Hobgood, however, believes Slater is done. "I think he knows how hard it was to get this seventh title," Hobgood says. "I don't think he would go after an eighth. I can't imagine it at this stage of his life." Hobgood predicts that Slater will be content to enter select contests to pursue Tom Curren's record of 33 career wins. Slater, who has 31, admits he wants to pass Curren. And, ever the competitor, he can't help but add that Curren racked up his total when the tour had nearly double the events each season.
Carroll believes Slater will be back but not for anything as prosaic as another entry in the record book. "Surfing well and understanding the waves is a lifelong development of skills," he says. "You can make endless mistakes. Each one will be a small mistake, but it will kind of drive you crazy. So a surfer like Kelly can go on getting better. I think he's far from finished."