Outerknown Sponsors The World Surf League Fiji Pro
Somewhere, Kelly Slater is smiling.
Kelly Slater’s brand of surfing has been described as that of a Formula One racer; an elite, high-performance machine engineered for the most world-class of tracks. He’s at his best when the waves and competition are at their best. Such an assessment would explain his life-long love affair with the ribbons of reef at Cloudbreak and Restaurants. His proclivity for privacy makes Tavarua all the more alluring for the 11-time world champ.
Announced today, Slater’s venture in the rag trade, Outerknown, will now be the title sponsor of the WSL’s Fiji Pro. It all kind of makes sense, doesn’t it?
“I fell in love with the small island of Tavarua a long time ago and I go back a few times every year,” Kelly told the WSL. “It’s my favourite escape and may be home to the happiest people on earth.”
To digress for a moment, Fiji is not actually home to some of the happiest people on Earth. According to the 2015 World Happiness Report, Switzerland is home to the happiest people on Earth.
But that’s neither here nor there, Tavarua is a gem of an island and everyone from the resort’s local workers to the world tour surfers are stoked to see one of the marquee events finally garner a title sponsor. Originally sponsored by Quiksilver, when the company’s stock price bottomed out so did their desire to throw money at Fiji. After a brief hiatus, the contest returned as the Volcom Fiji Pro. In 2012, Cloudbreak exploded with a historic run of swell, and while the WSL called the contest off, the free-surfers took over—all beamed live around the world on the webcast. Needless to say, the CT surfers caught some heat for not partaking. Over the last few years, the WSL has had to foot the bill for the contest without a title sponsor.
Slater’s won the Fiji Pro four times over the course of his career, making it one of his most winningest locations. 2017 was supposed to be his last lap around the world and in the offseason, he made a point of letting fans know he was going to get himself back in shape to contend for a title. He started strong with a fifth on the Gold Coast, but two subsequent 13th-place finishes haven’t helped his cause. He’s currently ranked 13th on the CT, more than 13,000 points away from leader John John Florence. Slater’s always been a numbers guy and unlucky 13s have to be dancing around his psyche. But Fiji has always been a place for him to turn things around, and now with the Outerknown banner flying on the judges’ tower, he may be more emboldened to perform. If he’s going to make one last dash at world title number 12, his improbable run is going to have to start on that little heart shaped island in the South Pacific.