Kelly Slater: he competed at the highest level from 1990 to 2024 | Photo: WSL

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

The 11-time world surfing champion survived the elimination round at Margaret River but lost his Round 32 against Griffin Colapinto.

Consequently, Slater, 52, does not make the mid-season cut nor qualified for the 2025 WSL CT  and is expected to hang his leash when it comes to professional surfing.

There was never a formal announcement, but it's clear from his emotional post-comp words that surfing's greatest of all time (GOAT) is moving on to a new stage of his life.

It's been 44 years lifting trophies with the jersey on since the Cocoa Beach-born started competing at eight.

The youngest (20) and the oldest (39) surfer to conquer a world surfing title won 56 Championship Tour (CT) events.

The first contest win arrived in 1992 at Rip Curl Pro Landes, and the last was the 2022 Billabong Pro Pipeline.

Kelly Slater won eight Pipe Masters, three Triple Crown of Surfing trophies, and one Eddie Invitational contest.

In the future, we may see the smooth Floridian taking on his favorite waves as a wildcard: Pipeline, Teahupoo, and Cloudbreak.

What has he missed? The Olympic Games.

Kelly Slater: the 11-time world champion surfed his last professional heat at the Margaret River Pro | Photo: WSL

In His Own Words

"A lot of emotions today. I look back at my friends who've retired and maybe they can relate to how I'm feeling now - just some relief, you know?"

"There's no sleepless nights with the pressure. 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 working discipline, the hours in the water, you got to surf with lots of people and really figure out your boards in the wave and all that stuff and I just did it for so long it's nice to have that rear view at this point."

"I was trying to get myself into the Olympics, and since it doesn't look like at all happening in any reasonable sense, like about 10 people would have to get injured, if a couple of opportunities arise, I'll see how I'm feeling."

The Last Heats

"I was just trying to have fun and smile. Sometimes, you smile, and it just makes everything feel a lot better. I felt good. I actually felt I won the [elimination round] heat!"

"I fought for the position with Cole and Yago, and it paid off. I started out that heat out really strong, and then I actually wasted priority in a couple of waves that were low-scoring and didn't pan out to be good waves."

"Competitively, I was good in that heat. The heat with Griff, I just got kind of caught in a hole cuz the ocean did die, and the wind came up. I was imagining a seven or eight was going to come when the best wave was going to be that six the Griff got, and I let him have it."

"So, little mistakes there, but you can't predict what ocean's going to do. You go to be in that moment and have an idea of what's going to come."

"But I've been competing for 44 years. I started competing at eight years old in 1980, so I'm used to being in that environment."

"At the same time, I hold myself to a certain standard in my head, so when I'm not getting the results, and I'm not putting myself in competitive situations... you make your own luck."

"I've had a little bit of reluctance. I am surfing very injured still. I probably came back a little too quick after surgery, but you know I wasn't going to stick around till next year and say, 'Can I have one of those wildcards?, especially with João and a couple of guys hurt and they're at the beginning of their career. They have all the desire to be there, and the baby is coming; it's the right time."

"Surfing is number one to me still, and I want to surf my best every day. I still want to get my favorite board and surf my best wave of my life and you know that I don't think that ever goes away."

The Longevity

"It's a funny thing because when I got on Tour, I think Tom Carroll and those guys were about the oldest guys - 29, 30 - and that seemed to be what was going to be ancient surfing."

"So I had this idea that I was going to have a 10-year-long pro career once I got on tour."

"And then I got really burned out at 26 and retired and then three years off, came back, and to be honest, I wasn't really spoken about as being in that picture that first year back. It was Taj, Andy, Parko, Dingo, and that kind of little fire under me for sure."

"I was the underdog because Andy was just on fire those three years. I think he won the first year I was back in the tour - 2002 - and he kind of started his reign."

"And that got me fired up, and then losing so closely to him was really like a heartache for me. You might see it in 'Blue Horizon' - it was tough."

"And then next year, I didn't even try. My heart wasn't in it - I was like, 'That hurts too much to lose that close,' and then in the beginning of 2005, I said to Parko, 'Which one of us is going to take this thing? Come on, let's go!' And then Mick got in the mix. He won in 2007, and then we went back and forth."

"It definitely lit a flame under me, and I felt like that really gave me a lot of longevity because I knew I could dig it out of myself."

The Legacy

"I'm not sure. I don't know. I really went all the way in four fins, for instance, and no one was riding them. But I thank Simon Anderson for that."

"My first four fin was in like 1985 from Matt Keckley, but I didn't stick with him, and then Simon made me one in 2003, and I loved it."

"So that kind of got me like on that, but I was thinking about that earlier, and I think being rated number one in the world at 50 years old was probably the top thing for me."

"I've put my heart and soul into it, and you know, I appreciate that I'm part of that."

The Other GOATs

"I know a few of the greatest sportsmen, but I'm not really close with many of them. I know Lance Armstrong pretty well. I know Tiger a little bit. I met Kobee and Jordan."

"I know Michael Phelps pretty well. We've played some golf together, and we've chatted about little things. I like to pick his brain."

"If we're going to pick one guy who's just dominated beyond anyone else, it's Michael Phelps. In all sports. No one's ever going to even come close to matching that record."

"It's cool to meet people from other sports. Lance Armstrong, in his heyday, was a huge inspiration for me, coming back and winning a title again in 2005 and in those years. when I won in 2005 or 2006, he called me, and then I was sort of a fan."

"A friend of mine who was really into cycling was next to me when he called me, and I handed the phone to her, and she just cried. It was so cool - it was a really great memory."

Being the Benchmark

"There's a part of me that really hates the pressure, and then today, after it started to soak in, I got really emotional about that pressure is not going to be there in my life constantly."

"It's given me a lot of gifts, so it's a love-hate for me."

But I wanted to be that guy as a kid. I wanted to be the best I could possibly be, and I wanted to be the number one in the world. I was hoping I could beat the guys that I thought were the best guys."

The Favorite Trophies

"The Eddies are really the cherry on top. As far as Tour guys go, John won it, Bruce Irons won it as well."

"But I never really set my sights on the Triple Crown. A few years I did, and I had good fortune there, but I think the eight wins at Pipe is the standout for me, and I won a few at Teahupoo too, so both those mean a lot to me."

The Best Period on Tour

"It was the start, for sure. I was just so fiery-focused early on. The first thing that pops in my mind when I got on Tour was I traveled with the Aussies."

"Then, in the mid-1990s, all my boys were on tour from back in the States. I got on Tour a year before all the Americans did, and then I was traveling with all of them."

"Shane and I, Rob and I, we spent a lot of time together. But it was the mid-1990s, 1996, probably my best two years back-to-back competitively, and then 2008, a really super strong year for me. I won a lot of events that year."

"So, I had like a real resurgence there and then this last decade I won Teahupoo, Pipeline."

"When my nephew was born, I was trying to stay in Florida for the birth, and I missed the first round, and the day I won, I told my brother, 'I'm going to go get that trophy for your kid,' and I beat Mick in that final and I just had absolutely zero fear. I had zero doubt I was going to win. I just had this like higher power."

Barracuda, one of the elder leaders in the village, passed away within a few hours of my brother's son being born, and I won the contest in this one daytime. And then I got chaired up on the island by all the Fijians - that was that's one of my favorite memories."

This article is being updated.

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