After decades of making history, legendary surfer Kelly Slater announced over the weekend that he plans to retire from competing professionally after 2017.
But before the 11-time world champion hangs up his rash guard jersey for good, he’s going to take one more shot at winning the World Surf League world title during next year’s championship tour.
“Hugely inspired by the young guys on tour these past few months and what [John John Florence] has accomplished this year,” Slater, 44, wrote on Instagram last week, referencing 24-year-old Florence’s recent 2016 world title win.
“Next year, I’m going to get my shit (and my body) together for real and see if I can make a last run at a title.”
Slater first showed up on the professional surfing circuit in 1990 at 18 years old when he won a $100,000 surf contest along with a contract with then-industry giant Quiksilver. At 20, he became the youngest surfer ever to win a world champion title.
And that was only the beginning.
Throughout his professional career, Slater’s precise and powerful wave-riding has elevated the entire sport of surfing. He’s broken numerous records (including pro surfer with the most wins and highest paid pro surfer), created never-before-seen tricks and even developed groundbreaking technology for artificial wave-riding guaranteed to change the industry altogether.
Although Slater is the only surfer ever to win the world title 11 times, the last time he was crowned the world champion was in 2011. Winning a 12th title would not only be a perfect swan song, it would also cement Slater’s status as one of the greatest athletes of our time.
Train hard for the 2017 season, Kelly Slater. We’re all rooting for you.