Kelly Slater to call time on iconic pro surfing career after tough ending at Margaret River

The icon helped propel the sport of surfing into the mainstream.

Surfing icon Kelly Slater has all but confirmed the end to his trailblazing pro career after missing the mid-season cut in 2024. Tributes have poured in for icon Slater after the American admitted he was ready for the next part of his life after falling to current World No.1 Griffin Colapinto at the Margaret River Pro.

Unfortunately, losing to his countryman was a sad ending for Slater after it resulted in him missing the World Surf League's mid-season cut. While Slater would have liked to go out on his own terms, fans and fellow surfers carried Slater up Main Break with the 11-time world champion finishing his career with a record 52 titles in a feat that might never be repeated.

Surfing icon Kelly Slater during an interview and Slater chaired off the beach.
Surfing icon Kelly Slater (pictured) appeared to call the end to his pro surfing career after missing the mid-season cut. (Images: Channel 7/Getty Images)

Slater admitted he was still hoping to continue for a bit longer if he had made the cut, but was now looking forward to the next part of his life after professional surfing. "It's almost hitting me, it's right there, it's bubbling," Slater said after leaving the water.

"It is what it is, everything comes to an end and if you don't adapt you don't survive and my motivation hasn't quite been there to put in that 100 per cent that everyone's doing now. I couldn't quite pull a miracle off this week but I've pulled off a few over the years.

"I've been struggling since my surgery, fighting through the pain and hoping for adrenaline. It's been an incredible lifetime of memories. It's so much emotion for so long's not all roses but it's been the best times of my life. It feels like the end but it's the start of something else, the rest of my life."

Friend and fellow American Colapinto was full of praise for Slater and admitted the whole surfing community owes so much to Slater and how far he has taken the sport. "The fact that he was chaired up after a heat with me, I was pretty blown away and was just trying to take it all in," he said.

"I gave him a high five as he was getting chaired up ... he's given me and everyone else on this tour so much, like we make a living because of him, he took the sport so far and it's pretty incredible." Fans around the world were left saddened to see career that last lasted more than 30 years come to an end.

Kelly Slater looks for wildcard in one last surf

Slater has been battling a hip injury since 2022 and admitted his exit from the tour will now give him more time with his partner Kalani Miller. The pair are expected to have a baby in just under three months.

Kelly Slater prepares to compete at the Margaret River Pro.
Kelly Slater (pictured) has appeared to retire from professional surfing.

While Slater may have called it for his time on tour, the American has left the door open for a return in Fiji later this year. Slater has never won in Margaret River and didn't want to finish his career this way.

"I've had a fight with this wave (at Margaret River) my whole career, so it's not necessarily the wave I want to end on. I have put in for a wildcard for Fiji and we'll see how that goes," he said.