Kelly Slater relegated to elimination round at Margaret River Pro

Kelly Slater started the year with a bang, winning at Pipeline for the eighth time, but things haven’t gone to plan since then.

Kelly Slater’s visit to Australia is continuing to go awry, with the surfing icon relegated to the elimination round at the Margaret River Pro on Friday.

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Slater, 50, won his eighth Pipeline in February and after apparently becoming vaccinated against Covid-19, travelled to Australia to surf at Bells Beach earlier this month.

He couldn’t repeat his Pipeline heroics there, bowing out in the round of 32, and his quest to win a second event in 2022 hit a snag on Friday.

In their opening round heat, Ryan Callinan (13.37) and Hawaii’s Ezekiel Lau (15.00) comfortably defeated Slater (9.20), who has been forced into the elimination round for the third time this year.

Aussies Ben Spence, Jack Thomas and Jacob Willcox are among those joining Slater there; Thomas drawing Slater’s heat.

Elsewhere on day two, Aussie Callum Robson maintained the form that helped him knock Mick Fanning out of Bells Beach and finish the event second overall.

He won his heat in the opening round of the Margaret River Pro and was one of eight Aussies to advance to the round of 32; Ryan Callinan Jackson Baker, Owen Wright, Ethan Ewing, Connor O’Leary, Morgan Cibilic and Jack Robinson all qualified as well.

But it was two-time world champion American John John Florence who set the standard, decimating the competition in his heat to firm as a favourite.

The mid-season cut will come into effect at the conclusion of the Margaret River Pro, so the event looms as crucial for the surfers languishing towards the bottom of the rankings.

Slater has already made the cut so won’t be one of the 14 men eliminated after Margaret River.

The women did not surf on Friday, but eight will be sent packing at the end of the event.

Of the Aussie women, only Tyler Wright is guaranteed to survive the cut, but Aussie men Robson, Robinson and Ewing have all already made it through.

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