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A surfing preview ahead of the Paris Olympics, the SHISEIDO Tahiti Pro 2024 event, is off to a great start. And the 52-year-old veteran Kelly Slater is not stationed on the sidelines, but back in action! Earlier this year, the World Surf League confirmed Kelly’s wildcard entry to this and the Corona Fiji Pro competition. Therefore, Slater, who was inching toward retirement, has now chucked a full-blown U-turn.

However, what makes his appearance extraordinarily special is the venue. None other than the Teahupo’o surf line, which holds incredible memories for the 11-time champion. What exactly endears the surfers paradise to his heart though?

Kelly Slater’s 25-year-long Tahiti affair

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Honoring Slater’s famous return to the ongoing Tahiti Pro contest, the WSL has recently uploaded an Instagram reel featuring the G.O.A.T. himself. Speaking straight from the heart, the video makes known the legend’s take on his 25th year of vying for glory at Teahupo’o. More so, the sheer sight of Slater on a boat exclaiming that it feels ‘Great to be back!‘ makes it a treat for the surfing fans.

 

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Kelly begins by mentioning how it feels normal for him to be back in the sport. He then reminisces about the initial days of his surfing career, dating back to 2000 when he first entered the Tahiti waters, which sends his fans on a nostalgic trip. Thereafter, opening about Teahupo’o and what he reckons makes it unique, Slater describes it asOne of the most special places in the surf world!’ Packed with ‘so much intensity,’ he feels it could give a surfer the ‘best wave in the world!’ 

From his seasoned viewpoint, he feels that Teahupo’o exemplifies a perfectly balanced version. He articulates it as ‘playful’ but still having ‘that element of danger because at any time you could get in the wrong spot and hit the reef pretty good.’ Moreover, passing on fragments of valuable knowledge that he spent years garnering, Slater explains that the Teahupo’o surface is the ‘ultimate kind to put yourself in the right spot and get your reflex back sharp.

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If one looks at the archives, Slater holds numerous records at Tahiti and has meticulously grasped the surface’s characteristics. According to the WSL website, Slater’s high-flying career has registered five of 56 Championship Tour event wins at Tahiti. Amongst these, the 2005 and 2016 ones are specifically memorable because of Slater’s Perfect Heats here. Therefore, he is a know-it-all on this surface, and thus fans are thrilled to watch him compete here.

Tahiti Pro 2024 will mark another Slater-John clash?

Adding to the event’s hype is the return of a much-anticipated face-off between the Paris Olympic entrant John John Florence and Kelly Slater. Exactly 10 years after their 2014 competitive heat, the Tahiti Pro 2024 might see an edge-of-the-seat re-match between the two.

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While surfing buffs still fondly remember the 2014 clash as the greatest competitive heat, they are now excited to see if Slater gets the better of John again, or if the latter steals the show, alarming his competitors before the Olympics. And John’s recent statements have amplified their expectations. Claiming that he is ‘waiting for this re-match‘ the 31-year-old has emitted a sense of regained confidence. “I’ve had a couple of heats against Kelly that’ve been amazing, and it would be incredible to have that rematch again,” – bemoaned Florence once in a heartfelt interview, thus making the showdown one to keep our eyes peeled for.

Regardless of whether Slater triumphs this time, Tahiti will remain a cherished chapter in his legendary career. But if John Florence’s game plan bites the dust, it will ensure that Slater’s supposed retirement ends on a high.