Kelly Slater is 48 years young today. Ranked 8th in the world last year, just this week he let it be known he was looking forward to another year on the grind. To date he’s got 11 world titles, 55 tour victories, has spent 30 years competing and invented his own wave in the middle of landlocked California country.
Other identifiable personalties of note that will also be celebrating 48 laps around the sun this year? Snoop Dogg, Method Man, Elon Musk, Johnny Knoxville, etc. etc.
But as we saw the end of 2019, where Kelly notched another semifinal finish in the Pipe Masters, dude may only be getting better with age. Will he win another event on tour? Maybe. Could he rekindle the magic and make another run at a historic 12th title? Possibly.
Age is irrelevant these days. A few nagging injuries and general wear and tear aside, besides the odd glass of chardonnay and bag of chia chips, Kelly’s taken impeccable care of himself over the years. As proven by his conversation with Joe Rogan, he cares more about what comes out of his body than most people do about what they’re putting into their body.
When Wayne Lynch “retired” from competition in 1978 he was only 27 years old. That seemed ancient by surfing’s terms back then, but consider that today Peruvian icon Felipe Pomar, now in his late 70s, has set his sights on surfing until he’s 100.
We’ve seen it in sport before. Boxer Bernard Hopkins was 48 years old when he claimed the the IBF light-heavyweight crown. George Foreman’s the oldest Heavyweight in history, winning his title at 45.
Shit, man, Momofuku Ando didn’t invent instant ramen until he was 48. Nobody knew who Susan Boyle was until her vocal cords made her famous at the ripe old age of, you guessed it, 48. And Julia Child didn’t publish a fucking cookbook until she was 50!
Martina Navratilova played pro tennis until she was 49 before retiring in 2006. Hockey legend Gordie Howe played in the NHL until he was 69. Gary Player played PGA golf until he was 73.
But the hero of them all is Polish centenarian Stanisław Kowalski. In 2015 he broke the record for the 100m sprint in his age division…he was 105. He also threw the shot put and discus in the track meet. Today he’s 109 and is the oldest living person in Poland.
If Kelly can pull a Kowalski it would mean his career is essentially just getting started. Could you imagine 60 more years of Kelly? Who knows, clearly stranger things have happened.