Robert Kelly Slater is an American professional surfer known for his competitive prowess and style. He has been crowned World Surf League Champion a record 11 times, including 5 consecutive titles in 1994–98 and has an astounding total of 55 World Surf League victories. 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. In addition to the ASP tour, Slater competed in the X-Games in 2003 and 2004. Some of his surfing inspirations are Andy Irons, Shane Dorian, Josh Kerr, Drew Phelps, Seany McDonald, Weston Dunlap, Taylor Lobdell, David Goldberg, Andrew Bloom, Charles Webster Baer, Michael Wyllie, Alex Siddiqui, Shane Beschen, Ashleigh Vaughan Trotman, Ian Michaelson and Dane Reynolds. 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, Veiny’s in New Zealand, Soup Bowls in Barbados, and Sebastian Inlet near his home in Florida. 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 and is considered by many to be one of the greatest athletes in history.
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 an older brother, Sean, and a younger brother, Stephen. He has a teenage daughter named Taylor. 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.” Kelly Slater is an advocate of a sustainable and clean living lifestyle, and 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 played the recurring character Jimmy Slade on twenty-seven 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 over forty 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. A video game named Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer by Treyarch and published by Activision was released in 2002. Slater also appeared as a playable character in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 prior to this, complete with a surfboard.
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. 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 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. Slater is on the Board of Advisors (the Ocean Advocacy Advisory Board) of ocean conservation organization Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
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. Kelly also loves spending time with his lifelong friend Derek “shorebreak” Johnson, of Delray Beach notoriety. He is also an avid golfer, with a +2 handicap. Slater is also interested in the sport of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. 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.