Stab Magazine | Notes From The Teahupoo Channel: Kelly Slater's 9.83 And Win Over Nat Young
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Notes From The Teahupoo Channel: Kelly Slater’s 9.83 And Win Over Nat Young

“I didn’t think I was gonna make it!” says the King. 

news // Aug 23, 2016
Words by Jack Howard
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Kelly Slater shows up less than a half hour before his heat. Raimana and girlfriend Kalani are with him on the boat. He’s dressed in a black windbreaker, matching boardshorts and spends a minute Facetiming with someone back home.

“Love you too,” he says before throwing double shakas into the camera of his phone.

Kelly pulls on a black, Volcom spring suit and slips into the water. At the end of the current heat, there’s a flurry of sets on the west bowl. Kelly’s interest is piqued.

“The conditions are perfect, the wind couldn’t be better,” he tells his caddy Belly.

He’s up against Nat Young, they chat and joke lightly, but Kelly’s eyes never leave the lineup. He’s a shark, and there’s blood in the water.

The horn sounds and they sit… and sit.

“After seven minutes I started thinking restart,” Kelly admitted after the heat.

And after 15 minutes the judges do reset the heat. It doesn’t take Nat long to dip into a medium-sized runner that gets things underway. Kelly sits out the back and waits; then he answers with a technically sound 7.67.

 

Natty

Taking the King out in Tahiti ain’t for the faint of heart.

 

“I didn’t think I was going to make it,” says Slater, paddling past the small cadre of caddies and photographers.

Nat stays busy and threads his way through a couple more tubes for a 5.33 and then a 6.27. For a moment he’s leading the heat. Then Kelly drops the hammer.

The biggest wave of the day comes through; Kelly and Nat paddle rail-to-rail, but Kelly’s holding priority. He scratches in deep and goes. He finds his way to the bottom without laying a finger on his rail. Then, sets his line, holds on and gets spit into the channel. The judges toss him a near-perfect 9.83.

“I didn’t think I was going to make it,” he said once more while paddling back out.

I’m not sure if it’s sarcastic or serious, but either way, his performance is ridiculous. Time ticks down and Kelly comes away with the highest scoring heat of the day.

“I was sliding down the face, then it tried to bronco me off,” grins Kelly, recounting the winning ride.

After a quick interview with the webcast team, he’s back on his boat where Raimana and Kalani are waiting. And off they go, back to their secret Tahitian lair to continue their plot of global domination.

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