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Kelly Slater Ditches Championship Tour, Chases Surf To Australia's Gold Coast

A true surfer at heart, the 11-time world champ passed up work commitments to go score some seriously epic surf at Kirra.
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When it comes to perfect surf, Kelly Slater just can't help himself. After spending the first two events of the 2024 WSL Championship Tour nursing a surgically repaired hip, there was a big question mark around his appearance at the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal. And when he withdrew from the event it didn't come as a huge shock to anyone.

What did come as a shock was the 11-time world champ showing up on the Gold Coast in Australia for a brilliant run of swell at Kirra. With the surf going absolutely bonkers the last few days and an all-star cast on it, including world champs Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning, Slater couldn't resist the temptation. To be fair, if one has the means, warm water and big blue barrels is a hard thing to pass up.

Slater, who turned 52 years old last month, has been competing on the Championship Tour this year via a wildcard from the WSL. The event in Portugal should wrap up any day now as soon as the conditions come together. After that, the tour heads Down Under to Bells Beach and Margaret River. Slater's been winning at Bells for 30 years now, and since he's already in Australia, the smart money is on him showing up in Torquey next month...unless Kirra keeps pumping, obviously. 

It's also worth nothing that when Slater and his team of engineers and designers were developing the wave at the Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California, it was largely inspired by the waves at Kirra and Snapper Rocks. A fast, running, right-hand barrel with a few open sections to belt a turn or two, peep this week's footage from Kirra and you'll see exactly what I mean.