Time to adjust that fantasy team – Kelly Slater's pulled out of the upcoming Bells contest, still suffering after folding his foot in half at J-Bay last year.
With Slater out, Michael February will take up the jersey and will also be full-time on the tour once Fanning retires after the Bells event. And doesn't that hit you? Because now, we'll (likely) never see Fanning and Slater have one, final showdown in the Bells arena – which would have made for compelling viewing, especially if it's classic Bells. The competition will run from March 28.
But all is not lost, depending on how you split the situation, because we'll see Kelly vs Mick in the Founders' Cup, a competition taking place in Kelly's wave pool, albeit it won't be head-to-head as such. Instead, Kelly is team captain of the USA and Mick a part of team Oz, captained by Steph Gilmore. The format's a little fuzzy but it's likely that each individual will ride X amount of waves, taking the best score overall forward. Anyway, that's happening in May.
"I think it's best that I properly rehabilitate the injury and choose to surf wholeheartedly. I'll be back when the time is right," Kelly said. It is not surprising, Kelly's injury at J-Bay sounded particularly horrendous and you can read about it HERE.
Cover shot by Maarten Van de Velde