11-time world champion and the single biggest name in surfing, Kelly Slater announced his retirement on Instagram. The post appeared on April 2 while he was at a Bells Beach event in Australia (or April 1 back in the U.S.).
The caption began, “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.” While that makes it seem like the 43-year-old surfer may finally be calling it quits, he ended the post with a few interesting hashtags: “#HappyApril1stEveryoneBackHome #ThisIsSoConfusing #CantWaitToGolfAndChaseSwells”
After the announcement, Slater’s post received more than 50,000 likes and several thousand comments from some of his 1 million followers. Many of them wondered if this could possibly be true.
Though the hashtags made it seem unlikely, Slater has become increasingly involved in out-of-water ventures in the fashion, film and furniture industries—and there’s also been word that he’s taking a leading role in a surf company in the coming months. Add that to the fact that he announced his split from long-time sponsor Quicksilver on April 1 of last year, which turned out to be a true split.
On the other hand, officials in the World Surf League (WSL) say they were not aware of Slater’s plans and it’s hard to believe he would go out on the event at Bells Beach when the waves didn’t show up. Top that off with an email exchange where Slater supposedly said he was not retiring and it seems he’s still in it, at least for a little while.
Either way, everyone seems to agree on just one thing—when Slater decides to actually retire, the surf world will change forever.