KELLY SLATER Un-Eliminated, Back on Tour

Kelly is Back on Tour

I wrote this no more than two days ago: 

“As you’ll recall, the great Kelly Slater was hacked from the field of competitors like a malignant tumor.  As is par for the course with these things, I have a feeling Kelly will be back.”

It was not a difficult premonition to conjure.  In fact, it was easy as pie.  

And that’s exactly what Erik Logan and the WSL have on their face after this latest fiasco.  

I felt that this would eventually come true, but I had no idea it would happen so swiftly and with such blatant disregard for the rest of the competitors who were also relegated to the Challenger Series no more than two days ago.  

“[The cut] can get f**ked!” – 30 secs in

“I don’t think anybody likes the cut but it’s the only game in town so you gotta play.”

– Kolohe Andino

I thought it would happen under the cloak of darkness, feigning respect for the league and its competitors.  

Alas, the midnight rule-scribblers are now walking amongst us in the light.  They no longer feel the need to hide – which means the end is near.  

photo: Dave Weldon

There’s no point in having a cut if it’s all hobgoblins and tooth fairies.  

Not real.

Here’s the sequence of the events: 

The WSL made the rule.  Kelly was in danger of being eliminated from the tour because of said rule.  The WSL amends the rule so that Kelly can’t be eliminated.  Kelly is eliminated. Kelly is un-eliminated.  

I’m entirely and utterly in favor of Kelly Slater continuing to surf on tour until the final Bailey Ladder drops, but at what cost to the “professional” league?  

This is insane.  

One day there’s a CUT, and the next wildcards are being handed out like skittles to the league’s favorite sons and daughters.

Wasn’t the point of the cut to whittle down the field?  To make it more competitive? To create stakes!?

Now it all just seems contrived and sadistic. I’ve officially soured on the CUT.

I’ll tell you who definitely doesn’t care what I or anyone else thinks about the cut or his immediate wildcard re-entry: Kelly Slater. He doesn’t give a rat’s banana what any of us think! That’s why I love him, but it’s no wonder he was so uncharacteristically calm at Margaret River after being axed. He knew he wasn’t.

He’s the most important surfer to ever live and, in my opinion, he’s still 100% must watch TV. Honestly, this is a necessary move by the WSL, but only because of their constant blunders and missteps leading to this point.

It’s also nefarious.

Kelly don’t give a HOOT.

“It is what it is. I didn’t feel stressed about the situation. I was enjoying the day. It’s a perfect day. Whatever, you know. We’re breathing.”

– Kelly after being “cut” at Margs

What are the criteria for the wildcards?  Why weren’t they clearly and plainly mentioned before? 

They might have been mentioned at one point, but no louder than a whisper and no more than once.  

I just don’t understand any of it, and I want to. I truly do, but they won’t allow us to and that’s what’s frustrating.

Time and time again, it simply feels like the WSL doesn’t care about us as fans or its surfers as professional competitors. Surf media, the fans, and, frankly, the numbers have been very vocal. LOUD and CLEAR.

Something ain’t right!

I’ve been texting every fan of the WSL I know, and none of them are sure what’s going on with the wildcards situation. 

Here are some of the better responses: 

“Send Slater to the Challenger Series Lol.” 

“It’s all smoke and mirrors, man.  I don’t even think they know [how the wildcards work].”

“One big suck fest.” 

There’s no consistency to anything Logan and Miley-Dyer do and that’s a huge problem.  It’s like runny cake batter.  It’s not going to bake well.  It’s going to come out all bubbly and disfigured.  

You can’t run a professional league if the rules are not clearly set, and then executed impartially across the whole field of competitors.

One of the most contemplative and well-read professional surfers, universally adored and respected Ace Buchan had some thoughts on the wildcards announcements.

Ace of Base!
Ace of Base!

There is no attack that can be levied against Slater that will hold any water. It’s not him who is at fault here.

It’s the WSL that is at fault, and it’s the competitors who suffer. The current framework of the tour is not working. It’s broken. It’s not a good product, nor an accurate measuring stick for the world champion.

It’s a giant cluster.

There needs to be a larger discussion and I believe it needs to be lead by old pros like Ace Buchan, Rob Machado, Tom Curren, Mark Occhilupo, Shane Dorian, Luke Egan, and even Kelly Slater.

These are the minds I want to hear from during this uncertain time. I know there is a solution out there if we at least try. This game of pretending that everything is alright has gone on long enough.

It’s like playing monopoly and you know the banker is sneaking 5’s to himself every chance he gets. You might let it go for a few rounds, but after he buys Park Place you’ve had enough and it’s time to flip the board and ruin the game.

It’s time to start over.

One Big Cluster, but Kelly is Back
It’s a giant cluster.

I’m not upset that we’re getting more Slater.  At all.  I assure you.  

I thought they were going to award him at least several wildcards, but I didn’t know they were just going to completely un-eliminate him and Johanne Defay the day after the chop.   

Here’s the presser:

Slater, as a former World Champion, and Defay, as a previous Final 5 competitor, will earn ranking points as the Season Wildcards and thus will be eligible for the WSL Final 5 rankings, where the Top 5 surfers on the men’s and women’s CT will compete in the Rip Curl WSL Finals to compete for the 2023 World Title. Slater’s ranking points will also give him the opportunity to compete for provisional qualification for the Olympic Games Paris 2024. Defay’s provisional qualification for the Olympics was confirmed last week at the Western Australia Margaret River Pro.

Aside from the ratings that Slater brings, we see what else this is about: the 2024 Olympics in France.

Defay is French and will compete in the Games and therefore the second half of the season. Bon, d’accord.

If you read any of my last articles about the mid-season culling, you know that only five U.S. males remain on tour:

  1. John John Florence
  2. Griffin Colapinto
  3. Seth Moniz
  4. Barron Mamiya
  5. Ian Gentil

And now a sixth, Kelly Slater.

Two surfers from each country qualify for the Olympics. Slater missed the Olympics in 2020. He wanted those 2020 Olympics. He wanted them bad.

The WSL needs Slater. They need him bad. And they especially need him when he finally stops competing once and for all. That time might not be now, but it’s coming soon.

Could the Olympics be the farewell that Slater is so desperately craving? Just a little taste of gold.

I’m very sure that it’s not NOT on his mind.

Kelly wants the Olympics bad

If I were any of the other competitors who were banned from the second half of the season, I would be up in arms passing out fliers for a spurned surfers-only meeting in the old furniture factory…TONIGHT.

It’d be a ripe time to start rallying the tasty morsels of discontent of my peers together into a nasty thorn of a union.


We’d send ELO and M-D our list of demands, but they’d ignore us.  

Then, we’d be forced to show up at the different events and start burning everything and everyone – no one would catch a wave without one of us dropping in on them – and we wouldn’t quit until changes were made.

First stop: Surf Ranch in Lemoore, CA.

We want changes.   

Here are 3 possible demands from a united group of angry surfing professionals: 

  1. FIX the schedule.  It doesn’t make sense to start in Hawaii and end at Trestles. Let the surfers competing vote on the schedule ! 
  2. DITCH the mid-season cut entirely. It ain’t right. Instead, implement some form the STRIKE FOUR addendum where top X surfers are invited to compete in four contests at undisclosed locations around the world. When the swell hits, the tour strikes. The prize money should be substantial, but after re-thinking the points for the fortieth time, I don’t think they can be applied to the title race. But this at least gets you your CUT fix.
  3. BEEF up the Challenger Series.  Bring back the Triple Crown and make the Challenger Series something to watch.  Right now it’s confusing, because it’s constantly changing (no surprise!) and doesn’t include a stop in Hawaii.


– angry unionized surfers

These are incredibly logical and level-headed requests coming from the piping hot tea kettle of a newly-formed union, United Surfing Professionals (USP). 

We want answers, and we want them now.  

I’m worrying that I’m going to have to go to Lemoore myself at the end of May to get them.

Let me know what your demands would be in the comments.
Father, surfer, poet.


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