When Kelly Slater decides to hang up his wetsuit, he will go down as the greatest competitive surfer to ever step foot in the ocean.

Heading into his 29th year as a professional, Slater has achieved every individual accolade the sport has to offer.

However, the 11-time world champion isn't committed to calling it quits just yet, with the chance of a new prize on the horizon.

"Olympic qualification is on my mind," Slater told the Herald on Sunday. "There is a chance I could retire at the end of this year, at least from full-time competition, but if it looks like, or if I feel like I'm going to make the Olympics, I'll probably end up trying to do that next year." Now 47, Florida-born Slater has remained coy on confirming any retirement plans in recent years. Although he's missing time due to injury, his performances have shown he's still more than up to competing with the younger athletes in the field.


However, regardless of how well he's performing, Slater knows there will come a day when his body tells him it's time to move on.

"[I'll make that decision] the day I do," Slater says, "So I'm not sure [when that will be]."
Slater is in New Zealand this weekend as a guest of American billionaire Ric Kayne and will be spending much of his time on the pristine greens and fairways of Kayne's Tara Iti golf course, north of Auckland.

It's Slater's first trip to New Zealand since 1993. While he's stopped over in Auckland for connecting flights, and even looked online at properties in the country with friends a few times, he welcomed the chance to visit again.

"I haven't been able to find the time to get back here but this is a great excuse," he says.

"I literally flew here without having spoken to Ric. I talked to him in October, and then I got an email from someone who works for him and told them when I was landing. I didn't know where I was staying or any of the details.

"I didn't even look the golf course up ahead of time to see what I was getting into. I just really wanted to get here and be surprised. It's been so nice ... it's so pretty here."

Slater's visit will be fleeting as he heads into another season on the Championship Tour.

The men's tour starts in early April on Australia's Gold Coast, where Slater will start as one of the competition's lowest-seeded surfers.


Missing the majority of the 2018 season, Slater joins the 2019 tour on an injury wildcard.

Over the course of the 11-stop tour, there's a chance Slater could find himself with some Kiwi competition, with Mahia's Ricardo Christie rejoining the tour this season.