Kelly Slater

Last updated
Kelly Slater
Kelly Slater 2017.jpg
Slater in 2017
Personal information
BornRobert Kelly Slater
Error: Invalid birth date for calculating age
Cocoa Beach, Florida, U.S.
Residence California, U.S.
Hawaii, U.S.
Cocoa Beach, Florida, U.S.
Height5 ft 8+12 in (174 cm)
Weight160 lb (73 kg)
Surfing career
Years active1989–present
Best yearRanked 1st on the World Surf League: 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011
Career earnings$4,071,360 (as of 4th January 2018) [1]
Surfing specifications
Favorite maneuversBarrels

Robert Kelly Slater (born February 11, 1972) is an American professional surfer, best known for his unprecedented 11 world surfing championship wins. [2] [3] He is widely regarded as the greatest professional surfer of all time. [4]


Early years and personal life

Slater grew up in Cocoa Beach, Florida, where he still lives. He is the son of Judy Moriarity and Stephen Slater. [5] He has two brothers, Sean and Stephen, and a daughter, Taylor, born in 1996. [6]

The son of a bait-store proprietor, Slater grew up near the water, and he began surfing at age five. By age 10 he was winning age-division events up and down the Atlantic coast, and in 1984 he won his first age-division United States championship title. Two years later he finished third in the junior division at the world amateur championships in England, and he won the Pacific Cup junior championship in Australia the following year. [2]

After turning professional in 1990, Slater struggled during his first two years on the professional tour, finishing 90th and 43rd in the world rankings those years. In 1992 he secured podium (top-three) finishes in three of his first five events before winning his first professional tour event, the Rip Curl Pro, in France. His win in that year's prestigious Pipeline Masters in Hawaii secured his first world title, and at age 20 he became the youngest surfing world champion ever. Slater finished sixth in the 1993 rankings but came back in 1994 to win the world tour during 1994–1998, during which time televised surfing events had become increasingly popular. He then took a break from competitive surfing at the end of 1998, before returning to the world pro tour in 2002. [2]



Slater, having grown up in Florida, was never truly comfortable in waves of consequence until a trip to Oahu in 1987. A giant northwest swell was pounding the coast, closing out breaks from Waimea to Sunset. He drove to Makaha, where he was greeted with 40' (Hawaiian scale) waves breaking across the bay. Slater parked and saw charger[ clarification needed ] Brandon "Big Wave" Davis waxing up his 11' board. Big Wave Davis simply gave Slater a wink and they paddled out, trading waves all afternoon. Slater credits Davis in his biography stating "Brandon's knowledge and poise in large surf had a huge impact on my career. Anytime I'm dropping in a big wave, I think back to that wink in the Makaha parking lot and I push myself over the ledge." [7] [8]

Slater at Trestles, San Clemente State Beach, California Kelly Slater.jpg
Slater at Trestles, San Clemente State Beach, California

Some of his favorite surf spots include Mondos in Ventura, California, Pipeline in Hawaii, Kirra in Australia, Jeffreys Bay in South Africa, Minis in Ireland, Taghazout in Morocco, Veiny's in New Zealand, Soup Bowls in Barbados, and Sebastian Inlet near his home in Florida. [9]

Musical appearances and collaborations

Slater plays guitar and ukulele, and has performed with Jack Johnson and Angus Stone. [10] [11] Kelly Slater joined Rob Machado and Peter King in a band called The Surfers. [6]

Slater performed a song with Ben Harper during Harper's concert in Santa Barbara on August 1, 2006. He also performed Rockin' in the Free World with grunge band Pearl Jam on July 7, 2006 in San Diego.

In 1999, he appeared alongside Garbage singer Shirley Manson in the promotional video for the band's single "You Look So Fine". He played a man washed up on a seashore, then rescued by Manson.

Mixed media

Slater played the recurring character Jimmy Slade on twenty-seven episodes of the popular TV show Baywatch in the early 1990s. [12] He appeared in an episode of the reality show The Girls Next Door , and has starred in many surf films during his career.

In the late 1990s Slater, with friends and fellow pro surfers Rob Machado and Peter King, formed a band called The Surfers. The trio released an album in 1998 titled Songs from the Pipe, a reference to the famous surf spot Pipeline on Oahu, Hawaii. Slater toured Australia with his band, performing in venues such as the Opera House and parliament house.

A video game named Kelly Slater's Pro Surfer by Treyarch and published by Activision was released in 2002. Slater also appeared as a playable character in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 prior to this, complete with a surfboard.

In addition to the ASP tour, Slater competed in the X-Games in 2003 and 2004.

Environmentalism and philanthropy

Slater is an advocate of a sustainable and clean living lifestyle. [13] Slater is also a fundraiser and spokesperson for suicide prevention awareness. He has surfed in celebrity events for Surfers Against Suicide, telling sports website 'Athletes Talk': "I've lost a couple of friends myself to suicide and it's just a horrible thing that can be prevented. People get in this dark place and they don't know what to do so it's always nice to see a non-profit that isn't turning into anything else other than just trying to help people." [14]

Slater is passionate about preserving oceans globally and protecting temperate reefs in California through his relationship with Reef Check.

In February 2017, Slater and fellow competitive surfer Jérémy Florès called for a daily cull of bull sharks by French authorities on Réunion following eight shark-related fatalities over the preceding six years. Environmentalists criticized the proposal, with Dr. Ken Collins of the University of Southampton describing it as “insane”. [15]

On May 8, 2010, the United States House of Representatives honored Slater in H. Res. 792 for his "outstanding and unprecedented achievements in the world of surfing and for being an ambassador of the sport and excellent role model." [16] This resolution, sponsored by Florida representative Bill Posey and sponsored by 10 representatives, passed without objection by a voice vote. [17]

Slater is on the Board of Advisors (the Ocean Advocacy Advisory Board) of ocean conservation organization Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. [18]

Professional development

Slater historically and exclusively rode Channel Islands Surfboards equipped with his own signature series of FCS fins. As the media hype grew around Slater's lack of board stickers in 2015, Slater had been seen riding unlabelled Firewire surfboards, acquiring the company in 2014. [19] In 2016 Slater released his own line of boards. As of August 2017 there are four Slater Designs models in the Firewire range: the Gamma, Cymatic, Omni and Sci-fi.

Since 1990 Slater had been sponsored primarily by surfwear industry giant Quiksilver until his departure on April 1, 2014 to collaborate with fashion brand conglomerate Kering. [20] In a statement released on his social media accounts, Slater states "For years I've dreamt of developing a brand that combines my love of clean living, responsibility and style. The inspiration for this brand comes from the people and cultures I encounter in my constant global travels and this is my opportunity to build something the way I have always wanted to." [21] After Leaving Quiksilver, Slater, in collaboration with Kering, established the eco-friendly and sustainable apparel company 'Outerknown'. [22]

Slater also established the beverage company Purps, and became a brand ambassador for The Chia Co.

Wave Pool

Wave Pool was a ten-year 'experiment' to create the perfect inland wave situated in inland California. Kelly modeled the wave after a combination of Lower Trestles, California, a tubing wave on Oahu, Hawaii, and a secret right in Micronesia in the Marshall Islands. [23] The project was a success and the surfing world was abuzz with the possibilities, mostly due to the wave's perfect shape and speed. In 2016 the World Surf League (WSL) acquired a majority stake in the Kelly Slater Wave Company (KSWC) for an undisclosed sum. The WSL held a test event for professional surfers, including Filipe Toledo, Mick Fanning, Kanoa Igarashi, Gabriel Medina and others, at the Kelly Slater Surf Ranch on Tuesday, September 19, 2017. The Surf Ranch also hosted the WSL Founders Cup on May 5–6, 2018. The contest featured five teams - US, Brazil, Australia, Europe and World - made up of men's and women's surfers from the WSL Championship Tour. The WSL Surf Ranch was constructed outside of Lemoore, California and has remained private and exclusive. [23]

There is speculation he is developing Surf Ranch Florida, a man-made surfing lake in Palm Beach County. County commissioners unanimously approved plans for the county to evaluate the proposed surf facility in 2017. Brian Waxman, project leader for Surf Ranch Florida, said the World Surf League is considering bringing the wave lake to the Sunshine State for its weather and heritage of world-class surfers. It would encompass an 80-acre industrial lot east of Jupiter Farms, near the Pine Glades natural area. [24]

Coral Mountain is a proposed $200-million complex on 400 acres (160 ha) in La Quinta, California that would include a hotel and housing built around a surfing basin created by Kelly Slater Wave Co. [25]

Competitive achievements

Slater with fellow pro surfers Rob Machado and Christiaan Bailey Kelly Slater with surfers and fans.jpg
Slater with fellow pro surfers Rob Machado and Christiaan Bailey

Slater has been crowned World Surf League Champion a record 11 times, including five consecutive titles in 1994–98. [26] He is the youngest (at age 20) and the oldest (at age 39) to win the WSL men's title. Upon winning his fifth world title in 1997, Slater passed Australian surfer Mark Richards to become the most successful male champion in the history of the sport. In 2007 he also became the all-time leader in career event wins by winning the Boost Mobile Pro event at Lower Trestles near San Clemente, California. The previous record was held by Slater's childhood hero, three-time world champion Tom Curren. [27] After earlier being awarded the title prematurely as a result of a miscalculation by the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), on November 6, 2011 Slater officially won his eleventh ASP world title at the Rip Curl Pro Search San Francisco, by winning his 4th round heat.

Slater competing at the US Open at Huntington Beach, 2011 Kelly Slater (6020584199).jpg
Slater competing at the US Open at Huntington Beach, 2011

In May 2005, in the final heat of the Billabong Tahiti Pro contest at Teahupo'o, Slater became the first surfer ever to be awarded two perfect scores for a total 20 out of 20 points under the ASP two-wave scoring system (fellow American Shane Beschen made the first perfect score under the previous three-wave system in 1996).

Slater did it again in June 2013 at the quarter finals at the Volcom Fiji Pro with two perfect ten waves, only the fourth person in history to do so. [28]

2013 stats and results

World ranking: 2nd
Points: 54,150

Event results in 2013 [29] Quiksilver Pro (Gold Coast, Australia): 1st
Rip Curl Pro (Bells Beach, Victoria, Australia): 13th
Volcom Fiji Pro (Tavarua/Namotu, Fiji): 1st
Oakley Pro Bali (Keramas, Bali, Indonesia): 9th
Billabong Pro Teahupoo (Teahupoo, Taiarapu, French Polynesia): 2nd

Billabong Pipeline Masters (Pipeline, Oahu, Hawaii): 1st

He also won many other surfing titles.

2012 stats and results

World ranking: 2nd
Points: 55,450

Event results in 2012 [30]
Quiksilver Pro presented by Land Rover (Gold Coast, Snapper Rocks, Australia): 5th
Rip Curl Pro presented by Ford Ranger (Bells Beach, Victoria, Australia): 2nd
Billabong Rio Pro (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil): INJ
Volcom Fiji Pro (Tavarua/Namotu, Fiji): 1st
Billabong Pro Tahiti (Teahupoo, Tahiti): 13th
Hurley Pro (Lower Trestles, San Clemente, California): 1st
Quiksilver Pro France (Hossegor-Landes, France): 1st
Rip Curl Pro (Peniche, Portugal): 13th
O'Neill Coldwater Classic Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, California): 9th
Billabong Pipeline Masters (Pipeline, Oahu, Hawaii): 3rd

2011 stats and results

World ranking: 2011 Champion
Points: 68,100

Event results in 2011 [31]
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast (Snapper Rocks, Australia): 1st
Rip Curl Pro, Bells Beach, (Victoria, Australia): 5th
Billabong Rio Pro (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil): 13th
Nike Pro US Open (Huntington Beach, California, US): 1st
Billabong Pro Teahupoo (Teahupoo, Tahiti): 1st
Quiksilver Pro New York (Long Beach, New York, US): 2nd
Hurley Pro (Lower Trestles, San Clemente, California, US): 1st
Quiksilver Pro France (Hossegor, France): 5th
Rip Curl Pro Portugal (Peniche, Portugal): 2nd
Rip Curl Search (Ocean Beach, San Francisco, US): 5th
Billabong Pipeline Masters (Pipeline, Oahu, Hawaii): 3rd

2010 stats and results

World ranking: 2010 Champion
Points: 69000

Event results in 2010 [32]
Quiksilver Pro, Gold Coast (Snapper Rocks, Australia): 9th
Rip Curl Pro, Bells Beach (Australia): 1st
Hang Loose Pro (Santa Catarina, Brasil): 2nd
Billabong Pro (Jeffreys Bay, South Africa): 17th
Billabong Pro Teahupoo (Teahupoo, Tahiti): 3rd
Hurley Pro (Lower Trestles, San Clemente, California): 1st
Quiksilver Pro France (Hossegor, France): 2nd
Rip Curl Pro Portugal (Peniche, Portugal): 1st
Rip Curl Pro Search 2010 (Middles Beach, Isabela, Puerto Rico): 1st
Billabong Pipeline Masters (Pipeline, Oahu, Hawaii): 3rd

2009 stats and results

World ranking: 6th.
Points: 6136

Event results in 2009 [33]
Quiksilver Pro, Gold Coast (Snapper Rocks, Australia): 17th
Rip Curl Pro, Bells Beach (Australia): 17th
Billabong Pro, Tahiti (Teahupoo, Tahiti): 17th
Hang Loose Pro (Santa Catarina, Brasil): 1st
Billabong Pro (Jeffreys Bay, South Africa): 9th
Hurley Pro (Lower Trestles, San Clemente, California): 3rd
Quiksilver Pro France (Hossegor, France): 5th
Billabong Pro, Mundaka (Mundaka, Spain): 3rd
Rip Curl Search (Peniche, Portugal): 17th
Billabong Pipeline Masters (Pipeline, Oahu, Hawaii): 2nd

2008 stats and results

World ranking: 2008 Champion
Points: 8832

Event results
Quiksilver Pro, Gold Coast (Snapper Rocks, Australia): 1st
Rip Curl Pro, Bells Beach (Australia): 1st
Billabong Pro, Tahiti (Teahupoo, Tahiti): 17th
Globe Pro, Fiji (Tavarua, Fiji): 1st
Billabong Pro, J-Bay (Jeffreys Bay, South Africa): 1st
Rip Curl Search (Bali, Indonesia): 17th
Boost Mobile Pro (Lower Trestles, San Clemente, California): 1st
Quiksilver Pro France (Hossegor, France): 2nd
Billabong Pro, Mundaka (Mundaka, Spain): 9th
Hang Loose Pro (Santa Catarina, Brasil): DNS
Billabong Pipeline Masters (Pipeline, Oahu, Hawaii): 1st

History of wins


























Personal life

Slater is an avid golfer and practices the sport of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. [34]

His surfing inspirations are said to be Andy Irons, Shane Dorian, Josh Kerr, and Dane Reynolds, Andrew Bloom, Drew Phelps, Ken Wells, and Hunter Collins. [35]



Cameo appearances



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Preceded by
Damien Hardman
Association of Surfing Professionals World Champion (men's)
Succeeded by
Derek Ho
Preceded by
Derek Ho
Association of Surfing Professionals World Champion (men's)
Succeeded by
Mark Occhilupo
Preceded by
Andy Irons
Association of Surfing Professionals World Champion (men's)
Succeeded by
Mick Fanning
Preceded by
Mick Fanning
Association of Surfing Professionals World Champion (men's)
Succeeded by
Mick Fanning
Preceded by
Mick Fanning
World Surf league (men's)
Succeeded by
Joel Parkinson