Kelly Slater, who last year won a remarkable 10th world surfing title, will compete in the season-opening Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, which begins as early as this weekend in Australia.
Beyond that, however, your guess might be as good as his as to whether he'll strive for an 11th title or retire from competitive surfing after the first of 11 competitions in 2011, or whether he'll retire somewhere in the middle of the schedule. (No other ASP World Tour surfer has won more than four titles.)
"Either a great way to go out or to start another campaign -- I can't honestly answer that right now," Slater said. "I've thought about doing a farewell aloha tour and saying bye to the tour, and I've thought about retiring after this event for real."
Slater, who recently turned 39, has had nothing to prove for so long that his heart has not always been into competing on the highest level. But when his motivation has been evident, he has been dominant.
There seems to be plenty to motivate the Floridian superstar for the season-opener, most likely to be held at fabled Snapper Rocks. Slater, who is sponsored by Quiksilver, has not won the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast since 2008, and he'll compete after being honored Thursday night for his dominant performance in 2010.
Plus, if this is going to be his last World Tour contest, he'll undoubtedly want to go out with a victory, finally leaving the top tier of the tour to longtime Australian rivals and up-and-comers such as South Africa's Jordy Smith (a fourth-year pro who was second to Slater in the standings last season) and Dane Reynolds, also a fourth-year campaigner, who tied for fourth last season.
Reynolds, unfortunately, will miss the season-opener after recently undergoing knee surgery. The Quiksilver Pro could begin as early as Saturday and will be completed before March 10.
-- Pete Thomas
Photo of Kelly Slater courtesy of © ASP / CESTARI