Oahu, Hawaii, (February 5, 2022) – 50 may or may not be the new 30, but it sure did look like it on Saturday.
Surfers Seth Moniz and Kelly Slater battled it out to the very end with Slater coming out on top after the final heat with 18.77 points to Moniz’ 12.53, securing Slater’s place in history and his 8th win at Pipeline.
A legend in the sport, Kelly Slater is set to turn 50 in six days, but age didn’t stop him from demonstrating patience, precision and tenacity in the World Surf League Men’s Championship Billabong Pro Pipeline against the 24-year old Hawaiian Seth Moniz. Slater went on to chalk up another win, 30 years after his very first win at Pipeline in 1992.
Hedging when talking about whether he’d go on to compete at Sunset Beach in Oahu, Hawaii, the second stop on the Men’s Championship Tour on February 11th, the 11-time world champion soaked up the moment.
Slater shared this thoughts while in the midst of the final heat, candid about the moment when he thought the win had slipped away.
“I was out there just telling myself just be in the moment,” he said during an interview with the WSL. “No matter how much tension there is, just breathe.”
“I just want to say thank you to everyone who’s here. I want to say thank you to all the surfers who push each other and push all of us to be our best. I want to say thank you to Seth. We did have a moment before the heat. He and I needed to go have a heat out there. He said push me and I said let’s do this, let’s go. And I knew he was the man for the job, you know? He’s the next bull and there was no underestimating him,” said Slater during his acceptance speech.
“I didn’t think I was against Seth. I thought I was against 20 points ’cause that’s what I know he can do out there. So I just tried to find my own little space and go for it. And you know, I don’t know how many more of these are going to happen, this honestly might be it. I might not show up at Sunset, I’m not sure yet. Imma have to have a little talk with myself. I turn 50 in 6 days,” he said.
“I’ve dedicated my life to what I do. I love it more than anything in the world. I sometimes hate it more than anything in the world. It just has everything for me. The whole time when you’re out there in the lead it can feel like you’ve got a hand on the trophy but you don’t yet. You get a little bit lax in a heat and things change real quick and the energy changes. I was telling Seth I thought that happened. The crowd went absolutely nuts on that left he had, I didn’t really realize he went to his belly,” said Slater.
Looking back over four decades of surfing, Pipeline holds a special place for the Cocoa Beach, Florida native.
“I focus and work my life at this wave since I was 12 years old. I first got out here and got my ass kicked at Backdoor in about a 2 foot wave, got pinned on the bottom. I paddled back to Ehukai and I was like man, I love that place. It’s given me all my favorite memories, all the most pleasure in my life and we’re just fortunate to have this opportunity,” he said.
The Men’s Pro Pipeline is especially meaningful for a generation of surfers and fans, dedicated in loving memory of Andy Irons, who passed away in 2010. Irons’ wife Lyndie and son Axel were on hand to share in the moment with Slater and Moniz.
The day marked Moniz’ first Championship Tour final and he called it a privilege to surf against Slater.
“Coming up with Kelly, we had a special moment right before our final and I was, it was just really special sharing the final with him out there,” said Moriz.
“Honestly I just felt like I was out there watching him surf, every time he got a wave it was like 8, 9, I was like Oh My God, here we go. I took some beatings in the heat before and making some big mistakes but it was an honor to surf against him. Who knows if he’s going to do this next year, so it was a big, big privilege for me to be out there with him.”
The event marks Slater’s 8th win at Pipeline. Slater is the oldest surfer to ever win at Pipeline, and oldest surfer to ever have a championship tour win.