For most surfers, falling headfirst off your board and landing in the water means the end of the ride. Kelly Slater is not most surfers. And just in case anyone needed a reminder, he demonstrated his jaw-dropping mastery of the sport of surfing yesterday at the Pipe Masters competition in Hawaii. Yahoo Australia reports that after nosediving into the water while riding a barreling wave, he emerged from the pipe unscathed and on top of his board, as if nothing had happened.
Slater was surfing through the barrel of a wave when he suddenly wiped out and fell off the front of his board. While tumbling into the water, he managed to grab his board and somehow got himself back on it. Mere seconds after falling, he was back on his board and shredding the wave again. The World Surf League posted a replay of the miraculous recovery on Twitter:
— World Surf League (@wsl) December 17, 2018
Other surfers at the competition expressed disbelief at what they’d seen, and even Slater himself seemed surprised at what he managed to pull off.
“Well, that was interesting” he wrote on Instagram after the ride. “I thought I just fell straight onto my belly.”
Although he clearly still has plenty of tricks left up his sleeve, the 46-year-old surfer is thinking about stepping back from competition in the next year or two—possibly after the 2020 Olympics, when surfing will be included as an Olympic sport for the first time in history.
“I’m looking at potentially next year being my last full-time competitive year,” he told Men’s Journal in a recent interview. “And if I made the Olympics, then I would probably still compete somewhat consistently in the beginning of that year 2020, just to keep myself fresh.”
He also gave a prediction on the next surfing phenom who’ll take his place on the water: Eli Hanneman, a young surfer in Maui.
“He’s 15 and he’s unbelievable.”