A few days ago during a freesurf at Jeffreys Bay, Kelly Slater paddled into a beautiful wave, drew a graceful highline, and then pulled into a seemingly benign-looking barrel–at least in comparison to many pits he’s packed at places like Pipe or Teahupoo. But this time, the barrel clamped down on him and his board hit his foot, which snapped two of his metatarsal bones right in half. The 11x World Champ crawled on his hands and knees to the beach, and the look on his face revealed that he was in serious pain.
He was quickly taken to the local hospital to get an X-Ray to survey the damage. He posted the radiographed photo to Instagram shortly thereafter, announcing an estimated recovery time of about six weeks:
You ever folded your entire foot backwards? If you try it sometime, this is what it might look like. I pulled into a barrel this morning and the whitewash bounced the board back into my foot as I hit the closeout, taking all the pressure into the metatarsals. Kinda like smashing my foot with a big hammer as hard as I can. Sorta feels like I'm giving birth out of my foot right now! I'm guessing surgery and 6 week holiday is in order. Not looking forward to 30 hour flight home before surgery though. Ouch! It sucks but so many people deal with such horrible things around this world everyday that a broken foot is pretty minor in the scheme of things. Sometimes a bad thing is a good thing. I'll make the best of my time off. #ThatsGonnaLeaveAMark #INeedElephantTranquilizers
But after another evaluation from his doctor back home in the States, things are looking worse. Unfortunately for Slater, the original prognosis has now been extended, and he’s looking at 4 to 6 months out of the water.
Slater is currently ranked 20th on the Jeep Leaderboard, so his chances of securing a 12th world title in 2017 are next to zilch, and it does beg the question if he’ll decide to give it another go next year.
Despite the huge setback, Slater is, of course, taking this in stride and is publicly positive about the whole ordeal. “The challenge will be healing with awareness, patience and good health,” said Slater. “Hopefully ill [sic] have some tips to share from my process for any future mishaps you might have.”
Featured Image: Kelly Slater. Photo: van Gysen