“Big decisions in life don’t come easy and it’s taken a lot of quiet time and personal introspection to come to this conclusion…The #RipCurlPro was the first event I surfed on tour and it’s fitting that this will be my last @wsl. There are too many people to thank and memories to go over but here’s to hoping I can pull a rabbit out of the hat and win one last event this week. My board feels great (thank you @cisurfboards and @travlee) and I’m as psyched as ever to just surf and enjoy. Hope to see everyone down there at #BellsBeach this week. Not the best forecast but I’m channeling my #FloridaRoots! Photo: @dbahnphotos #HappyApril1stEveryoneBackHome #ThisIsSoConfusing #CantWaitToGolfAndChaseSwells
Earlier today, Kelly Slater dropped “news” of “retirement” via Instagram. There were two questions that immediately popped into every person's mind.
Is he serious?
Is this an April Fools joke?
Although Kelly does fit the mold of an April Fools abuser (someone who is not overly funny, but still attempts humor regularly), one year ago today he split with Quiksilver and that was not a joke. Plus, it's April 2nd in Australia already and seriously, kids stop laughing at April Fools jokes in elementary school.
My thoughts run a little deeper on the matter, because I know for a fact that Kelly's thoughts run deeper than most of ours combined.
Kelly is 43 years old and you're living in denial if you don't think his performance surfing hasn’t lost a step. He (technically) challenged for the World Title last year, but even Kelly would admit that it was out of reach for half the season. He finished 4th in the rankings and it was the first full year of Kelly's career where he did not win an event. And then he bombed out to Italo Ferreira at Snapper, a place he’s historically owned.
The best professional athletes in the world frequently hang on the retirement fence for a while before taking that leap, but Kelly hangs on Brett Favre’s. Endlessly flip-flopping and incredibly conscious of what the world thinks of him. There have been a few years of quietness on this front, but hardcore surf fans remember how often Slater flirted with the idea in the past. Especially if the Gold Coast didn't go according to plan.
Right now, for the second straight event, a heinous forecast looms. Following Bells is a lowly Margaret River, then onto the dismal beach breaks of Rio. Do you really think Kelly wants a part of that if he's out of the World Title hunt?
After a dominating heat win in shit surf at Rincon, this is a perfect time to drop the retirement bomb — even if he’s halfway kidding. Kelly’s options are now wide open. He can "ring the bell” and continue chasing number 12. Or he can lose next round and walk out of the door peacefully.
Maybe this is an April Fools joke and I'm completely overanalyzing it? Maybe I'm not? Either way, when the most polarizing figure this sport has ever known (not to mention the most secretive) posts something like this, it's going to cause a stir. —Jimmicane