Stab Magazine | The Kelly Slater World Title Scenario

The Kelly Slater World Title Scenario

What will it take for Kelly to win the world title? Here’s what we’ve figured out.

news // Sep 22, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Kelly Slater needs only 15,000 ratings points from the final three events to win a record 12th world title. That’s the rough mathematical equation we’ve come up with, though countless variables remain in the form of results from other title contenders.

With 5,200 points awarded for a 5th place finish (quarterfinals) and 10,000 for a win, Kelly needs only to keep pace with the rest of the top five heading into the season ending Pipe Masters in December. “If Kelly has a mathematical chance of the title going into Pipe, even if it’s a small chance, it automatically gets doubled because he is arguably the greatest ever surfer out there,” says former world tour surfer, 1998 Pipe Master and leading pundit, Jake ‘The Snake’ Paterson. 

Kelly has already won an event there in form of the ultra-challenging Volcom Pipe Pro WQS event, which was held in some of the best Pipeline conditions in years and featured a field of Pipeline specialists. 

The biggest hurdle in Slater’s world title tilt will come first as his vintage skill set is pitted against the new-school theatrics of key contenders, world number one John John Florence and 2014 Brazilian World Champ Gabriel Medina in the fickle beach breaks of France and Portugal. 

“Adapting at the drop of a hat is the key to doing well in France,” explains Snake. “French beach breaks change from heat to heat because of the huge tides they get there so you need to be on your game and ready to shift up or down gears whatever the situation is calling for.

Kelly’s experience and ability to read the ocean will prove invaluable if the conditions turn on. 

“Kelly will be hoping for six to eight foot shifting, barrelling peaks. He is an amazing barrel rider on his forehand and backhand and if it’s shifty peaks he will use his ocean knowledge to destroy people,” he says, also pointing out he’s no slouch in the tricky, wobbly smaller stuff. “He adapts really well to all conditions,” says Snake.

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Could number 12 be just around the corner? France will tell. (Image: Life Without Andy)

Of all the challenges posed by France, one of the biggest might be the old friends, late nights and early starts, says Snake. 

“It’s hard to get up early in France and Kelly runs late at the best of times! (He’s) not as prepared as most in France,” he laughs. 

But it is the next event on the schedule, Portugal, that is shaping up as the acid test for this year’s contenders. Less than ideal conditions and numerous lay days are almost guaranteed in what has traditionally been a stumbling block for world title and requalification campaigns. 

“Some touring surfers start to get a little edgy towards the end of this event after being on the road for a few weeks, so the key to the Portugal event is just to know you’re there ‘till the end and enjoy every lay day,” says Snake. 

While Slater is very much in the hunt for a world title, there is the outside chance that a poor result in France could see him skip Portugal altogether. 

“We gotta hope Kelly does well in France to keep his title chances alive otherwise we will be lucky to even see him at that event. Early heats in shitty waves – that goes back to motivation as well,” he says.


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