Surfing: Kelly Slater to compete in inaugural Piha Pro in March

Kelly Slater last competed in New Zealand in 1993.
Kelly Slater last competed in New Zealand in 1993. Photo credit: Photosport

Eleven-time world surfing champion Kelly Slater will kick off his 2020 World Surf League (WSL) season in New Zealand, competing at the Piha Pro event in March.

The 47-year-old from the US is regarded as the greatest surfer of all time and holds the record for being both the youngest and oldest World Champion in the men's ranks.

He won his first world title in 1992 at the age of 20 and his last was in 2011.

The Piha Pro, which takes place between March 16-22, will be the first time Slater has competed in New Zealand since 1993.

The Piha Pro is one stop on the newly-announced WSL Challenger Series which will see more than 100 surfers chasing qualifying for the elite Championship Tour in 2021.

"I'm excited to be surfing again in an event in New Zealand and seeing all my fans there. I love the country and all it has to offer... incredible surf, golf and so much more," Slater said.

"I'm also looking forward to starting my 2020 WSL season by competing at a Challenger Series event."

Event director Chris Simpson was pleased to see Slater will compete in New Zealand for the first time in 27 years. 

"This is a real coup for the Corona Piha Pro; to have the greatest of all time in our first year goes to show how well-regarded Piha is as a surf destination," said Simpson. 

"It gives us a real stamp of credibility and is going to create hype around the sporting community in New Zealand."