This weekend’s Billabong Pro Pipeline on Oahu’s legendary North Shore was a big one for the GOAT. Slater topped the Pipeline podium for the eighth time in his career just over a week shy of his 50th birthday.
On finals day at the first event on the 2022 World Surf League Championship Tour schedule, Kelly Slater knocked off Hawaiian phenom Seth Moniz, further solidifying his status in Pipeline surf history.
The win was Slater’s first at the Pipeline since 2013 and came nearly a full 30 years after his first Tour win there in 1992. Slater quaked with emotion in an interview back on the beach.
“I was out there just telling myself, ‘Be in the moment no matter how much tension there is, just breathe,'” he said after the final. “I said, ‘Just stay in the moment, just soak it up, even if he beats you, just love it all.’”
Slater and Moniz traded competitive rides for the duration of the 20-minute heat. In defeat, Moniz showed deference to the legend.
“It was really special just sharing a final out there with him,” he said on the winner’s stage. “It was an honor to surf against him and a big privilege for me to be out there with him.”
Kelly Slater: Retirement vs. World Record
While rumors about Slater’s retirement have swirled as he’s aged, the season-opening win seems to open the door for the GOAT to keep paddling out. He’s an 11-time World Champion, and a 12th title would put him alone at the top of the list.
Slater did address the topic after the Pipeline but steered clear of committing either way. The Championship Tour‘s next stop starts this Friday at Sunset Beach, Hawaii.
“I committed my life to this. To all of this,” Slater said. “To all of the heartbreak and winning and all this crap, you know, I’ve hated lots of it, but I savor this and this is the best win of my life. This may be it for me; I’m going to have to have a talk with myself before Sunset.”