Huntington Beach, California — After a three-year hiatus from full-time event competition, six-time world champion surfer Kelly Slater returns to the Association of Surfing Professionals World Championship Tour. Quiksilver, Slater's sponsor of twelve years, is the proud host of the surfing star's first event back on the tour, the Quiksilver Pro in Kirra, which will kick off the 2002 season in March. "We are excited to support Kelly, a long-time part of the Quiksilver family, as he continues to push the boundaries of surfing with his extraordinary talent," said Bob McKnight, CEO of Quiksilver Inc.
"To have Kelly Slater back on the ASP WCT Tour is great news for professional surfing and surfing in general," says Harry Hodge, President of Quiksilver International. "Kelly is universally recognized as the greatest surfer of all time, and at only 29 years of age he will be in the prime of his career in 2002."
Slater, from Cocoa Beach, Florida, is the sport's most decorated athlete. From early in his career, it was clear that Slater was destined for greatness, winning his first world title — and becoming the youngest to do so — at age twenty in 1992. Since then he has dominated the tour, winning events around the globe and becoming the highest prize-money winner in the history of the sport. Slater set a record in 1998 when he won his fifth consecutive world title. He holds a record six world titles.
"I'm extremely excited and I think that it's a good time for me personally to get back on the tour," says Slater. "I also hope to be able to help the ASP make some positive changes within the sport of surfing itself."
The ASP is eager as well to commence the 2002 season with Slater on board. "News of the return of Kelly Slater to the tour warmed my heart," says ASP President Wayne "Rabbit" Bartholomew.. "When Kelly first left, he was critical of some aspects of the tour, and after three years of hard work, revamped progressive judging criteria, and a tour schedule in the best locations around the world, it's the best time for The Maestro to return. This is indeed wonderful news."