Kelly Slater has had quite the career. He’s the GOAT, the winningest surfer of all time. Eleven world titles, three US Open of Surfing trophies, three Triple Crowns, eight Pipe Masters, and nearly 60 championship tour victories. And that’s just the big ones. It’s disgusting, really.
He’s got a special relationship with a lot of waves, but none quite so special as the one he has with Pipeline. Hell, remember last year, when he won the 2022 Billabong Pro Pipeline at the ripe old age of 50?
Kelly Slater didn’t become one of the greatest Pipe surfers of all time by not surfing Pipe. He’s surfed there a lot, to say the least. He’s got a house just spitting distance away. Over the years, he’s surfed a ton of great Pipe waves, but for Kelly Slater, one stands out. Which is perfect, because the WSL is currently putting out a series called “Best One Ever” in which some of the best Pipe surfers talk about a Pipe wave that stands out for them.
“One of the best waves of my life was one I caught the first year I surfed the Pipe contest in ’91,” he said.
Slater, then just 19, was in a four-man heat. He needed a wave, and he needed one badly. He paddled over towards the channel as a set rolled towards him.
“It didn’t look very big to me,” he remembered. “Maybe a five or six-footer. But it was a full-on double up joining on another swell. I ended up basically falling into this wave and someone landing with my heels in the perfect spot on the board and getting under the thickest lip of any wave I’ve ever ridden at Pipe.”