Mathematicians refer to the number 12 as a “sublime number.” It has a perfect number of divisors, and the divisors also add up to to a perfect number. There are only two such numbers, and the other is 76 digits long. Not only is 12 so incredible its considered awe-inspiring mathematically, it also has historic cultural significance – 12 months in a calendar year, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 apostles of Christ, the twelve imams (in certain Islamic sects), etc., etc. 11, on the other hand, much less significant. Much less perfect.
That fact must be gnawing away at 11x world champ Kelly Slater. On second thought, maybe not. But he did reveal in a recent interview with the WSL that he’s still in it to win it as far as a world title’s concerned, though next year would be his last attempt at clinching number 12.
“I think I’m going to take one more stab at a Title next year and really try to put a year together,” Kelly told the WSL. “I’m pretty inspired by what panned out this year in the back half. So I’m going to take these next four months, get my body together, and get my motivation and my boards and everything right and see if I can really put together a focused year.”
Ending on 12, in his final year would certain be a poetic finish to an incredible career. It’d be, dare I say, sublime? It’d also likely inspire conspiracy theories up the wazoo. “Do the Illuminati have their hands in surf?” you might find yourself saying.
The second conclusion to be drawn from Kelly’s statement, though, is post-2017 he’ll no longer be after world titles. Sure he didn’t say outright that he’ll be quitting the tour after next year. But, it’s hard to fathom the champ would allow himself to compete as a shell of his former self – no glimmer of hope to win a world title.
With John John’s world title, Mick’s year off, and statements like this from Kelly, the guard of professional surfing is changing before our very eyes. We’ll see if the old guard can get one more in before relinquishing their position to the new blood.