25 years after winning his first world title, and with retirement rumours thick in the air, Kelly Slater has confirmed he'll be back in 2017 for one final dig at a 12th crown before hanging up the wetsuit for good.
Speaking to the WSL following John Florence's world title victory in Portugal, Slater said he was preparing for one final shot at the ultimate prize, which he last won back in 2011.
"I'm going to take one more stab at a title next year and really try to put a year together", Slater told the league.
"I'm pretty inspired by what panned out this year, so I'm going to take these next four months, get my body together, and get my motivation and see if I can really put together a focused year".
Despite no concrete retirement announcement in the interview, the 45-year-old later confirmed via Instagram that 2017 would indeed be his final season on the world tour.
Following a disappointing start to 2016, Kelly made a triumphant return to form mid-season, claiming victory at the Billabong Pro Tahiti on his way to an unlikely title challenge. John Florence's eventual title win is believed to have inspired Slater's decision to continue, having mentored Florence since he was barely able to stand on a surfboard.
"I felt like a proud brother [when John won the world title]. I've known John since he was in the single digits", said Slater.
"When he and his brothers were so small, I could get him on my back and have him stand up while I was bodysurfing. I could have left [Portugal] after losing, but thought it would be nice to be here and see what plays out and if did happen, be on hand".
"[I've been] hugely inspired by the young guys on tour these past few months and what John John has accomplished this year", he added on Instagram.
It's almost impossible to imagine a world tour without Kelly Slater, who made his first appearance way back in 1991. He went on to win world titles in 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2011, well and truly cementing himself as the greatest surfer of all time.
As for Kelly's plans after retirement?
"I'll go find the best waves on earth 'til my last day", he says. Here's to that.
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