Kelly Slater: the winner of the 1995 Chiemsee Pipe Masters | Photo: Quiksilver

Kelly Slater is the most successful pro surfer of all time. With 11 world surfing titles under his belt, the Floridian is also one of the most popular athletes on the planet.

Today, Slater is more than just a surfer. He is surfing's greatest athlete of all time (GOAT), but also an activist for environmental causes, a philanthropist, and a successful entrepreneur. 

Kelly Slater's artificial wave pool system helped change the future of the sport, but when it comes to competing and winning titles, he's not done yet.

The Floridian says he will surf Pipeline until he's 90; he inherited this competitiveness from his mother.

The Kelly Slater world is rich, deep, vibrant, and colorful. As an athlete, he's the past, present, and future of surfing.

As a man, he is a savvy gentleman with a wide variety of tastes and preferences. Sometimes, he even gets political and controversial.

Kelly Slater has improved surfing and continues to help refine surfers' reputations. His contributions boosted the sport's popularity and increased its influence in mainstream media.

So, without further ado, let's take a look at a few facts you likely didn't know about the greatest surfer of all time:

Kelly Slater: the greatest pro surfer of all time | Photo: Quiksilver

1. Kelly Slater was born in Cocoa Beach, Florida, on February 11, 1972;

2. The pro surfer starred in 27 "Baywatch" episodes between 1992 and 1996. He played the role of Jimmy Slade;

3. Kelly Slater is the son of Stephen Slater and Judy Moriarity. His father was a bait-and-tackle shop owner, and his mother was an emergency medical technician (EMT) and firefighter. Judy moved from Maryland to Florida at age 19 to work at NASA;

4. The Floridian surfer has a younger brother, Stephen, and an older brother, Sean;

5. Slater started surfing at the age of five with a bodyboard with fins. He stood up and surfed on that board for years before getting his first surfboard in 1980, shaped by Richard Salick;

6. Kelly Slater's favorite boogie boarders are Mike Stewart and Damien Martin;

7. Did he ever win the United States Surfing Championships? Yes. He won two Menehune titles and two Boys titles;

8. Kelly turned pro at 18 and immediately won the 1990 Body Glove Surfbout in Trestles, California. However, he finished his rookie world tour year ranked 43rd;

9. Slater's first sponsor-funded film was "Kelly Slater in Black and White";

Kelly Slater: riding the barrel at the 2001 Pipeline Masters | Photo: Quiksilver

10. Kelly Slater is a natural footer, but he can easily switch stance while riding a wave;

11. What are surfing's GOAT nicknames? The King, Slates, Kells, King Kelly;

12. Kelly Slater is 5'9'' (1.75 meters) and weighs approximately 160 pounds (72.5 kilograms);

13. Kelly Slater has a daughter named Taylor from his relationship with Tamara Michelle. She was born in 1996;

14. Kelly bought his first flat in Australia when he was 20;

15. Was he ever in a band? Yes. Kelly Slater joined Rob Machado and Peter King in a band called The Surfers;

16. What do Kelly Slater and Andy Warhol have in common? The surfer made the cover of Warhol's magazine in 1996. The headline said: "Half Fish Total Dish: This Guy Could Save Our Water";

17. The regular footer won his first ASP World Tour title in 1992 when he was 20 years old;

18. For how long did he ride for Quiksilver? Kelly Slater signed a six-figure contract with the brand in 1990 and only split with Quiksilver in 2014;

Kelly Slater: a master in the barrel | Photo: Rabejac/Quiksilver

19. Slater's favorite surf break is Cloudbreak in Fiji;

20. Kelly Slater's biggest rival was Andy Irons, but Tom Curren and Mark Occhilupo were also fierce opponents;

21. Kelly Slater won 56 CT events. The first was the Rip Curl Pro Landes in 1992, and the last one was the Billabong Pro Pipeline in 2022;

22. He won the Billabong Pipe Masters eight times (1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2008, and 2013);

23. The Floridian conquered the prestigious Triple Crown of Surfing in 1995, 1998, and 2019;

24. In the past, Kelly Slater dated Pamela Anderson, Gisele Bündchen, Cameron Diaz, and Bar Refaeli;

25. The pro surfer is dating Kalani Miller, the founder of the fashion label Mikoh;

26. What was one of the most dangerous wipeouts he ever suffered? Kelly Slater almost drowned in Capbreton in France during the 2015 Quiksilver Pro France;

27. Kelly Slater loves Indonesian flavors and adores smoothies and red wine. He is an avid organic food supporter, and he rarely drinks alcohol. "I'm a two-beer guy. All the fun happens in the first two";

Kelly Slater: always focused, always carving | Photo: Quiksilver

28. The Floridian pro surfer's favorite movie is "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory";

29. Has he ever posed nude? Yes. Kelly Slater posed naked for ESPN's 2010 Body Issue;

30. The world champion surfer created his own clothing brand. The sustainable, eco-friendly fashion label is named Outerknown and opened in 2014;

31. How wealthy is the greatest pro surfer of all time? Kelly Slater has an estimated fortune of over $20 million;

32. When he was growing up, Kelly Slater wanted to be a professional ventriloquist. After that, he wanted to be an actor or a comedian because he thought Steve Martin was funny;

33. The Floridian has several famous friends. He is often seen playing guitar with Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam, and he is a close friend of Jack Johnson;

34. Kelly Slater has several parallel hobbies. The Cocoa Beach local enjoys golfing (his handicap is +2), playing guitar with friends, composing music, and martial arts;

35. Has Kelly Slater ever been featured in a video game? Yes. Actually, he named a console video game for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. It was called "Kelly Slater's Pro Surfer," and it is considered one of the best surfing games of all time;

36. The biography of Kelly Slater has been revealed in "Pipe Dreams: A Surfer's Journey" and "Kelly Slater: For the Love";

37. How many Perfect 20 heats has he scored? The 11-time world surfing champion has had three Perfect 20 heats in his career. Two of them were scoredt at Teahupoo and one at Cloudbreak;

38. Slater broke his feet four times during his career;

39. Kelly's favorite band is Little Dragon;

40. The pro surfer is an active Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) enthusiast. He holds a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and is friends with Vitor Belfort;

41. One of Kelly Slater's best aerial maneuvers was an unforgettable 540 in Peniche, Portugal, in 2014;

42. Kelly announced he would retire from pro surfing in 2020, three decades after his rookie year, but he kept competing through 2022;

43. The entrepreneur dedicated more than one decade to developing one of the world's first modern wave pool concepts. On December 5, 2015, the footage shot at Lemoore, California, unveiled the Surf Ranch, the ultimate man-made surf lagoon by Kelly Slater Wave Co.;

44. The multiple-time world surfing champion refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine in 2020 and 2021 and was never clear on whether he got the shot in 2022;

45. In 2023, the Floridian launched Klly, a surf sandal company inspired by turtles and the moon. The flip-flops are made from rPET and Bloom foam;

46. Slater was one of the few celebrities willing to voice his support for the narration of "The Trust Fall: Julian Assange" documentary";

47. The Floridian won the first-ever 1986 Excalibur Cup at Sebastian Inlet. The pro-am event was organized by British surfer Ted Deerhurst;

48. In 2023, the world champion surfer launched the "Great White Twin," a high-performance surfboard inspired by the outline of the great white shark. Slater developed the board in collaboration with Bali-based shaper Mike Woo.

49. On March 19, 2024, Slater and longtime girlfriend Kalani Miller announced they are expecting their first child together. It's a boy;

50. On April 16, 2024, surfing's GOAT rode the last heat of his professional competitive career on Tour at the Margaret River Pro in Western Australia. It was Round of 32 against Griffin Colapinto;

51. In a chat with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the Cocoa Beach surfer revealed that he has never voted because "there's never been a person who has a chance that I felt like I would vote for."

52. Kelly Slater is on Facebook (@KellySlater), Twitter (@kellyslater), and Instagram (@kellyslater);


Discover the most famous quotes by Kelly Slater.


Words by Luís MP | Founder of SurferToday.com

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