Unlocked: A No Longer Innocent, Quey-Leading 20-YO Drops The First SEOTY Entry Of 2024
“I don’t like to hold back,” says Levi Slawson.
You might remember Levi Slawson from Stab Innocents shot in 2019, where we enlisted Craig Anderson to chaperone six of the world’s best U16 year-olds on a Mentawai(ish) boat trip.
“It’s funny, the World Juniors in 2022 was the first time I had seen Jarvis in person since then,” Levi told Stab. “All of a sudden he was just way better at surfing and a bit taller and chunky. We were laughing about that trip because he was such a little shit and now he’s absolutely insane.”
As it panned out, Jarvis ended up winning the event and Levi finished runner-up. We were pretty chuffed too, just quietly, having dubbed both of them as future problems three years beforehand. Fellow Stab Innocent Al Cleland Jr took his turn winning an ISA World Games in 2023, boosting straight from Reunion Island while filming Repeater to El Salvador, shoring up his spot in the Paris Olympics.
Not to mention Jai Glindeman, just in general.
Yeah, we’ve got our fingers on the pulse… but I digress.
Levi is currently leading the US regional QS after winning two events this season in Carolina and Morro Bay. The Carolina win was “a monumental feat,” says Levi, not only because it was his first win on the Q, but because he beat Kolohe Andino in the final, after being comboed by 17 points in the opening five minutes. “I just tried to stay calm and then I was able to find two 9’s in quick succession,” he explains.
Speaking of which, I wondered if the success and camaraderie of 2%ers on the Challenger Series this year — with Cole Houshand, Crosby Colapinto, Eli Hanneman and Kade Matson all making the CT — rubbed off on Levi, just 35 miles south in Encinitas.
“I’ve competed against that same group of guys that qualified my whole life, so it definitely gave me a lot of positive takeaways and a bit of a roadmap,” says Levi. “Like, ‘if they can do it, I can do it’ sort of thing. Those guys obviously have a really strong presence in the surf world and even though people might not love how they portray themselves, I’ve known them since we were all tiny little kids and am actually really good friends with a bunch of them. There’s a lot of talent coming out of California right now, and everybody’s super hungry. There could be a lot of us guys on the tour soon.”
‘Hard Reset’ was supported by Salty Crew and shot in Indonesia and J-Bay, shortly after Levi lost his spot on the CS — the title is a straightforward reflection of how he viewed that break in between competing.
“Neither Taro (Watanabe) nor I requalified, so I fired up a trip to Indo with Ivan Tanjung to film and direct us. It was perfect because Taro was teaching me how to do turns and I was teaching him how to do airs,” laughs Levi. “A week after arriving home, Taro called and said he was heading to J-Bay”. (The results of which feature in the back half of this clip and in ‘Back and Forth’ – Taro’s film he released last year, shot and edited by Quinn Matthews).
One more decent result in the remaining two QS’s at Pismo and Barbados should be enough to secure Levi a start at Snapper this season on the CS, where he has the lofty ambitions of winning an event and finishing in the top 10. “I think it’s important to aim high,” he explains.
With the sage tutelage of Matt Myers, Rusty Philippi and Taylor Clark in his corner, and a replenishing supply of tuned-up Sharp Eyes underfoot, I rather like his chances.
Ed note: we’re still in the process of figuring out the prize for this year’s Stab Edit of the Year (ideally another Bitcoin, but *shakes coin purse* it’s a little pricey at the moment!). We’ll let you know when we know.
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