Stab Magazine | Visiting pros: Kelly Slater weighs in

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Visiting pros: Kelly Slater weighs in

Words by Craig Jarvis How do you feel when a surf contest lands at your beach? Don’t matter if it’s groms, gals, qualifiers or the big dogs, the host community is gonna be polarised: Great viewing, a lot of buzz, but less waves for locals thanks to overzealous competitors trying their hardest to get in […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Words by Craig Jarvis

How do you feel when a surf contest lands at your beach? Don’t matter if it’s groms, gals, qualifiers or the big dogs, the host community is gonna be polarised: Great viewing, a lot of buzz, but less waves for locals thanks to overzealous competitors trying their hardest to get in rhythm (totally understandable). Sometimes it gets a bit much. Remember like, yesterday, when there was a crème event in J-Bay? It was literal fucking torture at times. On some perfect days, there’d be a full gamut of pros and entourages in the water, with a bunch of locals in the mix as well. Contest organisers would call everyone in prior to first siren, and two or three guys’d paddle out. Imagine at this point, just before the siren, a set of eight unridden waves, six feet and every single percent of perfection, barrelling repeatedly down the point in front of locals and spectators. And all those watching would die an angry little death of frustration inside.

Talking of frustration, the waves might have been the square root of J-Bay perfection in Portugal recently, but similar levels of aggravation saw local bodyboarder ‘Barrele’ have a disagreement with our current world champ, a situation that thankfully righted itself with minor drama. But it does beg the question; how does a reigning world champ get to catch a few waves and loosen up, which is pretty much a right that he’s earned, in a bid to regain a title that’s kinda almost mathematically still in reach? There’s plenty of opinion about cordoning off areas around a contest site, but it’s not a simple thing to do.

We decided to go straight to pro surfing’s spiritual leader, Kelly Slater, and dial in a few thoughts on the topic. Kelly, who wasn’t in the water when the Joel/Barrele incident went down, was articulate as ever.

Stab: Are locals justified in getting shirty when the ASP arrives in town and takes over a break? 
Kelly Slater: Not sure. I understand both sides. But the waves were small (in Portugal) and the tour guys only have a day or two warm-up here, and it’s crowded as shit. It’s really frustrating and hard to get prepared and know the lineup in that amount of time, let alone with all the other pros and then 30+ other surfers and bodyboarders. If the waves were going off I could understand the crowds but it has been pretty bad. There’s nothing wrong with giving room for a couple of small days to the tour guys.

Any possible solutions? Greg Emslie (14 years tour experience) said to me that maybe the local authorities must declare specific areas out of bounds to locals for the duration of an event to let the CT surfers practice, as an event brings so much tourism, money etc to a town. Is business more important than local activities and are waves a sellable commodity in nature? A permit that could cover a few hours per day during events isn’t a bad idea from our point of view but I’m sure that wouldn’t work well everywhere for everyone. Plus, when you clear the water for just your guys it’s super hard to get waves off those guys and it’s equally frustrating. It would have to be four to six hours to make enough room for just us to work it out.

Apparently Parko does catch a lot of waves. Yes. He does.

Fighting is so last century. Do you think this is a surfer/bodyboarder thing, or just a local thing? Just a local thing, I’d imagine. I didn’t see the incident or the context in which it happened. That could change the whole perspective. The video I saw seemed like the guy was trying to make a statement somehow.

What would you do if an aggressive local bodyboarder gave you a slap? I’d return the favour unless I was completely and clearly in the wrong. But even then I probably would cause I’d be in the mood, I think. That said; this incident with Joel and the bodyboarder isn’t some big international issue. Two guys got in a hassle. They sorted it out. Not a big deal.

No, it’s not really a big deal, is it?

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