DRUG-testing for international professional surfers would not affect Kelly Slater, he said at the 2012 Quiksilver Pro Snapper Rocks launch on Thursday.

"I've always thought it would be fair enough in a professional sport to do drug testing," the 11-time world champion said.

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"But surfing is about a lot of decision making, not just based on speed or strength.

"I don't know if someone can take a drug that's going to make them win a heat."

He spoke of an example in which a professional snowboarder's win was taken from him after he tested positive for cannabis use.

The defending Quiksilver Pro champion questioned whether cannabis could improve performance, but said drug testing would not make surfing "too mainstream" when its competitive side was already so.

He joined women's world champion and fellow defending event champion Carissa Moore, four time local world champion Stephanie Gilmore, world number two Sally Fitzgibbons and former event champion Taj Burrow.

And an empty chair where wildcard entrant Dane Reynolds was to sit.

Soul surfer Reynolds arrived toward the end of opening comments from the group.

When asked what he had been doing he replied quite dead-pan: surfing.

"I'm excited, because I actually haven't been here in two years and it's my first contest since 2001.

"I like this wave a lot, and actually all the waves around here are really good for performance surfing."

Quite a few questions about age were directed to Slater, who had recently celebrated his 40th birthday.

"I was with a bunch of older friends (on my birthday) who were saying 'I wish I was 40'.

"The question (on retiring) comes up each year and each year I don't know.

"Part of me wants to do other stuff, but sometimes the tour is fun; I'm just not too stressed about it.

"There will always be younger guys setting a new direction and there'll always be change and advancement.

"Which I think is great, but no-one would deny how good the new group coming through is.

"The tour is always in flux: you're not going to get a new crop of old dudes."

The Quiksilver Pro attracted about 52,000 people around and within its fortress-like compound during 2011.

The Land Rover presented event will be staged from February 25 to March 7.

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