Breathe easy; Kelly Slater will be at Snapper Rocks this year
At the start of every year we all pretend like we’re unsure whether Kelly Slater will show up to Snapper Rocks for the first event of the World Tour calendar, the Quiksilver Pro. Having just turned 43, Kelly’s the oldest gent on tour (by like six years) and well past the usual retirement age for professional surfers […]
At the start of every year we all pretend like we’re unsure whether Kelly Slater will show up to Snapper Rocks for the first event of the World Tour calendar, the Quiksilver Pro. Having just turned 43, Kelly’s the oldest gent on tour (by like six years) and well past the usual retirement age for professional surfers – a fact that only further highlights the man’s magnificence. And so every year for some time now, we’ve found ourselves speculating come January about whether Kelly will be jumping off behind the rock in a jersey. Unsurprisingly, and thankfully, 2015 won’t be the year that there’s a gaping hole left in professional surfing. But, what is it that keeps dragging him back?
Interview by Craig Jarvis
Here’s a sight you’ll get to enjoy this year: Kelly opening up Snapper faces. Photo: Bosko
Stab: So, you’re gonna be at Snapper. What’s in your Quik Pro coffin?
KS: I’m actually trying a number of things out, but I honestly have no idea which direction I’ll go if I do alter the course right now. It’s confusing as well as exciting to completely change, but there’s always that idea that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That always comes into play at a time like this.
You had an injury towards the end of 2014. How have you been pre-gaming for Snapper? I’ve been doing nothing but surfing at this point. I’m still nursing this foot injury, that has me baffled, and I actually hurt some ribs the other day but I’m not sure how badly yet. I can surf, but I’m definitely walking injured at the moment.
What sort of mental training and ideology have you been working on for the new season? There are a lot of things brewing in my life right now on a personal level, so I’m probably gonna put a lot of focus on clearing those things up first, and take from it what it teaches me. That’s usually a good place to start.
What sort of diet and nutrition program have you been working on? Just keeping it simple, really. I eat pretty sensibly most of the time, but I’m thinking in the weeks leading up I’m gonna tune in a bit to what the body is telling me and adjust. I’ve probably had a bit more sugar than normal with some desserts recently, and I’ve been kinda tired. Time to get that rolling also. The weeks before Snapper generally help that subconsciously anyway, and gets me starting to focus on my body.
There’s a subtext on tour that the older guys need to stay on for as long as possible to keep power surfing equally in the mix. How do you feel about that sentiment? Sport changes. The direction moves. There are great young surfers doing amazing things who also understand the rail game. I’m not too worried about that. But it’s time to see if the older guys can muster the excitement to push their levels, and honestly stay on par with the progression. Or maybe they just don’t have the passion, time and desire to do that anymore, and have a whole host of other things in life probably more important and fulfilling long-term to take that place. As your passions change, so does the importance of things you once thought were the meaning of your existence, and others you never imagined would take over your direction.
What is the one thing that still bums you out about pro surfing, after all these years? It’s a hard act to balance the grass roots core of surfing and competition. I’m not convinced it can be done. So I’ve begun to view them as completely separate entities, in order to enjoy them for what they are. Contests give you goals and focus and help you package your ideas onto a stage for a short time, and test your skills versus the other guys. Free surfing gives you freedom to be yourself and listen only to yourself, make your own decisions and enjoy the result of your thought process in a physical form.
What is the one thing that gets you back on the tour every year? Do you think it’s now an addiction, a process in your life that simply makes you feel good? Well, it doesn’t always make me feel good, but yes, there probably is a default pattern of comfort there in knowing a year’s worth of goals. But when it gets stale for you, you have to reassess why you’re doing it, and try and find a new enjoyment or purpose. I’m definitely in one of those areas this year, to start.
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