This can’t have been the season Kelly Slater imagined. Having withdrawn from every contest so far this year, Slater has now officially withdrawn from Keramas – as confirmed by WSL’s Fantasy Surfing (see below), and WSL VP of Brand Identity Dave Prodan who put it, “[Kelly’s] out, Barron Mamiya in.”
Back in March, after Snapper but before Bells, Kelly explained to us that he wasn’t going to compete unless he was where he wanted to be. “I’d rather take some time, get myself in the shape I want and surfing super tuned before feeling ready,” he said.
Two months later, he hasn’t competed in a single CT event. Curious, of course, because he helmed Team USA at the inaugural Founders’ Cup and appeared (at least in this author’s humble opinion) to be in fighting shape.
It’s impossible to talk about the foot injury that keeps on giving without also speculating if the injury will be the reason Kelly Slater ultimately retires. Kelly came on the scene like a lion, but at this rate is on track to go out like a lamb – an unfitting end to any champion surfer’s career, much less the greatest of all time.
Fans of all shades might be wondering if Kelly’s wave pool is enough to drag him out to surf a heat, would not have his beloved Fiji if it hadn’t gotten cut from the tour schedule? Who knows.
As for the remainder of the year, it seems unlikely Kelly will seek a triumphant return at J-Bay, the very place responsible for his mangled hoof in the first place. That leaves Tahiti, the inaugural Surf Ranch Open, et. al.
If I had to put money on it, I’d bet Kelly will show up at Lemoore, take the W, and announce his retirement on the podium backed by his own creation. Not a world title, but poetic nonetheless, no?