Slater pulls out of Europe
Just seconds after walking out of the Lemoore wavepool, Kelly Slater announced he was withdrawing from the European leg of the Championship Tour.
"I'm not planning on going to Europe," Slater told Rosie Hodge after she enquired about his next contest appearance.
Slater had surfed twelve waves over the previous four days at the wavepool finishing third in the event.
The last time Slater surfed a CT contest was at Jeffrey's Bay where he finished 25th. Prior to that, in early May, he surfed the Founders Cup at the wavepool leading Team USA to second place. Later the same month Slater withdrew from Keramas through injury, though on the day that contest began he was riding an XXL swell at Cloudbreak.
While at Jeffrey's Bay, Slater announced he'd be retiring from competition next year, though with a current ranking of 32 and the European leg uncontested he'd have to rely on an injury wildcard.
Two injury wildcards are doled out each year, however Caio Ibelli and John John Florence also have legitimate claims and will be vying for them.
Structural changes to the Championship Tour may provide the solution. With just two contests (out of eleven) securing sponsorship for the 2019 CT, the sponsor wildcard is becoming redundant and three injury wildcards may be issued.