This is not just another Kelly Slater interview
Story by Craig Jarvis Everybody loves seeing Kelly Slater win. And just like he did at the Billabong Pipe Masters last month, Mr Slater took the biggest cheque at the Volcom Pipeline Pro this week. He is the unstoppable machine. He scored a 10, and a 9.83, and a 9.77. Pipeline was pumping. Big, thumping tubes. It […]
Story by Craig Jarvis
Everybody loves seeing Kelly Slater win. And just like he did at the Billabong Pipe Masters last month, Mr Slater took the biggest cheque at the Volcom Pipeline Pro this week. He is the unstoppable machine. He scored a 10, and a 9.83, and a 9.77. Pipeline was pumping. Big, thumping tubes. It was totally complicated nu-swell conditions. No worries for the champ.
This makes it Kelly’s 66th ASP tour victory, his 8th win at Pipe, a great start to his 24th season on the pro tour and just before his 42nd birthday next Tuesday.
Yes, you probably want to read that whole paragraph again. I did.
So we lit up his phone, and busted him with some fun questions, some slightly more serious shit, as well as a difficult question about performance enhancing drugs. As per usual, Mr Slater replied with various levels of aplomb…
Stab: Do you ever get tired of winning? Seriously, has the thrill of victory dissipated over the years or do you still get that total rush of blood to the head when standing on the podium?
Kelly: (laughs) To be honest I still do get that rush you’re talking about, f’sure, but I can also think of a few things that aren’t nearly as good as the first time.
You and Pipe go back a long way. I remember a video from when you were still very small, dropping into a thick double up and everyone who saw it went ‘oh, dude charges as well.’ Do you remember that wave? I do. Very well. Every millisecond of it. It was my first year in the contest. That was sort of a life-changing wave for me. That was one you have etched in your brain that you didn’t realise was so gnarly until it was over. I think that after that wave nothing else scared me that bad. Larry Haynes was right on the shoulder filming it swimming.
Backdoor is a favourite tune. Photo: Brian Bielmann
Pipe has also been the home to bleak defeats. One in particular comes to mind: You getting held off a deal-breaking wave by Parko. What light does that memory flick? Frustration. Pure frustration. I really wished we had been in a two-man surf-off at the end of that contest, but it all happened the way it was supposed to, I believe.
Fear is a crazy thing. Do any kind of waves whatsoever at Pipe still make you a little bit scared? Certain situations and certain waves, f’sure. Absolutely. Pipe as a whole doesn’t scare me so much, but you can’t let your guard slip, or you’ll get yourself in a dangerous spot out there before you realise it. There were waves out there today that I couldn’t figure out how to catch.
Over the years at Pipe, who has been the best Hawaiian surfer out there? There have been lots of guys who have totally dominated. Sunny has always been dominant at Backdoor. Back in the day, Dane Kealoha was incredible at Backdoor. He surfed twin-fins in like, solid eight to 10 foot waves! Derek Ho at Pipe was, and still is, incredible, as well as Mike Ho. He’s always been great both right and left out there. I’d probably choose JBG (Johnny-Boy Gomes) for overall great barrel riding at Pipe and Backdoor. Obviously nowadays JJF (John John Florence) and JOB (Jamie O’Brien) are the guys owning it on a daily basis. So many initials…
You finished the year with a win at Pipe and now you’ve started the year with a win at Pipe. Which bodes well for a 2014 title. What are your feelings on the year ahead? Well, Pipe weighs in with zero impact towards the title but it is nice to start and finish that way. It definitely helped me feel back in the swing of things.
The line is always right. Photo: Brian Bielmann
Who are going to be the other four in the top five this year? Jordy could really come out swinging this year. He hasn’t come close to peaking yet or having a great year. His Achilles Heel is barrel waves on tour. So Pipe, Teahupoo and maybe France. He should put all his brainpower and practice into that. He needs no help with manoeuvres and carving. In fact he’s probably the most complete guy over those couple of categories. It’d be nice to see him right in the mix. I’m sure JJF and Medina are gonna be swinging for the fences from heat number one as well, and then Parko and Fanning for sure. Everyone’s hungry. It’s going to be a big year.
For most surfers, an ideal day of surfing is three foot Lowers-style waves, light offshore with no crowd. Describe Kelly Slater’s best Pipe freesurfing conditions. That would be December 21, last year. It was eight to 12 feet, west swell, with the occasional huge scary rights. That’s how I like it, pretty much. We all just wish the crowd was a bit mellower but that’s never going to happen again, is it?
Probably not. So, last year at the Quiksilver Pro a journalist made a vague allegation that you might be using performance-enhancing drugs. You replied, rather testily, that if he paid for the test you would do them again and again. Now that you’re a year older and still winning everything, do you think these rumours might be rekindled like I’ve just done right now? (laughs). I overreacted at the time, and that was silly of me. My point was that I have nothing to hide, and I thought it was a weird and an uncalled-for cheap shot at the time. It’s all good though, and I’m happy to take any test for anything whatsoever at any time. I’m really proud of my choices, but thanks a lot for bringing up a sore spot Jarvi.
Yes, sorry about that. Did you feel at any stage at the Volcom Pipe Pro that anyone was going to beat you? You looked so relaxed. I felt really good. I thought Wardo and Jamie were going be right in the mix and there are lots of super dangerous guys. Mason seemed most on a mission to me. I had a good backup plan if I lost though, because Haleiwa was going off, so I felt really calm, like there was no possible bad result.
So you won the event, and hot-footed it straight to the Pebble Beach Pro Am celebrity golf tournament. (Kelly will be hitting that little ball around with the likes of Kid Rock, Kurt Russell, Andy Garcia and Kenny G). You might need to think about slowing down a bit, but good luck there anyway. Thanks. I’m here in Pebble Beach alright. It’s raining, but it’s going to be fun.
Swooping beneath the drone, captured from a Red Cam by Thomas Carey.
“I’m A West Oz Bogan For Sure, I Just Don’t Have The Mullet”
The first SEOTY entry of 2023 is ‘Into Dust’ ft. Jacob Willcox.
Warren Smith on New Welcome Rivers Range and Buying Jaguars on Facebook Marketplace
Now available in the Antipodes...
Wavegarden Spills How The Sausage Is Made
BTS of their global air wave rollout ft. Yago Dora, Dion Agius, Reef Heazlewood and…
Minds, Machines, And The Magic Of Hands
How modern shapers split their time between designing files and hand-finishing boards.
Are Hectic Lefts The Final Finless Frontier?
William Aliotti is on the right-foot-forward fringes.
Watch: Luke + Eddie
A mostly unknown, on-duty lifeguard won the most prestigious big-wave event in history. How Luke…
A Pipe Master, Ryan Burch, And Some Pickle Forks On The Eastern Seaboard
This one ticks a lot of boxes
Brazil Has A Talent Problem
And three other things we learned from the Rip Curl Pro Portugal.
Mick Fanning On A Unicorn, Bags Of Dicks, And A Shocking Script Read By Surfing’s Biggest Stars
Vaughan Blakey and Nick Pollet on their outrageous film, 'The Greatest Surf Movie In The…
Italo Ferreira Caught 63 Waves In An Hour
And other stats from our Stab in the Dark production.
Can A Freesurfer Go The Other Way? A Dakoda Walters Case Study
The 57-kilo Aussie has taken a Stab High approach to trad contest surfing.
Caity Simmers And João Chianca Fulfill Respective Prophecies Under Gaze Of Portuguese President
A very good day of competitive surfing.
“I Used To Only Surf Here With One Guy…His Name’s Henry, And He’s A Seal”
A contemplation on the frigid desolation of Iceland.
World #1 Carissa Moore Vanquished By Front Pad Toting Wildcard, Lucky Few Get Supertubed
‘Go hard or go home, innit’
Hungover Hold-Downs, Patent Feuds, And One-In-A-Million Malfunctions Involving 11x World Champs: The Story Of Surfing’s Inflatable Vests
These things changed the game.
Parker Coffin Tells Ex: ‘Thank You For Everything’
Freesurfing’s best communicator leaves a classy farewell to Roark.
Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.
Already a member? Sign In
Want to join? Sign Up