tour? Until he wins TWELVE world titles? It’s kind of bullshit, if you ask me. Now he’s just rubbing it in our faces.”

And JJF isn’t the only one breathing a sigh of relief. Nearly every other competitor is happy he’ll be gone, at least from a professional standpoint. “I love the guy,” Gabriel Medina, the reigning world champ, did not say via skype. “But I’m just always worried that he’s going to come from nowhere and win everything. How does he do that?”

So whatever the future holds for Kelly Slater, we wish him the best of luck, and thank him for his contributions to the sport… and for being part of April Fools’.


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