10 Memorable Moments from Kelly Slater’s Career (in Video)

A young Kelly Slater, age 19, with surfing's greatest career ahead of him.<p>Photo by Paul Jones/Fairfax Media via Getty Images</p>
A young Kelly Slater, age 19, with surfing's greatest career ahead of him.

Photo by Paul Jones/Fairfax Media via Getty Images

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Kelly Slater, surfing’s proverbial GOAT, has had a long, storied career – spanning decades, different eras of the sport, the good, the bad, and everything in between. After 30-something years, off and on, his time on the Championship Tour has been nothing short of historic.

But his career as a full-time professional surfer – which most likely came to a close just recently when he fell short of the World Surf League’s Mid-Season Cut at the Western Australia Margaret River Pro – has been full of many memorable moments away from competition, too.

Here’s a handful of ‘em, in the jersey and out.

Emotional (Possible) Final Win at Pipeline

In 2022, days before turning 50, Kelly won the Lexus Pipe Pro – his first CT win since the 2016 Billabong Pro Tahiti. And it was quite an emotional victory for the GOAT. Fighting back tears following the win, Slater said: “I don’t even know what to say. I’ve dedicated my life to this, to all of this. All the heartbreak, all the winning, and all this crap. I’ve hated lots of it. But I just savor [this]. And it’s the best one of my life."

Perfect Heat at Cloudbreak

Very few competitors have surfed perfect heats. But very few competitors are like Kelly Slater. During the 2013 Volcom Fiji Pro, Slater did the near-impossible, scoring two perfect 10s in his quarterfinal matchup against Sebastian Zietz. Historic.

Perfect Heat at Tahiti

If once wasn’t enough, he did it again at the 2016 Billabong Pro Tahiti.

10-Point Ride in New York

The 2011 Quiksilver Pro New York was a meteoric moment in surfing. That’s mainly because, thanks for some expert forecasting from the late Sean Collins, they absolutely scored. And the maneuver of the event went to Slater with a go-for-broke, mind-melting aerial. All these years later, and this one is still one to remember.

10-Point Ride at Bells Beach

If there’s one thing Kelly’s good at – scratch that; he’s good at most things – it’s last-minute, under-the-gun, hail mary heroics. Like the 2012 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. Kelly was up against the ropes facing Fanning in the final. He was combo’d, nearly KO’d. And Kelly did what Kelly does best – made something out of (pretty much) nothing.

Surf Ranch

Back in 2015, Slater, as they say, broke the internet. This was the day that, out of seemingly nowhere, the first video of Slater’s Surf Ranch dropped. This was the day the world got a glimpse at the future; a future filled with perfect, manmade waves on-demand. And now, nearly 10 years later, the global wave pool scene is booming.

Rodeo Flip at Pipeline

Kelly didn’t plan this. It was a spur of the moment thing. During the 1999 Pipe Masters, the GOAT launched off the lip backside, grabbed his rails, went upside-down, and rotated laterally. He didn’t pull the rodeo flip; but still, it was a revolutionary move, and it influenced aerial surfing for years to come. "I literally discovered a maneuver on that wave," Kelly later said. "I’d never done that rotation, and I remember just going, 'Ahhh, that’s how you do it.'”


Jimmy Slade. That’s the character (or cameo) Kelly played on the uber popular lifeguard drama, Baywatch. But it’s not a résumé headline he’s very proud of. Years later, he said: “I wanted to go surfing and win contests and be a professional surfer and that was it. I wasn’t trying to go be an actor.” Of course, he famously dated his costar, Pamela Anderson. And yeah, he went on to win surf contests, too…a lot of surf contests.

Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational Win

Small waves, big waves, manmade waves…doesn’t matter for Slater. Although big waves aren't his greatest strength, he’s no slouch in the heavy stuff either. Case in point: He won the most prestigious contest in the world, the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational, in 2002. Are there any pro contests he hasn’t won? Yes. But not many.

Rivalry with Andy Irons

When it comes to sports rivalries, Kelly versus Andy is up there as one of the fiercest. From that controversial buzzer beater in 2005 at J-Bay, to the 2003 final at the Pipe Masters – in which Slater, perhaps toying with Irons, said, “I love you, man,” before the heat – the two were at their peaks…and each other’s throats. Surfing’s never seen such a heated rivalry since.


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