Surfing legend Kelly Slater misses the WSL mid-season cut, seemingly ending his Championship Tour career

Kelly Slater is one of the greatest and most decorated surfers in the history of the sport but his competitive career may be coming to a close.
SHISEIDO Tahiti Pro / Ryan Pierse/GettyImages

It may be the end of an era in the world of surfing. Legend of the sport Kelly Slater may have just announced his retirement. Although surfing is unlike other sports out there in many ways, it appears that Slater will not be returning to the WSL tour next year, thus marking his retirement from competitive surfing.

At 52 years old Slater was still tearing it up with the best of the best in the water. Qualifying for the World Surf League tour for 2024, Slater was looking to prove that he still belongs among the 20-year-olds, and did exactly that. He was competitive all year, but unfortunately not enough to stave off the mid-season cut. In the WSL Championship Tour, the bottom half of the surfers on tour are cut from competition halfway through. That cut happened this week at the Western Australia Margaret River Pro event. Slater ended the end in 32nd place and has been cut.

“I look back at some of my friends who’ve retired,” he said following his elimination at the Margaret River event, “I think maybe they can relate to how I’m feeling now. Just some relief, you know? That moment of just like, ‘okay.’ There are no sleepless nights with the pressure and stuff. I think I put a lot of pressure on myself still to this day. For heats, I have a certain expectation for myself, and I haven’t been putting in the work and discipline. The hours in the water; you have to surf with lots of people and really figure out your boards and the wave and all that stuff, and I just did that for so long. It’s nice to have that slightly in the rearview at least at this point.”

In order for Slater to re-qualify for the tour next year he would have to go through the Qualifying Series. This would mean he would have to surf qualifying events to build up enough points to gain a spot on the Championship Tour next year. This does not seem like an option for Slater at this time. However, with him being the "GOAT" there are opportunities for Slater to remain on tour at least part-time. Following the last event in Australia, Slater stated that it might be his last event on tour, while simultaneously saying he has asked to be considered for a wildcard spot for the Fiji event happening later this year.

The opportunities for wildcard spots will most likely remain open to Slater for as long as he wants them. Perhaps next year he will be given a wildcard spot at the Pipeline event, one that he is known to excel at. He historically won the event two years ago at 50 years old. Slater will also be a part of other non-tour events, as he often is part of charity teams and other events on the North Shore. So while fans may miss seeing him in the water on the regular at WSL events, it surely is not the end for the now "retired" Kelly Slater in the surf world.