Surfing legend Kelly Slater has been injured for most of the 2018 competition season, but on Sunday, he landed in third place in the first World Surf League competition at his very own Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California.
The 46-year-old finished with 16.27 points, behind winner Gabriel Medina’s 17.86 points and second-place finisher Filipe Toledo’s 17.03 – both of Brazil – at the inaugural Surf Ranch Pro and the first Championship Tour event ever to be held in a wave pool.
The event is the eighth stop on the World Surf League Championship Tour and Slater had only been able to compete in just one prior to this week; he was 25th there. The 11-time world champion has been recovering from a foot injury suffered late last season. His last top-three Championship Tour performance came in 2016, when he won one event and was third at two others.
At Slater’s Surf Ranch, a $30 million facility, artificial waves are created in the 2,000-foot-long man-made lake by a large vehicle that runs along tracks and creates perfect, consistent waves that reach up to 6½ feet high.
In the final, each competitor rode six waves — three lefts and three rights — over three runs. The best left plus the best right score for each athlete were combined to determine the winners.
Slater was in sixth place after the qualifying round. Among his many distinctions, Slater is both the youngest and the oldest world champion ever, winning first in 1992 at the age of 20 and last in 2011 at 38.
Surfing will make its debut at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.