After competing in the J-Bay Open and the Surf Ranch Pro, 11-time World Champion Kelly Slater continues to struggle with problematic injuries to his right foot.
"Every time I surf it's just a little more time I need off, so I think I'm going to buckle down these next couple months," said Slater after the conclusion of the Surf Ranch Pro last week. "I probably couldn't requalify at this point anyway, so I'm just going to buckle down, get into my rehab, get my body right, and get to Pipe relatively healthy. Then get into the new year and get myself really fit."
At the 2017 J-Bay Open, Slater broke two metatarsal bones in his right foot after getting bounced in a barrel during a routine practice session. It was the fifth foot injury since 2003 for the 46-year-old surfer.
At the time, he took to Instagram, describing the injury as, "Kinda like smashing my foot with a big hammer as hard as I can."
"I'm guessing surgery and a six week holiday is in order," continued Slater. "Sometimes a bad thing is a good thing. I'll make the best of my time off."
After undergoing surgery to repair the break, Slater remained sidelined from competition until midway through the 2018 Championship Tour season. He was finally able to return to competition at the same venue he suffered his initial injury. Unfortunately, the road to recovery has been been fraught with potholes.
Until he paddled out for his first heat this past July, his appearance in South Africa at the 2018 J-Bay Open remained questionable after he sustained a strained ligament, also known as turf toe, to the same foot while chasing a swell in Fiji.
He finished equal 25th at J-Bay. Then, sighting complications with the injury, withdrew from the following contest, the Tahiti Pro.
Feeling well enough to compete at the recent Surf Ranch Pro, he put in an impressive performance. Making the final, he came away with a 3rd place finish, but ultimately, was unsatisfied with how his foot felt.
"As of now I'm not planning on doing Europe," said Slater after his final run at the Surf Ranch. "I'm just going to focus on getting this thing right. Every time I think I move forward I kind of take a couple steps back."
"The latest injury I did to it in May/June in Fiji was a really bad one. I kind of underestimated a little bit," continued Slater. I shouldn't have been surfing by J-Bay time.
I probably should have taken two straight months off at that time, and that was probably four or five weeks after I injured it. So, that set me back at least a month, if not two. That June injury was more like an August, September, October thing before I would be good to go."
As he noted, Slater anticipates returning to competition this December in time for the final jewel of the Triple Crown of Surfing. Winning his first Pipe Masters title in 1994 and his last one in 2013, he's won the event a record six times throughout the course of his historic career.