Josh Kerr has straw-coloured hair, a scar on his cheek and the world tour’s most consummate aerial swagger. He invents swirl-flavours (the Kerrupt!) and makes any lineup look like a skatepark. So, when Kelly Slater threw the most impressive full-roter ever seen in a jersey, during the final of the Rip Curl Pro, Bells Beach, we could think of no one better to break it down for us. But that ain’t all we talked about. Josh also says Kelly would’ve won the contest if it’d been in the US, that it should be the Winkipop Pro and that he’s ditched the headphones and pre-heat focus for 2012. Kid was ‘sorting some things out’ on the Gold Coast before heading back to Cali when he clicked green on Stab‘s call. Read on, we dare!
Kelly’s 10 in the final. Discuss. That thing… was… absolutely… messed up. And really, really well executed. It was definitely one of the bigger no-grab to-the-flat full-rotations I’ve ever seen. I think Wade Goodall is one of the only other guys who would try a big spin out to the flats like that. That one Kelly did… it’s an ankle-breaking manoeuvre. That’s all I think about when I see that – just broken ankles. When he’s combo’d is the only time he does those things, in those situations. I’ve never seen him do something like that freesurfing or on video or anything like that. He’s a proper, ridiculous sportsman, because he rises even above his own level when he’s in the heat of competition. It’s the biggest frontside full-rote ever done in competition, for sure. He hucked that thing and didn’t get one bit of cushion before he landed on the flats. He had a long way down.
He literally threw caution to the wind. If he was gonna do an air into that side/offshore wind, that was the only real option. The only way to get your board into that wind is by projecting out when throwing the rotation – that’s how you get your board flat against the wind. He knows that. He’s smart as hell. He knew exactly what he was doing and knew he had a chance. And I’ll tell you what – out there, it’s frigging close-to-impossible to do airs.
Who, in your eyes, won the final? You know what? Kelly obviously did the best manoeuvres in the final, by a mile. But, it’s one of those ones where it could’ve gone either way. Generally when it can go either way, it’ll go Kelly’s way. And that’s why it’s kinda weird that it didn’t. But you know, it can’t always go his way and that’s what happened. For Mick, I’m sure it helped that it was down at Bells and in Australia. I have a feeling if that final had been at Trestles, Kelly would’ve won. But, like I said, you can’t hate on the judges when it can go either way. I mean, I watched it live and… I wouldn’t say Mick didn’t win, that’s for sure.
If you were the grand architect of the 2013 WT, would Bells be on the schedule? I would’ve almost actually said no until probably this year. Just because the surfing we saw this year was ridiculous. But I don’t know if that’s the level of surfing or if the waves just happened to allow it more. I haven’t surfed Bells an abundance of times, but I mean, Winkipop was better during the whole contest. I wish it could be the Winkipop Pro. But, you can’t hate on history. And, it took me out of my element – I was riding a board that I would never normally ride in those kind of waves. You just need to ride a longer board. I guess it tests different elements of your surfing, it can show your weaknesses, it can show some strengths so, y’know, it’s just another wave I guess. But, what am I saying, if I was architect of course I wouldn’t leave it on! But, that it is there isn’t a bad thing. If I was designing my own tour, the whole thing would be in Indo.
You were on and off tour for five consecutive years. You have steam coming off you lately. Does this year feel different? No, not at all. Even though I did well last year, I swear I went into this year with zero confidence, just going, woo, I got super lucky last year but that can’t happen again this year! But I haven’t changed anything. I’ve just been going out and surfing. I’ve learnt to simplify my competitive regime, which is just going out, catching two waves and trying to rip on every wave I catch. It’s that simple. No headphones and focusing before heats. Just keeping loose, having fun and trying to show it in my surfing. – Elliot Struck