Surfing legend Kelly Slater may have competed in Australian waters for the last time after being knocked out of the Gold Coast Pro at Snapper Rocks.
Slater was eliminated in the round of 48 on Monday at the World Surf League challenger series event, finishing third in a four-man heat.
Italy’s Leonardo Fioravanti and American Cam Richards advanced to the next stage from the heat, with Slater and Brazil’s Alejo Muniz bowing out.
It may mark the end of the 50-year-old American superstar’s competitive days in Australia, with the 11-time world champion widely expected to call time on his career after this year’s WSL championship tour concludes.
The victory was a special moment for Fioravanti as the Italian looks to re-qualify for next year’s championship tour, having fallen below the mid-season cut line following last week’s Margaret River Pro in Western Australia.
“To surf against Kelly Slater is always an honour and I want to say now a big thank you to Kelly Slater – he has been my inspiration and he has done so much for the sport for a long time,” Fioravanti said.
Also among those through to the round of 24 is Julian Wilson, as the Australian’s return continues after he stepped away from the tour following last year’s Olympics.
In the women’s draw, Sally Fitzgibbons continued her rebound from missing the WSL championship tour mid-season cut by winning her round of 32 heat to ease into the last 16.
Joining Fitzgibbons in the next round are compatriots Nikki van Dijk and Macy Callaghan with half of the eight round of 32 match-ups completed.
Former world champions Stephanie Gilmore and Tyler Wright are yet to compete in their round of 32 heats, with competition set to resume on Tuesday.