Kelly Slater: the hairy years | Photo: Body Glove

Can you imagine Kelly Slater surfing in 1986? Herbie Fletcher says it was "raw talent at a young age."

Kelly Slater is the most successful professional surfer in the history of the sport. He won his first ASP World Tour title in 1992 and his last in 2011.

The Floridian started pulling airs at a time when VHS tapes were a hit, and the expression "surfing the internet" made no sense at all.

There were no social networks - only television, newspapers, and magazines showcased the sport of wave riding.

Slater resists. In the past three decades, he has been on top of the game, and his competitive skills only grew with time - veni, vidi, vici.

He won the 1990 Body Glove Surf Bout like he won the 2016 Billabong Pro Tahiti.

Long careers are rare these days, especially in a highly competitive environment like surfing.

But, unlike many other superstars, Slater uses his brain for surfing more and his encephalon to surf better.

Kelly Slater: surfing for victory at the 1990 Body Glove Surf Bout | Photo: Balzer/Body Glove

No one expects him to win Championship Tour stages at 50 years of age.

We want to see how he evolves and develops his talent over time until he delivers his promise of hitting 90 and surfing Backdoor and Pipeline.

Kelly Slater is the youngest - at age 20 - and the oldest - at age 39 - to win a world surfing title.

Do you remember the first time? Those who weren't born in the 1990s might not recognize this hairy Slater. But he was special. And so he continues to be.

In "The Thrill is Back | Kelly Slater," surfer-artist-entrepreneur Herbie Fletcher compiles old footage from Kelly's floater days.

As you will witness, his rail-to-rail, top-to-bottom signature has never been out of fashion. On the contrary, it's timeless and iconic.

Top Stories

The most successful competitive surfer of all time, Kelly Slater, rode what may have been the last heat of his 24-year professional career.

We can't choose our height, and 80 percent of it is genetic. But if you're into surfing, taller and shorter surfers feel noticeable differences in getting acquainted with boards, paddling for, and riding a wave.

Ryan Crosby is the new chief executive officer (CEO) of the World Surf League (WSL).

Nothing fuels more controversy in and outside the water than awarding scores for waves ridden in competitive surfing.