Hope he's ready to wiggle. Photo: Getty Images
Kelly Slater To Begin His QS Re-Qualification Bid At The Vissla Manly Pro
Is 11x World Champ Kelly Slater terrified of being ousted from surfing's grandest stage and set to begin a 2019 QS crusade? Probs not! Jump in.
Kelly Slater said this will be his last year competing full-time on the CT, but can we believe him?
Think about it: Kelly said the same thing about 2017 and 2018, but a lingering foot injury superseded those claims.
Then at the J-Bay event in 2018 – Kelly's first event of last season – he announced that 2019 would officially be his last year on Tour, and that if he managed to qualify (the top two Americans in the 2019 CT top-10 will be eligible to surf in the Olympics), Kelly would surf in the 2020 Olympics, before, and we quote: "Finding the best waves on Earth 'til my last day before being freeze-dried and used as plant food to make a #Koa and #Monkeypod tree on my property or take the carbon from my ashes and make a diamond from it for my family. (Don’t forget to drop some of me in the tube also!).”
So really, it's anybody's guess whether the 47-year-old is speaking the Truth or the "Biblical Truth," which can be interpreted in any number of ways depending on the current circumstances.
However, a recent WSL press release has convinced us that Slater not only hopes to surf on the 2020 Championship Tour, but that he will be going the extra mile to ensure it.
Shall we read?
The 2019 Vissla Sydney Surf Pro World Surf League Qualifying Series 6000 event has been bolstered with 11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater (USA) confirming that he will return to Manly to compete this March.
Having competed at Manly Beach a number of times throughout his career, even winning the event in 1997, Slater has a strong affiliation with the Northern Beaches of Sydney.
“I’ve always loved the northern beaches and having lived part-time in Avalon for 15 years, I miss it and am looking forward to getting back to some old familiar territory. I’m also getting a nice warmup prior to jumping back on tour full-time after close to a year and a half hiatus from competition.” Said Slater.
The event is the second major Qualifying Series event of the WSL season and will play a pivotal role for competitors hoping to qualify for the elite Championship Tour that Slater has dominated for over two decades.
Can you even believe it? Slater is back on the Q!
Even after his premature retirement in the late-90s, Slater wasn't forced to slug it out on the lower tour to regain his spot on the CT. But now – coming off consecutive Injury Wildcards and the whole Caio Ibelli debacle – Slater accepts there will be no free ride onto the 2020 Tour.
Which is why he's backing himself up with a committed QS campaign, starting at the less than stellar (wave-wise) Vissla Sydney Surf Pro.
Now, if you'd allow the author to break character for a moment, I'd like to clarify that the above was written satirically, and that Kelly is likely just fulfilling some WSL and/or brand obligation to compete in Manly this March, or that he genuinely wants to get the lycra fitted before Snapper, rather than his inclusion in this event having to do with some larger QS re-qualification agenda.
I make this admission to ask our readers, sincerely, if they think Slater could requalify via the QS if he tried. And I mean actually tried. Like went-to-Huntington-a-month-in-advance-to-practice-for-the-US-Open tried.
Of course Slater will scrape his way into the CT's top-22, but I want to know if the greatest surfer of all time could beat enough small-wave Samuels and big-spray Barrons to achieve the QS top-10 by Sunset.
I'll leave that with you.