Surfing great bows out

Kelly Slater competing at the Western Australia Margaret River Pro on Monday. Photo: Getty Images
Kelly Slater competing at the Western Australia Margaret River Pro on Monday. Photo: Getty Images
An emotional Kelly Slater has called time on his legendary surfing career, with current world No 1 Griffin Colapinto saying all surfers owe him for his contribution to the sport.

Slater lost to fellow American Colapinto in the round of 16 of the Margaret River Pro on Tuesday, meaning he missed the World Surf League's mid-season cut, falling off the Championship Tour.

The 11-time world champion was chaired from Main Break, with fans and fellow surfers acknowledging a career that will probably never be equalled, winning 56 titles with his first back in 1992.

"It's almost hitting me, it's right there, it's bubbling," Slater said of the realisation that his fulltime career was at a close.

"It is what it is, everything comes to an end and if you don't adapt you don't survive and my motivation hasn't quite been there to put in that 100 per cent that everyone's doing now.

"I couldn't quite pull a miracle off this week but I've pulled off a few over the years. I've been struggling since my surgery, fighting through the pain and hoping for adrenaline.

"It's been an incredible lifetime of memories. It's so much emotion for so long ...  it's not all roses but it's been the best times of my life.

"It feels like the end but it's the start of something else, the rest of my life."

The 52-year-old, who has battled a hip injury since 2022, said his tour elimination had a silver lining, giving him more time to prepare for the arrival of his baby with partner Kalani Miller, due in just under three months.

Slater has asked for a wildcard to compete in Fiji in August as a one-off, saying didn't want to bow out at Margaret River where he had never won.

"I've had a fight with this wave (at Margaret River) my whole career, so it's not necessarily the wave I want to end on. I have put in for a wildcard for Fiji and we'll see how that goes."

Colapinto, who was runner-up at Margaret River last year, said he didn't realise he had sent the GOAT into retirement until he saw him being chaired up the beach.

Slater had taken surfing into a new professional era, he said. 

"The fact that he was chaired up after a heat with me, I was pretty blown away and was just trying to take it all in," the Californian said.

"I gave him a high five as he was getting chaired up ... he's given me and everyone else on this tour so much, like we make a living because of him, he took the sport so far and it's pretty incredible."

In other early results in the men's competition on Tuesday, Sydney youngster George Pittar upset Cole Houshmand, who won the last tour event at Bells Beach. The 21-year-old outscored the American 13.26 to 12.87.

Other winners included Liam O'Brien, who took out a tight battle with local hope Jacob Willcox.

Current world No 2 Ethan Ewing also had an all-Australian showdown with Reef Heazelwood, winning 14.33 to 11.37.