Goat Amongst Sheep: Kelly Slater Commits To QS Event In New Zealand
And, presumably, the entire 2020 Championship Tour.
In 2019, 47-year-old Kelly Slater finished ranked 8th in the world. Before the season started, there was copious speculation that it would be his swan song—the GOAT’s farewell world tour.
To start the year, he bowed out of the Quik Pro in the second round. Nothing about the performance instilled confidence in Slater or his legion of fans.
Then he clawed himself to the quarters in big Bells. Then he went one better, making the semis in Bali.
Slater finished the year with a seminal loss at the Pipe Masters to eventual world champ Italo Ferreira. Struggling with nagging foot and back issues the years prior, by season’s end, Kelly was clearly back in form.
In a post heat interview at Pipe, Slater alluded to returning to the tour again in 2020. He now he appears to have confirmed his intentions, announcing that he will be competing at the Corona Piha Pro in New Zealand next month—a newly added event to the WSL Challenger Series (more on that momentarily)—which he will use as a warm-up for the Aussie leg of the tour.
“I’m excited to be surfing again in an event in New Zealand and seeing all my fans there,” said Slater in a press statement.
He added, “I’m also looking forward to starting my 2020 WSL season by competing at a Challenger Series event.”
The Challenger Series is more or less just a way of grouping all the QS 10,000s this year and elevating them above the rest of the busy QS schedule. There are currently eight Challenger Series events on the men’s schedule, and they hold twice the numerical value as the next highest-rated QS events (5,000). Conceivably, one could compete exclusively in Challenger Series events and graduate to the 2021 CT.
Slater doesn’t spend a lot of time dabbling on the QS, but this is hardly the first time he’s started his yearly journey in the minor leagues. Kelly has a track record of using an early-season appearance in a QS to get the competitive juices flowing. Last year, he entered the Vissla Sydney Surf Pro, where he suffered an early-round lost to Jesse Mendes in surf of no consequence. From 2014-17 he leaned on the Volcom Pipe Pro to get back into the swing of things.
But there could be more attracting Slater to New Zealand than the opportunity to sling on a jersey once again and go at it with 100 frothed out grinders. He noted the Land of the Long White Cloud also has some “amazing golf courses.”
However the champ fairs at Piha, he appears to be set for another season on tour, which means we all get to enjoy the legend of Kelly Slater for at least on more year. It’s a wonderful thing.