There have been murmurs about Kelly Slater dropping out of this week’s Oi Rio Pro, and the WSL has finally confirmed the 11-time champion won’t be competing in Brazil. The details are minimal, to say the least.
A Fantasy Surfer roster published on SURFER’s blog as early as May 5th had Kelly missing from Round 1 heat draws, which was tweeted out early Monday morning. Oddly, Slater’s name still appeared in the WSL’s Heat 9 matchup that now features Jeremy Flores, Adam Melling and Josh Kerr. So without any official statement from Kelly or the World Surf League, the puzzle was tough to piece together.
Finally, the news was buried in a WSL press release and preview of the contest that came out late Monday afternoon.
“Owen Wright (AUS) and Bede Durbidge (AUS) remain out with injury while Kai Otton (AUS) and Kelly Slater (USA) have withdrawn for personal reasons,” it reads. Those are the only details about the current world #28 missing the fourth stop on the world tour. So far this year Slater has two 25ths and a 13th coming out of Australia, results that would usually fill up his throw aways in another year.
There’s a myriad of reasons Slater could have pulled himself out of the contest. The notoriously poor water quality, a group of competitorswitnessing an attempted murder near the contest site and a wave of Zika virus headlines coming out of Brazil are all controversies surrounding the contest before it’s even started. Whether or not any of those contributed to Kelly missing this one is something fans can only speculate, but in the meantime Brazilian Lucas Silveira will be paddling out in Slater’s place come Round 1.