Watch 44-Year-Old Kelly Slater Score The Ninth Perfect Heat Ever In Tahiti

Managing Editor, Life
08.23.16

We don’t cover surfing all too often. But sometimes the surf gods (real and mechanized) leave us with no choice, and this is one of those times. With the World Surf League (WSL) tour back in Teahupo’o — the site of the greatest heat in the history of the sport — 44-year-old Slater sliced waves and competition like he was riding a Hattori Hanzō.

The day offered up glassy, eight-to-10 foot waves and Slater was ready to capitalize. The 11-time WSL champ (and all around nice guy) posted a perfect 20 heat total in his Round 5 competition with Hawaiian Keanu Asing. In 40 years of pro surfing, there have now been nine perfect heats — Slater owns three of them.

“The first 10 of that heat was a more difficult ride definitely, but the second one was a bigger, more perfect, classic tube,” Slater said, shrugging the whole thing off with his trademark chill, “I’ve been feeling good all week.”

There is no athlete on earth who’s enjoyed such a prolonged peak. No athlete ever managed to keep dropping astounding performances at a steady clip for such a long period of time. It’s not really up for debate. We are living in an era in which we can still witness surfing’s G.O.A.T. in real time. That’s quite the privilege.

The final, a rematch between Slater and Hawaii’s John John Florence, is live right now.

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