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Kelly Slater loses again -- has nine-time world champ had enough?


What's Kelly Slater's next move?

The winner of nine world titles and undeniably the greatest competitive surfer of all time could not make it beyond the second round of an ASP World Tour contest for the third time in three competitions.

The latest person to send the legend packing, during the ongoing Billabong Pro Teahupoo in Tahiti, was Basque surfer Aritz Aranburu, who is ranked No. 39 in the world and had not even won a heat during the 2009 World Tour season.

Clearly, for Slater, the desire is gone. The flame has been extinguished. It's as if the 37-year-old from Cocoa Beach, Fla., who clinched the title last year with two contests remaining, already has retired.

He said after the loss Monday afternoon (Tuesday in Tahiti): "That may have just given me an excuse for a big, long vacation."

Mathematically, with seven contests remaining, Slater could contend for the title at season's end. But he knows his chances are slim and he's not in this for anything but title No. 10, a round number with which to cap a remarkable career and retire on a positive note.

Slater said he didn't want to just "fall off the map," but he has not committed to the next competition in Brazil. It's a tough read at this point, and Slater might not have kissed off the season just yet. But here's a likely scenario: Slater will earn title No. 10, but it will happen in 2010. This year, unlike last year, the title is up for grabs.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Kelly Slater gets vertical on a Teahupoo left-hander. Credit: Kirstin Scholtz / ASP / CI / Getty

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Comments (16)

there were xlnt waves @ Bells.

the experimental equipment he is surfing is made by his own hand.

he is getting older, age catches up to the best.

he's a bit of a wanker if he quits now, what would that say about him? that he's a quitter unless he's virtually guaranteed a top placing?

maybe that hot young girlfriend he bought the house in San Clemente to be near is taking the competitive fire right out of him?!?!

bottom line - the surf industry DESPERATELY needs Slater, without him who do they prop up as the face of surfing to the mainstream they sell all the clothing to?

Don't count him out he's not done yet. When the spirit"moves" him he will claim #10 either this year or in the near future.

John G is right on. Kellys loss at Chopes was a fluke. the surf just died on him. As for not going to Brazil? Only the brazzos like going there. Everybody else only goes if they are in title contention, in danger of not re-qualifying, or dont want to pay the fine for a no show and cant fake an injury. Kelly will skip it cuz none of the above apply and he will STILL have no problem requalifying for 2010

The conclusions regarding Kelly Slater's career path presented in this piece are weakly grounded at best. Despite his unprecedented three consecutive 17ths, Slater should not be counted out as a world title contender. Let us not forget that he is a surfer who has built his reputation on doing the un-doable, achieving seemingly miraculous wins countless times. Ask any WCT commentator - Kelly Slater feeds off high pressure situations. Moreover, this is not the first time Kelly Slater has not met the exceedingly high (almost god-like) expectations of the public. He is one of the most amazing athletes the world has ever seen; I think it unlikely that he be unable to cope with this minor setback after having been through so much already. I am not claiming that I know whats going through the man's mind; I haven't the slightest clue. But, I do know that the conclusions reached in this piece are grounded on some critical assumptions, and that these assumptions warrant a critical review.

I think Eric is right, K9 is and always will be a catalyst for the surf world not for what he will do with winning #10 but for what he has done in his long career! Most of the kids in the water these days were stilling have their noses wiped by their mommies while Kelly was out winning titles. Kelly deserves ultimate respect no matter what his future holds! 37 and still firing! We are all blessed to be around and surfing at a time such as this, may we all continue to embrace the art as we follow and progress with the sport we love! I love you all.. Keep surfing if you surf; stay out of the water "or the sharks might get you" if you don't! GOD BLESS

It seems last year took alot out of him & he seems tired still. He hasn't really found "pep in his step" until that final wave in his Teehupo heat. That combined with being the number #1 seed & having Top local wildcards in 1st heat draws isn't a winning formula.

The fact that Slater has been experimenting on boards (like the Deep Six at Pipe last year) means that he's still pushing himself and the sport. The rest of the Top 44 should be thankful he's giving them a shot to take him out. I hope he goes for 10.

Kelly's losses can simply be chalked up to having poor waves at the events so far this year. If the waves had been better you can bet your bottom dollar K9 would have at least one, probably more, event wins. The only reason he was on tour this year was to get number 10, I mean really what does this man have to prove to the surfing world? He has simply obliterated every competitive surfing record there is, and with his last 3 titles he has ensured that no one (read Andy Irons) will come close to toppling him from "The Best Ever" competive surfer. He is no dummy and realizes that it would be next to impossible for him to claim another title this year and so although we would all miss him, he like the rest of us, have a limited amount of time on this earth as we are all long time dead. Kelly should do what makes him the happiest, no more, no less. As a fellow surfer, who was lucky enough to be able to watch Kelly sufing here at home in Florida as he was growing up, I say stop your prognosticating on what he will do and just appreciate what he has already shared with us.

If you don't surf your self, your opinion means less than nothing

ur an idiot. kelly slater is one of the greatest surfers on the planet. wait for a comeback

I agree. Kelly has been experimenting on different equipment this year causing a change in the lines he takes on a wave. The end result being his scores taking a hit. He can make a come back this season if he wanted to, or just wait a year and blow em all away for one grand finale. It's his call.

To Mike who left the inane comment above. Who cares who is best? You obvs have never had to deal with a pecking order at any decent spot. Keep having "fun" not catching any waves kook.

Please all vista my brand new website it's got Comp's like Kelly goe's in for at www.robbyroyal.co.uk at myspace. This will help you not to give up amen...

Me and the surf gang Enjoy the Ride think you are well enough to surf to your in your 100's. Me and Laura,also think you should keep on going Kelly we would love to meet you we are getting married on a surf board in God we trust and you.

Uhh, this is surfing. It's supposed to be fun. Who cares who's the best?

Kelly has been playing around a bit with his equipment, but I think at Teahupoo it was just a bad break, one he could have lost even with the right board. I don't think he is ready to retire, he is a competitor and still has a lot of great surfing in him. It will be nice to see him stick around for the last 7 competitions because he is fun to watch on a wave. I really would like someone else to win this year though and it is shaping up to be a good year for someone new to win it.


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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.