The 40-year-old American, the reigning 11-times ASP world champion and five-times Hurley Pro winner, easily moved past Tiago Peres and Taylor Knox to earn a direct route to round three.
“I’ve got to be honest, I’m not surprised it was a slow one because I had Taylor Knox in my heat,” Slater said. “He’s had the most restarts ever at Trestles before for some reason.
“I wanted to win that first one because I haven’t been surfing that much lately. I surfed all day yesterday and I’m kind of tired today. The last few weeks I haven’t surfed a whole lot and I’m trying to figure out new boards.”
Twice world champion and current world number one Mick Fanning was also in good form, the 31-year-old Australian, overcame Fredrick Patacchia and Conner Coffin to qualify.
“The race is really tight,” Fanning, who won this event in 2009, said. “With everyone counting a few good results and in a really good rhythm at the moment, Joel (Parkinson), Kelly (Slater), John John (Florence), Taj (Burrow), you’ve got to just keep trying and just keep plugging away.”
Hurley Pro round one:
Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 14.30, Jadson Andre (BRA) 11.10, Brett Simpson (USA) 7.94
Heat 2: Taj Burrow (AUS) 16.00, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 12.57, Alejo Muniz (BRA) 7.37
Heat 3: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.66, Tiago Pires (PRT) 10.90, Taylor Knox (USA) 8.10
Heat 4: Dusty Payne (USA) 12.47, Kai Otton (AUS) 12.00, John John Florence (HAW) 9.00
Heat 5: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.16, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 12.87, Evan Geiselman (USA) 12.50
Heat 6: Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.60, Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 14.60, Conner Coffin (USA) 12.16
Heat 7: Yadin Nicol (AUS) 17.57, Owen Wright (AUS) 17.17, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 11.67
Heat 8: Josh Kerr (AUS) 13.20, Damien Hobgood (USA) 10.63, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 8.00
Heat 9: Michel Bourez (PYF) 16.20, Kolohe Andino (AUS) 13.30, Jeremy Flores (PYF) 12.70
Heat 10: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 16.50, Adam Melling (AUS) 13.57, Julian Wilson (AUS) 9.66
Heat 11: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.30, Travis Logie (ZAF) 15.87, Heitor Alves (BRA) 13.83
Heat 12: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 16.90, C.J. Hobgood (USA) 16.17, Kieren Perrow (AUS) 8.20