Will The Pipe Masters Be Kelly Slater’s Last Stand?
2017 was supposed to be Kelly’s swan song, but tour vets are betting on him coming back, and contending for a title... next year.
Does anyone really know what Kelly Slater’s competitive plans are for the immediate future? Does he? We tried the ask the champ, but he played coy with a casual no reply, so we’re left to speculate with everyone else.
With much fanfare, before his 2017 campaign, Slater posted on Instagram that “next year I’m gonna get my shit (and my body) together for real and see if I can make a last run at a title.”
As tends to happen to men over 40, his body betrayed him. A broken foot at J-Bay ended any and all chances at a run this year. He’s spent the last several months nursing his wounds and periodically taking a dip in his fountain of youth in Lemoore.
Because Kelly’s notoriously tight lipped about his decisions, we thought we’d take a temperature reading from some of his peers. Stab reached out to a diverse cross section of surfers to see if they thought the 2017 Pipe Masters would be Kelly’s last stand or if he still had some fight left in him.
Will Pipeline be Kelly's last stand?
Bede Durbidge: I think Kelly will compete again next year. It was such a bummer about his injury.
Shane Beschen: No. This won’t be Kelly's last stand.
Tiago Pires: No.
Yadin Nichol: I don’t think it’ll be last event he ever surfs. Maybe if he wins it he’ll go out on top, but even then, I’m sure he wants to compete at the Surf Ranch, maybe Keramas, J-Bay and Pipe. I just can’t see him walking away from it all at Pipe after cutting it short this year with his foot injury.
Aritz Aranburu: I don’t think so. He is still really competitive. I don’t see Kelly sitting on the couch if next year’s Teahupoo, J-Bay or Pipe events are firing.
Reef McIntosh: Hell no!
Ian Crane: No, Pipeline will not be Kelly’s last stand.
Will he be back in 2018?
Durbidge: I think the fire is still burning inside for him.
Beschen: Yes, I believe he will do the tour in 2018 via injury wildcard.
Pires: Pretty sure he’ll want to have a go in 2018, especially because he’ll have a contest in his pool, where he’ll be able to practice more than everyone and even by himself!
Nicol: At some point, he’ll be back. Maybe he’ll cherry pick some events with good looking forecasts. I don’t know.
Aranburu: Yes. Maybe not a full year, but we will continue watching him in some events. But I have no idea, just gossiping...
McIntosh: He’s coming back in ’18, for sure.
Crane: Yes, Kelly will be back in 2018.
If he returns, how will he do?
Durbidge: He will do really well. He knows the wave pool better than anyone. He kills it at Chopes and Pipe. I just think he will be hungry and motivated to do well and that is what drives Kelly.
Beschen: He can still definitely do well it’s just a matter of wave conditions and motivation. He is still by far one of the best tube riders in the world so he is a front runner anywhere that has barrels.
Pires: I’m expecting Kelly to come back and introduce some new kind of air that he’s already testing on his pool. So be ready! He’s still one of the best tube riders, if not the best. In regards of doing turns, I think he still has the game but he’s been mentally distracted and not so focus as in the past. Pretty positive he’ll still crack the top 10 if he feels like doing it.
Nicol: I think he can still win a world title if there was a crazy year of waves. He can still win anywhere. Snapper, if it’s solid, Bells, Margs, Keramas, J-Bay, Chopes and Pipe. There’s seven events that he could easily win or place highly. It’s definitely harder than a few years ago but with more and more random guys doing well it takes points away from the title guys and opens it up a little more. Who knows?
Aranburu: Potentially. He is really capable of winning in most of the WT venues. It’s in his hands if he wants to focus himself on doing so. No matter what we will continue watching him doing his thing on a surfboard and that’s exciting enough.
McIntosh: Hard to say how he’ll do, but one thing’s for sure, he’s a freak for his age.
Crane: If he returns he will win an event. I don’t know what event, he will win one, it’s been too long.