Stab Magazine | Yes we have no bananas
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Yes we have no bananas

A radical righthand bowl in the West Indies turn on its best day in 20 years. An unforgettable session starring Ozzie Wright, Benji Weatherly, Tim Curran and Kelly Slater.. It’s getting dark out and Kelly Slater is burning like a Molotow cocktail HE’S PACING AROUND THE HOUSE WEARING ONLY BOARDSHORTS. HE’S STILL WET AND YOU CAN […]

style // Feb 22, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 13 minutes

A radical righthand bowl in the West Indies turn on its best day in 20 years. An unforgettable session starring Ozzie Wright, Benji Weatherly, Tim Curran and Kelly Slater..

It’s getting dark out and Kelly Slater is burning like a Molotow cocktail HE’S PACING AROUND THE HOUSE WEARING ONLY BOARDSHORTS. HE’S STILL WET AND YOU CAN TELL EXACTLY WHERE HE’S BEEN IN THE HOUSE PROM HIS FOOTPRINTS THAT CRISSCROSS THROUGHOUT OUR AQUAMARINE-WITH-LAVENDER-TRIM TWO-BED, TWO-BATH MUSTY BEACH RENTAL COMPLETE WITH GIANT LOFT AREA AND STACK OF FIVE THOROUGHLY SLEPT-ON TWIN-SIZE MATTRESSES

He’s retelling the stories of the day with such enthusiasm he’s almost babbling. He’s talking about being cut off and getting spat out of barrels. He’s making waves with one hand and diagramming maneuvers with the other. His green eyes are so wide open, his forehead is half its normal size. Then, around 6:15 pm, he utters that quote. He says he maybe just had :he best surf of his life and tells everyone listening that if he could, he’d live that day over and over for the rest of his life.

think about that for a second: Kelly Slater’s best surf ever? Practically begging for Groundhog Day? This is a guy who’s had astronomically more good surf sessions than you multiplied by ill your friends, and he’s claiming it.

quickly glance around the room to see if anyone else picked up on that statement. Ozzie bright and Timmy Curran are half listening and half watching a video from today at the ;kitchen table with filmer Dave Emge; Benji Weatherley is engrossed in conversation with his girlfriend Mai; cinematographer Todd Heater and Dustin Humphrey continue breaking down equipment for storage; Uruguayan cameraman Alex Berger continues cooking his pasta; and our local security man Floyd is out of sight.
But I’m relieved when I notice that someone else heard it. I make eye contact with filmmaker Taylor Steele, who’s giving me a “Did you just hear that?” look – head slightly tilted to the left, eyebrows raised. I must have the same expression on my face because Taylor quickly and discreetly brings his hands up to waist level and with his left hand flat uses his right to scribble a note with an invisible

pen – the international symbol for “write that down.” Taylor, who’s been traveling with and fil

ming Slater since the early 1990s, has probably seen more of Kelly’s best surf sessions than anyone. And his appreciation of the statement prompts me to find my notebook and record the quote. After I write it down, I start paging through my notes from the day…

Ozzie has already surfed at first light and Benji is in the water. The surf is pumping. It’s two-to-four feet bigger than yesterday on the sets, and at six-to-eight feet, it’s showing an uncanny resemblance to Backdoor. A steep drop, a couple pumps, and then a four-to-eight-second barrel section. The channel is starting to close out and the takeoff zone, which is usually empty until lunch, already has 15 guys on it, mostly locals, all battling for waves. Surfers on the beach are screaming and whistling for their friends.

It’s serious surf today -Hawaiian-style conditions and, like yesterday, the onshores have yet to kick in. It’s still sheet glass three ho

urs after sun up, and Ozzie tells me it was straight offshore this morning. Ozzie Wright’s trip to this little rock in the West Indies was a nightmare. He flew from Sydney to Los Angeles, where he had a 12-hour layover, then he flew to Miami, Puerto Rico, and finally our cur

rent location, which, at the request (read “death threats”) of locals, will remain unnamed in this article. The trip threw Ozzie’s body clock into a tailspin and his first three days here were spent sleeping most of the afternoon and smoking cigarettes and playing guitar on the deck all night. But Oz is the perpetual good sport, complaining very little if at all. You get the impression that he feels lucky to have the job he does and refuses to take it for granted. There are plenty of friends back in Narrabeen who’d kill for what he has and he knows it.
Kelly wakes up arou

nd nine and he, Ozzie, and I drive down the street to watch Timmy surfing the left. He’s getting six-second barrels and coming out. After surfing this spot for a couple hours yesterday, I can’t believe he’s sitting so deep and coming out. I got clipped by the lip every wave. WCT guys are no joke. Timmy’s session out at [spot name omitted] yesterday was inspiring and he modestly accepted congratulations from everyone for the dozen or so backside barrels he slid into and out of.
Here’s what.l knew about Timmy before this trip: he’s probably the best air guy on the tour, he’s a Chriftian, he’s sponsored by Hurley. We’d met once or twice, but I’d always gotten the feeling he didn’t want to talk to me. After a few days of hanging out with him, I realise that he’s just quiet until he gets to know you.

At 10:00 am Kelly pressures Ozzie into paddling back out. The takeoff zone is so small out there. It’s like watching people surf Padang – 20 guys in the lineup, all sitting so close to one another they’re almost touching elbows. Plus you’ve got locals snapping on each other and, to top it off, Kelly’s out there.

The wave our house sits in plain view of is famous on the East Coast of the USA and throughout the Caribbean. The setup is similar to Sunset Beach – a heavy right with huge barrel potential and the possibility of swing-wide sets that send people scratching for the horizon, praying not to get caught inside. Near the kick-out point on the wave is a powerful rip tide that will tow you straight into a mess of a treacherous left that pounds on a waist-deep coral and volcanic-rock shelf. To lose your board and get caught in the rip is not an enticing proposition. Add to all this a pack of rambunctious locals – some of whom aren’t really prepared to surf this spot at eight-foot-plus (that’s Hawaiian, folks… we’re talking about 15-foot faces)- and you realise that this is a world-class wave with world-class pitfalls. By 11:00, it’s a couple feet bigger. The swell is serious. The surf is easily double-overhead plus and Kelly, Benji, and Ozzie are all having incredible sessions. I’m really impressed with Ozzie. Anyone who says he’s a gimmick or a product of marketing can fuck off (000000! Tough guy! – Ed). He’s schooling the locals on his fourth-ever session out at [name of spot omitted]. At 11:15, he gets two barrels on the same wave and a bus full of tourists driving by are screaming like they just won the lottery.

As the editor of a surf magazine in the US, I get more complaints than you’d ever believe (mostly from people in the surf industry) about running too many Ozzie Wright photos. I’ve heard him called everything from a “gimmick” to “fake.” People have told me he speeds his video parts up so that it’ll seem like he’s surfing faster. Advertisers have threatened to pull out if we ru

n another Ozzie photo. Watching him backside tube ride in such heavy conditions, I suddenly feel vindicated.
Benji follows Ozzie’s wave with a stand-up barrel. Thirty seconds later Slater catches the biggest wave of the day so far and stands in it with both hands raised over his head. [Spot name omitted] is huge – 10 feet Hawaiian, people are claiming. The rights are starting to connect with the left just north and it’s making the channel a boiling cauldron. At this point in the session, the locals (even the really good ones) are starting to pass on set waves. This is the size that typically separates the pros from the bros and I begin to notice that when the swell pulses, only Benji, Kelly, or Ozzie are going.
In the distance, Timmy is getting deep left-hand barrel after deep lefthand barrel. Alex comes in to reload his 16mm water camera and says, “Fuck man, it’s heavy out there. There’s some serious waves coming in.” I have huge respect for the guys who swim in heavy conditions and shoot photos and moving pictures. You’re battling currents, rip tides, and closeouts; you’re trying to stay in the right position for the best angle; you’re avoiding getting hit by guys who shouldn’t be out there; you’re lugging around 20 pounds worth of dead weight in the form of your camera; and all the while, you’re trying to create art. Alex has been swimming six-to-eight-hours a day fora week. He’s up early, in the water anytime someone is having a session, and constantly eating to maintain energy levels. A few minutes later, Timmy comes in battered. He smashed his right arm against his knee and his heel is bleeding after making contact with the reef. He looks a little guilty for not having surfed the right where all the cameras are, opting for the left instead, but you can’t blame a goofyfoot for wanting to go left.

Timmy’s says his tricep is killing him, but you can’t really tell by looking at it if it’s injured or not. His wife Shanoa brings him some ice for his arm and helps him clean his heel and he sits on the deck in front of the house, where we all sit when we aren’t surfing or filming, and watches Kelly for a while. Like all the WCT guys, Timmy seems somewhat in awe of Slater. His surfing is so otherworldly even the best surfers alive just w*nt to watch.
Occasionally one of the guys comes in from a session and seems upset to have had to surf with Kelly. “Kelly is the best crowd surfer of all time,” Benji tries to explain this phenomenon to me a few days later. “Everywhere in the world, he’s the best local out.” “Oh look, here he goes,” Benji points to the lineup where Kelly is catching his fourth wave in 10 minutes. Kelly beats a half-dozen locals for the wave, gets barrelled, and a bodyboarder drops in on him, closing the wave out. Benji laughs, “He probably hit the bottom, cut himself, but it’s healed already. It’s hard to surf with Kelly because he’s so on it out there. He’s paddling around you, catching everything.” Kelly to Taylor about the Friday morning session: So that was probably one of the best filming sessions we’ve ever had, huh?

Taylor: It was, for sure. I think this entry kind of speaks for itself. Midday on Friday, none of the locals want anything to do with the biggest sets (and I seriously don’t blame them). Only local Mark Holder is charging with Oz, Benji, Kelly, and Timmy. Most guys are scratching over the big ones, looking over the lip, and opting out. Before he goes out for the afternoon session, I ask Ozzie if he’s scared out there. “Yeah, I’m scared,” he answers. “It’s an easy wave, you just have to commit to the drop, put your head down, and charge. I’m scared of Pipeline. I’m scared of Teahupoo, too, but I’m gonna go there and surf it. I know once I’m there, I’ll go.” I ask Ozzie that before he paddles out for his third surf on this Friday. At four pm, he’s already been in the water for over five hours and he looks sceptical about going out a third time. He sits and stares as set after set come in, each one bigger than the one before it. It’s maxing out at this point, the biggest it’s been all day. This is the peak of the swell. After each wave, Ozzie says something like, “Shhhhhhit.” Eventually, he jumps up, waxes his board, puts on his leash, smears sunscreen on his face and runs toward the beach. It’s as if he’s getting out there before he thinks too much more about it. Watching Kelly, it becomes clear to me that if he has a good year on tour, title number seven should be easy. He’s surfing like a man possessed. In the water, he has a crazy look in his eye – he hassles and battles and, at times, gets two waves from a six-wave set.

The wave our house sits in plain view of is famous on the East Coast of the USA and throughout the Caribbean. The setup is similar to Sunset Beach – a heavy right with huge barrel potential and the possibility of swing-wide sets that send people scratching for the horizon, praying not to get caught inside. Near the kick-out point on the wave is a powerful rip tide that will tow you straight into a mess of a treacherous left that pounds on a waist-deep coral and volcanic-rock shelf. To lose your board and get caught in the rip is not an enticing proposition. Add to all this a pack of rambunctious locals – some of whom aren’t really prepared to surf this spot at eight-foot-plus (that’s Hawaiian, folks… we’re talking about 15-foot faces)- and you realise that this is a world-class wave with world-class pitfalls. By 11:00, it’s a couple feet bigger. The swell is serious. The surf is easily double-overhead plus and Kelly, Benji, and Ozzie are all having incredible sessions. I’m really impressed with Ozzie. Anyone who says he’s a gimmick or a product of marketing can fuck off (000000! Tough guy! – Ed). He’s schooling the locals on his fourth-ever session out at [name of spot omitted]. At 11:15, he gets two barrels on the same wave and a bus full of tourists driving by are screaming like they just won the lottery.
As the editor of a surf magazine in the US, I get more complaints than you’d ever believe (mostly from people in the surf industry) about running too many Ozzie Wright photos. I’ve heard him called everything from a “gimmick” to “fake.” People have told me he speeds his video parts up so that it’ll seem like he’s surfing faster. Advertisers have threatened to pull out if we run another Ozzie photo. Watching him backside tube ride in such heavy conditions, I suddenly feel vindicated.
Benji follows Ozzie’s wave with a stand-up barrel. Thirty seconds later Slater catches the biggest wave of the day so far and stands in it with both hands raised over his head. [Spot name omitted] is huge – 10 feet Hawaiian, people are claiming. The rights are starting to connect with the left just north and it’s making the channel a boiling cauldron. At this point in the session, the locals (even the really good ones) are starting to pass on set waves. This is the size that typically separates the pros from the bros and I begin to notice that when the swell pulses, only Benji, Kelly, or Ozzie are going.
In the distance, Timmy is getting deep left-hand barrel after deep lefthand barrel. Alex comes in to reload his 16mm water camera and says, “Fuck man, it’s heavy out there. There’s some serious waves coming in.” I have huge respect for the guys who swim in heavy conditions and shoot photos and moving pictures. You’re battling currents, rip tides, and closeouts; you’re trying to stay in the right position for the best angle; you’re avoiding getting hit by guys who shouldn’t be out there; you’re lugging around 20 pounds worth of dead weight in the form of your camera; and all the while, you’re trying to create art. Alex has been swimming six-to-eight-hours a day fora week. He’s up early, in the water anytime someone is having a session, and constantly eating to maintain energy levels. A few minutes later, Timmy comes in battered. He smashed his right arm against his knee and his heel is bleeding after making contact with the reef. He looks a little guilty for not having surfed the right where all the cameras are, opting for the left instead, but you can’t blame a goofyfoot for wanting to go left.
Timmy’s says his tricep is killing him, but you can’t really tell by looking at it if it’s injured or not. His wife Shanoa brings him some ice for his arm and helps him clean his heel and he sits on the deck in front of the house, where we all sit when we aren’t surfing or filming, and watches Kelly for a while. Like all the WCT guys, Timmy seems somewhat in awe of Slater. His surfing is so otherworldly even the best surfers alive just w*nt to watch.
Occasionally one of the guys comes in from a session and seems upset to have had to surf with Kelly. “Kelly is the best crowd surfer of all time,” Benji tries to explain this phenomenon to me a few days later. “Everywhere in the world, he’s the best local out.” “Oh look, here he goes,” Benji points to the lineup where Kelly is catching his fourth wave in 10 minutes. Kelly beats a half-dozen locals for the wave, gets barrelled, and a bodyboarder drops in on him, closing the wave out. Benji laughs, “He probably hit the bottom, cut himself, but it’s healed already. It’s hard to surf with Kelly because he’s so on it out there. He’s paddling around you, catching everything.” Kelly to Taylor about the Friday morning session: So that was probably one of the best filming sessions we’ve ever had, huh?
Taylor: It was, for sure. I think this entry kind of speaks for itself. Midday on Friday, none of the locals want anything to do with the biggest sets (and I seriously don’t blame them). Only local Mark Holder is charging with Oz, Benji, Kelly, and Timmy. Most guys are scratching over the big ones, looking over the lip, and opting out. Before he goes out for the afternoon session, I ask Ozzie if he’s scared out there. “Yeah, I’m scared,” he answers. “It’s an easy wave, you just have to commit to the drop, put your head down, and charge. I’m scared of Pipeline. I’m scared of Teahupoo, too, but I’m gonna go there and surf it. I know once I’m there, I’ll go.” I ask Ozzie that before he paddles out for his third surf on this Friday. At four pm, he’s already been in the water for over five hours and he looks sceptical about going out a third time. He sits and stares as set after set come in, each one bigger than the one before it. It’s maxing out at this point, the biggest it’s been all day. This is the peak of the swell. After each wave, Ozzie says something like, “Shhhhhhit.” Eventually, he jumps up, waxes his board, puts on his leash, smears sunscreen on his face and runs toward the beach. It’s as if he’s getting out there before he thinks too much more about it. Watching Kelly, it becomes clear to me that if he has a good year on tour, title number seven should be easy. He’s surfing like a man possessed. In the water, he has a crazy look in his eye – he hassles and battles and, at times, gets two waves from a six-wave set.

Kelly’s last wave is a perfect five-second barrel followed by a crazy, straight-up frontside snap and finished with a trademark under-the-lip floater on a closing-out section. Back at the house, Kelly says, “I’d call this a 20-year swell, because I’ve been coming here for 20 years and I’ve never seen it this good. It’s not often you see waves like this… ever,., anywhere.”
Kelly is the last one out of the water and when he gets back to the deck and sets his boards down, Benji, Timmy, Ozzie, Alex, Todd, Dustin, Taylor, and I give him a subdued but respectful round of applause. Kelly, who everyone simply calls “Hell,” gets a couple pats on the back, he tells some stories about the afternoon surf and someone puts a beer in his hand just as he’s saying, “If I could, I’d live that day over and over for the rest of my life.”

By Joel Patterson
Photography by Dustin Humphrey
(and all captured on film for Taylor Steele’s new movie Sipping Jetstreams)

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