Kelly Slater hints at retirement after Pipeline Pro win days before 50th birthday | Surfing

Kelly Slater has won for an eighth time at Pipeline, 30 years after his first victory at the famous surf break in Hawaii and just days shy of his 50th birthday.

The 11-time world champion dominated the decider in the season-opening WSL event against 22-year-old Hawaiian Seth Moniz on Sunday (AEDT).

A 56th top-level win was Slater’s first since Tahiti 2016 and capped a wild campaign on the famous North Shore break that included an incredible buzzer-beating barrel to reach the quarter-finals.

Slater also relied on an interference penalty on semi-final rival Miguel Pupo earlier on finals days.

Slater toyed with Moniz, whose father Tony was a former rival of the Californian, in the early stages of their final before finding his way through two deep barrels, scoring nine and 8.17-point rides to set the bar high.

Moniz replied, somehow pushing through a heavy, breaking barrel to send his fanbase on the beach into a frenzy. A stumble as he emerged cost him though, judges marking him down to effectively seal his fate.

Slater and Moniz did trade huge, late-dropping barrels for scores of 9.77 and 9.43 respectively with their final waves, to cap off a spectacular day of action as the American legend closed out victory – 18.77 to 12.53.

The victory puts Slater’s quest for a 12th world title firmly in the spotlight, although he could be hindered if unable to compete in the two Australian legs this year.

An outspoken critic of mandatory vaccination, Australian officials have made clear there will be no exemptions given to the surfing great to compete at Bells Beach and Margaret River in April and May.

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