Cocoa Beach Native Kelly Slater Awarded WSL Season Wildcard for 2024, Keeps His Olympic Games Paris 2024 Hopes Alive
By Space Coast Daily // April 26, 2023
KELLY SLATER – 2012 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame INDUCTEE
ABOVE VIDEO: The 51-year-old Slater, who graduated from Cocoa Beach Jr/Sr. High School in 1991, has been crowned ASP World Champion a record 11 times, including five consecutive titles from 1994–1998, and was not only the youngest title-holder in ’92, but also the oldest when he claimed the title at age 39. He is also the all-time leader in career WCT event wins. (Video Air Date May 2012)
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Cocoa Beach native and Space Coast Sports Hall of Famer Kelly Slater was awarded the WSL Season Wildcard for 2023-2024. The Season Wildcard gives Slater entry into Championship Tour (CT) events following the Mid-season Cut and entry into the first half of the 2024 CT season.
Slater, as a former World Champion, and Defay, as a previous Final 5 competitor, will earn ranking points as the Season Wildcards and thus will be eligible for the WSL Final 5 rankings, where the Top 5 surfers on the men’s and women’s CT will compete in the Rip Curl WSL Finals to compete for the 2023 World Title.
Slater’s ranking points will also give him the opportunity to compete for provisional qualification for the Olympic Games Paris 2024.
The WSL is the Tier 1 pathway to qualification for the world’s best surfers to the Olympic Games. Of the 48 athletes competing in the games, the Top 18 competitors (10 men and 8 women) will qualify via the 2023 WSL Championship Tour’s final rankings.
Each country can only qualify a maximum of two men and two women. Learn more about Olympic qualification at WorldSurfLeague.com/QualificationSeason.
11-time World Champion Slater is regarded as the greatest competitive surfer of all time, holding nearly every major record in the sport, including 11 World Titles, 56 CT victories, and being both the youngest and oldest World Champion in men’s history. He’s had a huge influence on the sport through his progressive surfing, competitive nature, and wave system technology.
Slater’s incredible career started with winning Rookie of the Year in 1990 and spans more than three decades. He won his first World Title in 1992 and his most recent Title in 2011.
In 2022, Slater claimed his 56th CT victory at Pipeline, just a few days before his 50th birthday. Now at age 51, Slater is in search of adding yet another World Title and a provisional Olympic qualification to his name.
Cocoa Beach is Home
Born in 1972 and raised in Cocoa Beach, where he still resides, Slater learned how to surf in the Atlantic waters at Fourth Street North with his older brother Sean and his younger brother Stephen.
In Slater’s opinion, Cocoa Beach is as good a place as any to develop the fundamentals and skills needed to be a championship surfer.
“It breaks farther out,” he says, “so it’s easier to learn. If I had the choice of learning in Florida or Hawaii, I’d choose Florida. You don’t try to run before you can walk.” Sebastian Inlet is still one of his favorite surfing venues.
As a perennial amateur champion, which included six Eastern Surfing Association and four national titles, Slater and his brother Sean started to appear in board-shorts ads in the mid-80s, and when he was ready to join the pro ranks in 1990, he was one of the most recognizable athletes in the sport of surfing.