Stab Magazine | How to lose and keep it cool, with Kelly Slater

How to lose and keep it cool, with Kelly Slater

Kelly Slater in a jersey is a wonderful thing. Kelly Slater in a headset is a close second. Throw a mic on this man and it’s like a slot machine spitting quotes instead of coins. Despite losing both his heats at Keramas today, the first to Josh Kerr and the second to Clifton-James Hobgood, Kelly […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Kelly Slater in a jersey is a wonderful thing. Kelly Slater in a headset is a close second. Throw a mic on this man and it’s like a slot machine spitting quotes instead of coins. Despite losing both his heats at Keramas today, the first to Josh Kerr and the second to Clifton-James Hobgood, Kelly was more than happy to dial in with the commentary booth in the afternoon’s golden embers, to light up on such topics as his heat loss, his thoughts on the judging in Joel and John John’s heat, and his picks to win this whole damn party. Plus, more.

On missing out on tomorrow: Oh, I can’t even tell you. And y’know, it’s gonna be bigger and probably really good barrels. So yeah, it’s painful.

On conditions in his heat with CJ: Right when our heat started I just got caught up in that whole debacle before, I mean, obviously the waves were pumping, there’s two heats before mine, the waves are unbelievable, and then there’s a big debate happening with everyone about the scoring in that heat before ours, and we went out there just thinking it was gonna be standup barrels. And we were totally thrown-off, ’cause the wind came light onshore. And CJ adjusted right away, I think he was just on top of it and he made the correction. And he had to look for a little bit of a different wave. I was looking for big sets and they were pushing wide, and he was getting those ones that kinda taper. Y’know, his backside surfing’s been pretty on-point all week.

On his heat with CJ Hobgood: I congratulated him and he goes, “Man, you’ve beaten me so many times.” And I was like, “Damn it, I really wanted to beat you this time.” We had a little bit of a slow start, we were actually even talking about maybe a restart six or seven minutes in. And then I think he got the first wave, kinda got the jump, and he ended up with a 9 on his first real good one. And I couldn’t quite put one together. And I was looking for turns, then they’d start to barrel, so I’d pull into the barrel and, I dunno, I feel like I got a little lost. I don’t feel like I really performed that well all week, to be honest. I had an alright heat this morning, but I never really got in my groove out here.

On the judging: I think you know where I’m going with this one straight away. The John John and Parko heat, I think they messed that heat up early on, unfortunately. I thought where it kinda got a little funny for the range and the scoring was when they threw Parko a 9.2, and then John John got a 9.7. If you asked them I think they’d both agree those scores were a bit high. But, (the judges) had to because John John’s wave was better than the 9.2 that Parko got. Then they had nowhere to go, so Parko got a 10, and then he got his 10 at the end that was so much better than every wave in the heat. Of course he was gonna get two 10s there. It was great surfing, however you look at it the heat was great and I think the result was right. But I think the judging ended up putting itself in a funny place for a minute there, just based on one of those early scores. But I think all the results have been correct. I think it’s more difficult online than seeing it in person. You know when you watch in person you can tell, ok, is that a set? Does it have the right taper to it? Does it have the right shape on the face? All those sort of things. And some things can look better or worse online. ‘Cause I’ll watch the heats back later on and see what I think about my own opinion on what I saw live. And it definitely is a bit different live.

(Continued below)

It wasn't the Kelly we're used to in every heat, but there was certainly magic. Oakley/Hennings

It wasn’t the Kelly we’re used to in every heat, but there was certainly magic. Oakley/Hennings

On Nat Young: It’s pretty uncanny the way he draws a line. It’s kinda between a carve and a hit, he’s kinda hitting the face, he jams it so hard, he sticks that rail in and he gets such good traction coming off the top. And y’know, if you watch the way his body moves, his upper body doesn’t really twist too much. He just stays right above his board, and then he’s got all that power right in his face and in his core to just stomp on the tail through the turn, and it’s a real different sort of turn to most guys, but he’s got it so wired. Just the way he pivots at the last second, he can kinda throw it more vertical if he needs to. And his body’s right there to technically stab the wave. I know Ross used that term a lot, stabbing it, and that’s kind of a perfect term for the carve that Nat throws.

On who’ll win: Oh, gosh. I don’t know. I know Taj is probably gonna get real hungry. I asked him who he wanted between John John and Parko, and he said “Oh, I don’t really care.” And I said, “Oh, c’mon, you gotta have a little opinion one way or the other.” He goes: “I’d like to beat Parko.” Who else? It’s hard to pick. I think the top side of the draw looks pretty crazy. Y’know, if it turns into barrels you’ve got Josh and Parko who are such great barrel riders. Obviously Michel really stood out today with the barrels he had. I’d be hard-pressed to pick one off the top of my head. I think when all’s said and done, I’m probably gonna go, yeah, that’s the guy who should’ve won. But right now, it’s hard to pick. Josh really seemed in sync today, obviously Parko was in sync, Michel was in sync, so you’ve gotta be looking at those guys.

On Freddy P and Mick’s heat? I just told Freddy to really look for those ones… you’ll know the ones you see, just be patient, you only need two of them, and I said the ones with the right speed, they’ll come to you, you don’t have to force it or overdo anything. You’ve just gotta set your turns right. And that’s kinda what Nat did in his heat, he just waited and then stomped the turns when the sections came. I know Freddy was really upset at the end of that heat, but I will say he did have an opportunity he didn’t take, when Mick got his score and he was paddling back out, he was about halfway back out, and there was a really good wave that came, and Freddy went on the defence instead of the offence. And had he known that Mick’d get that score, I think Freddy would’ve ended up beating him in the heat ’cause he would’ve caught this other wave that he passed up. So, unfortunate for him.

On World Tour Ratings: Yeah, Mick would’ve overtaken me ’cause we were only a few hundred points apart. He definitely passed me up there. You always wanna be within range there. Obviously if Mick wins this it makes my job a little tougher to catch back up, but we’ll see how we go. I will say Mick looked pretty out of sorts to me so far, and that could be scary ’cause he might just fall right into the swing of things come tomorrow. Sometimes the guys who peak early can’t keep it together, but we’ll see. A couple of guys have been really on this week.

On Keramas as a tour stop: It’s a really great performance wave. It is tricky. Sitting on the beach you just go, god, every wave’s perfect, but there’s certain lines, if you take the wrong angle off the bottom you don’t set the whole wave up right. You’ve really gotta set that from the second you stand up. You’ve gotta make a decision, are you gonna go off the bottom, do more horizontal turns, are you gonna pull into the barrel, how do you come outta the barrel – I feel like I finally learned in my heat this morning when I come out of the barrel to come straight down and bottom turn hard straight-up, instead of just getting that horizontal cutback. That came a little too late for me.

Shaded, today. ASP/Kirstin

Shaded, today. ASP/Kirstin


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