As if Kelly Slater needed to accomplish anything more in his iconic career, the soon-to-be 50-year-old surfer went out and did something nobody could have expected — he won the Billabong Pro Pipeline.
One of the most recognized events in the sport, the Billabong Pro Pipeline saw Kelly Slater walk away victorious for a record 8th time, adding to his legacy in a way only the greatest of all-time could.
What makes the title more impressive is this: Slater is turning 50 years old on February 11, showing that he’s still got the chops, skills and competitiveness to go head-to-head with surfers more than half his age.
Despite nearing the half-century mark, Kelly Slater doesn’t view himself as ancient in the sport. In fact, after holding off 24-year-old Seth Moniz for the Billabong Pro Pipeline title, he sees his latest victory as a culmination of four decades worth of surfing.
Per ESPN: “I mean, I kind of think of it like a martial art. You don’t get worse as you get older, you get more experienced… “I’m turning 50, but I look at it more like I have almost 40 years of experience at this wave and I’m able to draw on moments I’ve had out here before and find confidence in that.”
Although Kelly Slater is considering retirement, despite the win at the Billabong Pro Pipeline, he says it’s more about saying goodbye to fans and event organizers more than anything else. Still, he has yet to make a decision on his future, and joked that, whenever he does retire, it just means more time to do what he loves: surf.
“We’ll see how that goes. I’m contemplating whether I stop now or really go full bore this whole year, which would be, in my eyes, really for the fans and saying goodbye to everybody after all the years of support they’ve given me.”
He added: “Everyone who retires from surfing just goes surfing more.”
Kelly Slater’s latest major victory only adds to his resume, with the Billabong Pro Pipeline win coming 30 years since his first at the event — when he became the youngest world champion. Slater later became the oldest champion when he won it at age 39, and has now done it just days shy of hitting 50 years old.
Despite Slater’s success and habit of winning — especially at big events like the Billabong Pro Pipeline, his latest victory was still surreal for him.
“Indescribable, indescribable,” he said. “A lifetime of dedication to one thing and it all comes together on a moment like that is, I don’t know how you compare it to anything else.”