Kelly Slater Speaks On Love, Retirement, And The Distant Intimacy Of Social Media - Stab Mag
Photo by Cal Ramsey @callawayramsey

Kelly Slater Speaks On Love, Retirement, And The Distant Intimacy Of Social Media

“I don’t love competing the way I once did.”

elsewhere // Mar 21, 2023
Words by Holden Trnka
Reading Time: 2 minutes

With mysterious words, spoken in the direct aftermath of an early Portuguese exit, 11x World Champ Kelly Slater left us wondering if this might really, truly be his final year competing on the CT.

Now, in familiar fashion, the potential Mid-Year Cut victim has put thumbs to screen and given insight into his thoughts on competition, retirement, and the stranglehold of social media upon our collective consciousness.

Portugal, done and dusted. We judge our success by results in this tour but when I look through the photos and think of the memories, the wins are judged over a lifetime. The emotions we harbor, both good and bad, about our present time run a good spectrum over the course of minutes, days, weeks, years, decades.

I don’t know when these times of competition will end but I am sure that many details I miss in the present moments will reveal a much broader appreciation with time and separation. I don’t love competing the way I once did. But I do hold the presence of mind and intensity of the moment as the highest of highs in my lifetime. And I miss them when I let myself down in the competitive sense.

I don’t post much here anymore. I spend a lot of time on social media, reading, watching, interacting. It’s an odd addiction. The all encompassing ability to enter other people’s worlds for a moment is strange and fun and terrifying. And sad. I wish for a better world but I know the good is there always. Just like in the tenth frame of this post. Thank you to the Portuguese people and crowds for making me feel at home anytime I’m with you here. It was an emotional day after losing but feeling the love from you all makes hard moments worth all the years of energy and output.

Though his digital transmission does little in the way of clarifying his potential retirement plans, it allows us a rare look into the vulnerability (and massage gun routine?) of our humble pastime’s greatest competitor.

I’m not crying, you’re crying.


Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

Snake’s Measured Hot Take On The Surf Ranch Imbroglio

'Cop it on the chin and move on'.

Jun 4, 2023

How John John Lost To A Surfer From Germany

The underdogs are barking: here's what's happened at the 2023 ISA World Games thus far.

Jun 3, 2023

SEOTY: This German-Born, Spanish-Speaking Ubermensch’s Clip Is For The Every-mensch

Watch Leon Glatzer make the ocean his Autobahn in "Águila".

Jun 3, 2023

Made Lana’s Special Relationship

Sunset at The Edge with Uluwatu's favourite son.

Jun 1, 2023


“We Woke Up And A Bear Had Chewed A Wetsuit To Bits”

Didn't know there were so many slabs in Canada, eh?

May 31, 2023

Britt Merrick Becomes Winningest SITD Shaper

Here's how he did it.

May 31, 2023

2023 ISA World Games Preview: Olympic Ballyhoo With 4 New Countries Competing

And why El Salvador’s President says that surfing is “one of the pillars” of the…

May 31, 2023

WSL CEO Erik Logan Responds To ‘Unfair Judging’ Claims In Open Letter

“It is a breach of league policy, for surfers to choose not to engage with…

May 30, 2023


‘Vertentes’ Is 16-Minutes Of Seamless Surfing And Self-Animated Artisanship

Time off tour has done nothing but good for Tomas Hermes.

May 30, 2023

The Man Who Tortures Surfboards For Science

Here's what Dr. Luca Oggiano and Donald Brink think surfboard manufacturers are getting wrong.

May 30, 2023

Gabriel Medina Gives Scathing Review Of WSL Judging After Controversial Surf Ranch Final

‘The surf community has been mesmerized by the poor clarity and consistency of judging for…

May 29, 2023

Griffin Colapinto And Carissa Moore Lift Lumber At Groundhog Day Rodeo

"There's so much in your control that you almost overthink things."

May 29, 2023

Surfing’s Decadent And Depraved Kentucky Derby: Day One

'It's still a wavepool comp'

May 28, 2023

Stab In The Dark With Italo Ferreira, Episode 4

And the shaper behind 2023’s best high-performance shortboard is…

May 28, 2023

Your Loss, Tahiti’s Win

Betonline.AG are donating 100% of their earnings (your losses) from Lemoore towards Tahitian flood victims.

May 26, 2023

The Surf Ranch Pro Preview: 2% Wildcards, Sudden-Death Duels, And Game Theory

Same swamp, (slightly) different rodeo.

May 26, 2023

Exclusive: Stab Speaks With El Niño 

"I’m just focusing on staying potent, moist and warm. I’m not really thinking that far…

May 25, 2023


Watch: Gabriel Medina Ping Pongs Off Brazil’s Most Exclusive Pool Coping Before Lemoore

'The waves at Boa Vista Village are so extravagant, they come with their own personal…

May 24, 2023