Stab Magazine | By The Numbers: Kai Otton

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By The Numbers: Kai Otton

The percentage of men in the top 34 who hoist a first place trophy in their careers is a minority. But on occasion, someone deserving has their moment. Kai Otton, in his seventh year competing at the highest level of professional surfing, just won his first world tour event, the Rip Curl Pro, Portugal. His […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

The percentage of men in the top 34 who hoist a first place trophy in their careers is a minority. But on occasion, someone deserving has their moment. Kai Otton, in his seventh year competing at the highest level of professional surfing, just won his first world tour event, the Rip Curl Pro, Portugal. His emotions boiled over and his celebrations were not composed, just as they shouldn’t be, and it was very honest, and pleasing to watch. While Mr Otton still basks in the afterglow of victory, and Stab believed there’d be no better time to collect some of the numbers floating in his world…

Story by Craig Jarvis

27 – The amount of hours Kai’s friends at home celebrated. “My mates back home are my biggest fans. They stayed up on Thursday night to watch the event online, and then they didn’t go to work on Friday. In the morning they just put on the replays and then started drinking again at lunch on Friday. They pulled the pin at about 3am on Saturday morning. So yeah, they had a good time on my behalf.”

30 – The approximate amount of friends who were cheering for Kai via webcast. “When we were younger it was all so different trying to watch your heroes surfing at surf events. There was surfing on TV, but it’s so different now with the webcast. At home, in pre-internet days, we were so far-removed from pro surfing. I was talking to Taylor Knox about how we used to hear of our heroes and then see them in the mags and stuff, and now we’re surfing against them and everyone’s watching online.”

13 – Kai’s age when he started surfing. “I had a bit of a later start to the whole thing compared to some of the other guys. I was on a bodyboard for a few years before I got going on the surfboard.”

10 – The amount of whisky shots Kai got down his throat after the win. “I drank one beer on the beach, and then got on the whisky. I’m not a massive beer fan, but love a whisky. I reckon I got 10 shots down, as well as some red wine and a few tequila shots. It was a big night. Winning a contest was overwhelming for me and I didn’t quite know how to feel. It was a weird feeling. Obviously it was all good and I was stoked, but not having won a WCT event, I didn’t have much practice on the emotions, y’know?”

3 – Massive nights had or to be had. “We had a huge night on Tuesday down at Manly Wharf and there were a lot of people down there celebrating with me. I felt really, really shit on Wednesday. Then I’m going down the south coast for another massive party. The plan is to stop after that and get ready for Hawaii. At the rate I’m going I’m gonna be the most unfit I’ve been going into Hawaii, the most serious and dangerous waves of the year. Working a bit backwards at the moment aren’t I?”

2 – The number of times Kai cried as a result of the win. “I shed a few tears on the beach when I won the event. I dedicated the win to my grandpa, Keith. He passed away in 2006, the year I qualified for the tour. I couldn’t go to his funeral as I was competing on the QS in Europe at the time. He was close to me and it brings up a lot of emotion in me. I cried again, just the other day, in another interview. It’s a difficult subject, y’know…”

15 – The amount of minutes you’re always late for perfection in France. “The sandbars get so good, but you’re always chasing them. If you get to a spot and it looks like it might get good later, then your timing is perfect and you can hit it. If you get there and it’s firing, you’re 15 minutes too late already. By the time you get your gear and get out there it’s already getting worse and it’s soon going to be shit. It tends to be that you’re always 15 minutes too late.”

7 – The number of years Kai was on the pro tour without a WCT victory. “It hasn’t been bad on the tour, I just wanted that one win and I’m pretty glad it came when it did. I’ve always enjoyed the European leg. Portugal’s great, and France has always been my favourite stop on the tour. Actually, come to think about it, I really hate the fact that J–Bay isn’t on the tour anymore. I probably love that place more than France. The waves, the smell of the joint, the food and the cafes, that’s probably my favourite place in the world.”

2 – The number of kids Kai and his girlfriend Sarah are looking at having. “I found out about our kid just after Tahiti, which was pretty good timing because I might have been worried and not done as well in Tahiti. Now that we know that the kid is coming, I’m just so stoked and so relaxed. Nothing else really matters, y’know? I totally reckon it’s why I did well in Portugal. It totally changes your perspective. As for number of kids, I think we’re going to get the first one going, and then we’ll see from there. Three’s a good number but I think two is more realistic.”

3 – The number of events Kai is going to be doing in Hawaii. “The Triple Crown is the most prestigious series title in the world. I remember when I was younger and Mike Rommelse won the Triple Crown. He was such a hero for what he did in Hawaii and even though we became good friends, I always looked up to him for that Hawaiian performance and result. Reef are my main sponsor and they are holding the event in Haleiwa and then I’m surfing in Pipe, so it’d be silly for me to not compete in all three of the events.”

1 – The number of Australians who are going to win a World Championship Tour title this year. “Yeah, Mick’s got this one. You can definitely quote me on that.”


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