NewsMEO Rip Curl Pro PortugalJosh Kerr

Josh Kerr Goes Out Spinning

In terms of retirement announcements, Josh Kerr's was hardly in the league of Fred Patacchia's. The Hawaiian, after scoring at 10 in a Round Three Trestles years ago, promptly not only quit the Championship Tour, but quit the competition as well.

Josh Kerr, however, more drip-fed his big news. After winning his Round One heat he said that he was now looking forward to the next chapter in his life. Then when pressed by Rosy just after he taken out his good friend Jordy Smith in Round Three, he announced that 2017 would be his last year on the CT.

Josh Kerr of Australia will surf in Round Five of the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal after placing second in Heat 3 of Round Four at Supertubos, Peniche, Portugal. Kerr not looking quite ready for the retirement home. WSL / Laurent Masurel

Even if he does manage to re-qualify, he said he would only surf the first event on the Gold Coast, with a view to performing one last time in the waves where he grew up. Today when he launched one of the biggest alley-oops seen in the competition to score the second-highest individual wave score of the day, it seemed that the 33-year-old still had every chance of making that dream happen. However, a late loss to Miguel Pupo means Kerr is out of the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal and will now say his farewell at Pipe.

His performances today, though, were a timely reminder of just what Kerr brings to the CT and what we are going to miss. That he remains one of the most progressive surfers on tour is incredible given that he first came on tour in 2007. Before that he was known as an "air guy" after winning multiple Air Show series and being famous for inventing new maneuvers year after year.

Josh Kerr of Australia will surf in Round Five of the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal after placing second in Heat 3 of Round Four at Supertubos, Peniche, Portugal. Despite a decade on tour, Kerr remains one of the sport's most progressive surfers. WSL / Laurent Masurel

It was a surprise to many, then, when he made the CT, as many fans didn't realize he had more to his surfing than just soaring above the lip. While he struggled initially, when he did find his groove he proved to be one of the most consistent, and well-rounded, surfers, in the top 32.

"It was pretty exciting when I found my feet on tour in 2011," Kerr told the WSL earlier in the year. "Prior to that I had dropped off twice and so when I started achieving the results I knew I was capable of, that was big. Once I was in the top 10, it felt like it was easier to stay there."

Josh Kerr (AUS) just before the Round One at MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal 2017 in Peniche, Portugal Contemplating a life without contest singlets. WSL / Laurent Masurel

Kerr finished in the top 10 in each year from 2011 to 2014, was 11th in 2015 and 13th in 2016. In that time Kerr also proved himself as one of the era's great heavy-water chargers. He made the Final of the Pipe Masters in 2012 and every time Teahupo'o has gone Code Red over the last six years, Kerr has always been one of the standouts. He further cemented his big-wave credentials when he won the Todos Santos Challenge in 2015. He remains the only CT surfer to have won a Big Wave Tour event.

However while the results and the performances over the last decade mean there will be a massive hole on the CT next year, it is the way that Kerr has conducted himself that might be missed even more. Kerr has been an unfailingly positive presence in professional surfing. The results have been important, but not as much as having fun. As a young father he has also had an impressive and humble perspective on his own achievements and has known exactly where his priorities lie.

Josh Kerr (AUS) with the claim in Round 1 of the 2014 Billabong Pro Tahiti Charging Teahupo'o in 2014. WSL / Will H-S

It was unsurprising, then, that he acknowledged his retirement was based on putting his family first. With a number of business opportunities already up and running, and currently no major sponsor, he said it would be selfish to continue to chase results, when his presence is more needed at home.

Before that happens, we can now look forward to seeing Josh surf one more CT event at the Billabong Pipe Masters. His announcement may have been low-key, but hopefully he goes out with the full fireworks that his surfing, and his class act, deserve.

Kerr Goes Big
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One day after announcing his retirement, the Australian veteran looks lighter than ever.
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