Robert Kelly Slater is an American professional surfer known for his competitive prowess and style. He has been crowned ASP World Tour Champion a record 11 times, including 5 consecutive titles in 1994–98. He is the youngest at age 20 and the oldest at age 39 to win the title.
Upon winning his 5th world title in 1997, Slater passed Australian surfer Mark Richards to become the most successful champion in the history of the sport. In 2007 he also became the all-time leader in career event wins by winning the Boost Mobile Pro event at Lower Trestles near San Clemente, California. The previous record was held by Slater’s childhood hero, three-time world champion Tom Curren.
After earlier being awarded the title prematurely as a result of a miscalculation by the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), on November 6, 2011 Slater officially won his eleventh ASP world title at the Rip Curl Pro Search San Francisco, by winning his 4th round heat.
In May 2005, in the final heat of the Billabong Tahiti Pro contest at Teahupo’o, Slater became the first surfer ever to be awarded two perfect scores for a total 20 out of 20 points under the ASP two-wave scoring system (the corresponding honor under the previous three-wave system belongs to fellow American Shane Beschen who achieved the feat in 1996). He did it again on June 2013 at the quarter finals at the Volcom Fiji Pro with two perfect ten waves, only the fourth person in history to do so. Since 1990, Slater had been sponsored primarily by surfwear industry giant Quiksilver until his recent departure on April 1, 2014 to collaborate with fashion brand conglomerate Kering.
Kelly exclusively rides Channel Islands surfboards equipped with his own signature series of FCS fin masons.
Slater was born on February 11, 1972 in Cocoa Beach, Florida, where he continues to reside. He is the son of Judy (Moriarity) and Stephen Slater. He has a teenage daughter named Taylor, and has Syrian (from a great-grandfather) and Irish ancestry. He has an older brother, Sean, and a younger brother, Stephen.
In his spare time Slater enjoys playing the guitar, composing sonnets and spending quality time with longtime girlfriend, Kalani Miller who often travels and supports him on the ASP World Tour. Some of his favorite surf spots include Mondos in Ventura, California, Pipeline in Hawaii, Kirra in Australia, Jeffreys Bay in South Africa, Minis in Ireland, Taghazout in Morocco, Soup Bowls in Barbados, and Sebastian Inlet near his home in Florida. He is also an avid golfer, with a +2 handicap. Slater is also interested in the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He is a blue belt. Some of his surfing inspirations are Andy Irons, Shane Dorian, Josh Kerr, Ian Michaelson (music producer of San Luis Obispo, California), Drew Phelps, Joseph Neves, Hunter Collins, Andrew Bloom, Ken Wells, and Dane Reynolds.
Slater played the recurring character Jimmy Slade on eight episodes of the popular TV show Baywatch in the early 1990s. He appeared in an episode of the reality show The Girls Next Door, and has starred in many surf films during his career.
In the late 1990s Slater, with friends and fellow pro surfers Rob Machado and Peter King, formed a band called The Surfers. The trio released an album in 1998 titled Songs from the Pipe, a reference to the famous surf spot Pipeline on Oahu, Hawaii. Kelly toured Australia with his band, performing in venues such as the Opera House and parliament house. He was given an honorary membership to the Rickson Cricket Club in northwest Sydney.
Slater performed a song with Ben Harper during Harper’s concert in Santa Barbara on August 1, 2006. He also performed Rockin’ in the Free World with grunge band Pearl Jam on July 7, 2006 in San Diego. In 1999, he appeared alongside Garbage singer Shirley Manson in the promotional video for the band’s single “You Look So Fine”. He played a man washed up on a seashore, then rescued by Manson.
In 2003 Slater released his autobiography, Pipe Dreams: A Surfer’s Journey. In 2008 he released a second book with Phil Jarratt, entitled “Kelly Slater: For the Love”.
In addition to the ASP tour, Slater competed in the X-Games in 2003 and 2004.
In 2004, Slater completed his Masters Degree in Criminal Law at Sydney University, Australia. Slater began studying for the degree in 1998, but because of his schedule had to study part-time.
Slater is a fundraiser and spokesperson for suicide prevention awareness. He has surfed in celebrity events for Surfers Against Suicide, telling sports website ‘Athletes Talk’: “I’ve lost a couple of friends myself to suicide and it’s just a horrible thing that can be prevented. People get in this dark place and they don’t know what to do so it’s always nice to see a non-profit that isn’t turning into anything else other than just trying to help people.
Slater is also an accomplished golfer and guitarist, and in 2006 played live in San Diego, California with Pearl Jam. He also has an interest in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Slater is passionate about preserving oceans globally and protecting temperate reefs in California through his relationship with Reef Check.
On May 8, 2010 the United States House of Representatives honored Slater in H. Res. 792 for his “outstanding and unprecedented achievements in the world of surfing and for being an ambassador of the sport and excellent role model.” This resolution, sponsored by Florida representative Bill Posey and sponsored by 10 representatives, passed without objection by a voice vote.
He historically and exclusively rode Channel Islands Surfboards equipped with his own signature series of FCS fin masons. As the media hype grew around Slater’s lack of board stickers in 2015, Slater had been seen riding unlabelled Firewire surfboards, acquiring the company in 2014. In 2016 Slater released his own line of boards. As of August 2017 there are four Slater Designs models in the Firewire range: the Gamma, Cymatic, Omni & Sci-fi.
Since 1990, Slater had been sponsored primarily by surfwear industry giant Quiksilver until his recent departure on April 1, 2014 to collaborate with fashion brand conglomerate Kering. In a statement released on his social media accounts, Slater states “For years I’ve dreamt of developing a brand that combines my love of clean living, responsibility and style. The inspiration for this brand comes from the people and cultures I encounter in my constant global travels and this is my opportunity to build something the way I have always wanted to.” After Leaving Quiksilver, Slater, in collaboration with Kering, established the eco-friendly and sustainable apparel company ‘Outerknown’, further building on his passion for the environment and sustainability.
Slater also established the beverage company Purps, and became a brand ambassador for The Chia Co.
Arguably Slater’s greatest entrepreneurial achievement was the unveiling of Slater’s Wave Pool, a ten-year ‘experiment’ to create the perfect inland wave, situated in inland California. The project was a success and the surfing world was abuzz with the possibilities, mostly due to the wave’s perfect shape and speed. In 2016 the World Surf League acquired a majority stake in the Kelly Slater Wave Company (KSWC) for an undisclosed sum. The WSL held a test event for 300 or more, including Filipe Toledo, Mick Fanning, Kanoa Igarashi, Gabriel Medina and others, at the Kelly Slater Surf Ranch on Tuesday, September 19, 2017. The Surf Ranch also hosted the WSL Founders Cup on May 5–6, 2018. The contest featured five teams – USA, Brazil, Australia, Europe and World – made up of men’s and women’s surfers from the WSL Championship Tour.
There is speculation Slater is developing Surf Ranch Florida, a man-made surfing lake in Palm Beach County. County commissioners on Thursday unanimously approved plans for the county to evaluate the proposed surf facility in 2017. Brian Waxman, project leader for Surf Ranch Florida, said the World Surf League is considering bringing the wave lake to the Sunshine State for its weather and heritage of world-class surfers. It would encompass an 80-acre industrial lot east of Jupiter Farms, near the Pine Glades natural area.