Is Kelly Slater Retiring After The Billabong Pipe Masters?

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With the Pipe Masters underway, many are asking if Kelly Slater will truly hang up his board and wetsuit, and retire from competing professionally once the 2017 Championship Tour is over. After all, he made this announcement pretty public when he posted on his Instagram that he’s going to see if he “can make a last run at a title” this year.

Obviously, Kelly didn’t foresee a foot injury in his future that completely took him out of the title run. But he did keep himself busy while nursing his injured foot – building his wave pool empire and hosting special WSL wave pool events, which made more people think that he’s really not coming back for 2018 and will just focus on his Surf Ranch.

Barrels from Kelly’s Wavepool | Photo Credit: Kelly Slater Wave Company

When asked about his plans for next year’s CT, Kelly played coy and didn’t give an answer. Maybe he wasn’t sure himself, or the 11-time World Champ wants to keep us guessing. And because no one could get a confirmation, Stab went ahead and asked some of Kelly’s peers on whether or not Pipe Masters will be the King’s last stand.

Bede Durbidge, Shane Beschen, Tiago Pires, Yadin Nichol, Aritz Aranburu, Reef McIntosh and Ian Crane unanimously answered that Pipe will not be the closing salvo to Kelly’s professional career.

“I don’t think it’ll be [the] last event he ever surfs. Maybe if he wins it he’ll go out on top, but even then, I’m sure he wants to compete at the Surf Ranch, maybe Keramas, J-Bay, and Pipe. I just can’t see him walking away from it all at Pipe after cutting it short this year with his foot injury,” Yadin explained.

Artiz believes that Kelly’s competitive nature will keep him surfing. “He is still really competitive. I don’t see Kelly sitting on the couch if next year’s Teahupoo, J-Bay or Pipe events are firing,” he said.

And since a WSL event is going to be held at his wave pool, Tiago thinks Kelly would want to compete saying, “Pretty sure he’ll want to have a go in 2018, especially because he’ll have a contest in his pool, where he’ll be able to practice more than everyone and even by himself!”

If he does compete in the 2018 Championship Tour, will the 40-year-old still deliver? For Shane Beschen, this was a no-brainer. “He can still definitely do well,” Shane said. “It’s just a matter of wave conditions and motivation. He is still by far one of the best tube riders in the world so he is a front-runner anywhere that has barrels.”

Ian Crane believes that Kelly will win an event if he returns. ” I don’t know what event, he will win one, it’s been too long,” said Ian.

As long as Kelly Slater keeps mum on his 2018 CT plans, everyone will keep speculating on what he’ll do. Judging by his recent Halloween trip to New Jersey and his Round 1 win in the Billabong Pipe Masters, the King is back in fighting form once again. And who knows, he might just take Pipe in the process because as Reef McIntosh accurately puts it, Kelly’s “a freak for his age.”

Whatever Kelly Slater decides on – whether he goes for another title run or retires in his wave pool, as long as he continues to do his thing on a surfboard, we’re pretty sure the entire surfing community will keep on watching.

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