Kelly Slater’s Margaret River Pro and possibly career comes to an end in round of 32 loss

Rourke Walsh in Margaret River
The West Australian
Kelly Slater is out of the WSL.
Kelly Slater is out of the WSL. Credit: Aaron Hughes/World Surf League

Surfing’s GOAT Kelly Slater is off the world tour for a second straight year after missing the mid-season cut following his elimination from the Margaret River Pro.

The 11-time world champion, widely considered the best surfer ever, bid an emotional farewell to the Margaret River crowd and was chaired up the beach stairs by locals following his round of 32 heat loss to current world No.1 and fellow American Griffin Colapinto on Tuesday.

And while he is yet to officially announce his retirement from competition, his time as a fulltime competitor on the World Surf League championship tour appears over, with the 52-year-old expecting a child with partner Kalani Miller in July and admitting he getting ready for a “different lifestyle”.

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“As far as emotions, it’s almost hit me, it’s right there and it’s bubbling,” Slater said as he choked back tears post-heat, “To have the boys chair me up . . . the support here has been unquestionable incredible over the years and I’ve never really had a good result here.

“I’ve had a fight with this wave my whole career so it’s not necessarily the wave I want to end on. I have put in for a wild-card for Fiji so we will see how that goes but it is what it is and everything comes to an end.

Eleven-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater of the United States prior to surfing in Heat 3.
Eleven-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater of the United States prior to surfing in Heat 3. Credit: Beatriz Ryder/World Surf League

“If you don’t adapt, you don’t survive, and my motivation hasn’t quite been there to put in that 100 per cent that everyone is doing now.”

Along with seeking a wild-card for the Fiji Pro at Cloudbreak, Slater flagged still wanting to compete at other favourite breaks — Hawaii’s Pipeline and Tahiti’s Teahupo’o — in the future.

“We’ve got just under three months now for the baby comes so as far as planning it out and timing (to be dropping off tour) this work really good for us and for me,” he said.

“Now Kalani and I have some time to settle in these next few months and get ready for a different lifestyle.

“I couldn’t quite pull a miracle off this week but I’ve pulled a few off over the years.

“I still had that hope out there and I still was like one might pop up with a minute to go. But to lose to the No.1, Griff is the No.1 guy and Griff and I have been friends for a long time.

Kelly Slater prior to his heat.
Kelly Slater prior to his heat. Credit: Aaron Hughes/World Surf League

“I think I’ll have a little quiet time after I spend some time with the crowd and just absorb the whole thing but it’s been fun to be over 50 and still mixing it up with the guys and feeling like I’m there with them and getting to see this new crop of guys.”

Slater admitted battling through pain since his most recent hip surgery and confessed the realisation he could miss the cut again had hit him hard after a poor start to the year in Hawaii.

“At the house after Sunset I was talking to Kalani and I kind of broke down and was like ‘this feels like the end’,” he said. “But the start of something else and the rest of life.”

Slater had earlier staved off an early exit at Margaret River after grinding out an elimination heat against American rookie Cole Houshmand and Brazilian Yago Dora.

Men’s round of 32

HEAT 1: John John Florence (HAW) 17.13 (8.80, 8.33) def. Deivid Silva (BRA) 16.70 (8.53, 8.17)

HEAT 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.66 (8.73, 5.93) def. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 12.40 (7.67, 4.73)

HEAT 3: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 15.23 (8.17, 7.10) def. Kanoa Igarashi (JAP) 13.77 (7.10, 6.67)

HEAT 4: Samuel Pupo (BRA) 12.77 (6.60, 6.17) def. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 11.50 (7.00, 4.50)

HEAT 5: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 11.87 (6.17, 5.70) def. Kelly Slater (USA) 6.17 (3.67, 2.50)

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