Kelly Slater 9th World Title Interview
The day started with torrential downpours, hails storms and a peaking northwest swell. With that patent unflappable determination in his eyes, Kelly Slater arrived to the contest site 30 minutes before his heat. Already wearing his wetsuit and with board under arm, he snuck through the contest site, whistled at a little dog that was standing out in the rain, and proceeded to scurry down the Mundaka cliff, escaping into the maelstrom and away from the mess of shivering media. 40-minutes later, in a somewhat uneventful affair, Kelly would eliminate local Basque surfer Eneko Acero, thus clinching his much anticipated ninth world title. From there tradition took over. Kelly hoisted the title cup and was hucked into the Mundaka harbor. The following is his take from immediate post-heat interviews:
17 years ago you jumped on tour, could you ever have imagined that you’d get nine?
I never even thought about it. It never even popped into my head. It’s crazy.
Now that you’re here, what are your thoughts?
Uh, I don’t know. I was thinking I could ride my quad in my next heat and not worry about it.
This year you started off at Snapper and kind of didn’t really get a lot of attention until you won it. You kind of snuck through, while all the attention was on Mick repeating, and the talent field as deep as it is, what are your thoughts on that?
Yeah, I kind of forgot about that until you brought it up. I really felt like I flew under the radar in that event because there was so much focus on Jordy and Dane making the tour, and obviously back at Mick’s spot he’s the defending champ, so I was just sort of sneaking around at that event and making it through heats. And honestly, I didn’t have my heart set on doing the tour this year. A lot of people think I was messing with them or something, and some guys think I was just saying that because it does something for me mentally, and maybe it does, but I wasn’t going to go to Bells. Then I went and got that win, and at that point I thought it was either a great time to stop, or a great time to get it in order and go for it, and that’s what ended up happening.
A lot’s been said about the rumors of 10 million dollars for 10 titles, are you prepared to make a statement about your tour status for next year?
Oh, I’d love it if somebody gave me 10 million bucks for 10…if I could do that.
So are you going to come back and compete?
Ummm, ummm. It’s tough, you know.
I know you’re eyeballing Shane Dorian and his lifestyle all the time?
Part of me loves this, and obviously I’ve got goals. I’ve had goals my whole life, you know, trying to win world titles and stuff like that. But then I love surfing, and I love just catching good waves. I’ve been seeing all that stuff back on the East Coast, and I haven’t been to North Carolina in years. I keep seeing all these pictures, and know Cory [Lopez] has been scoring waves all over the world. Then I see Shane and he’s got a pretty good lifestyle. He goes to Tavi and Bali a few times a year, and then gets to stay at home. So you know, I mean that’s super inviting, but it’s always there, so we’ll see what happens.
In terms of this tour title, how does it rate against the other eight, or has it sunk in?
Not really. It wasn’t like a super climactic finish. I had to make it through that heat, and if I didn’t I was going to have to sit and watch how Taj did, then have to watch how he did in Brazil, so it wasn’t one of those really down-to-the-wire kind of things that’s pretty exciting for sport or for contests. But it’s definitely nice to get it out of the way.
So in terms of your surfing goals, have you reached all your goals or are there other mountains to climb?
Oh yeah, always. Surfing’s a constant challenge. No matter how old you get you feel like you’re always improving. I’m sure when I’m 80 I’ll be thinking I’m still getting better. There’s still a lot to learn. I love experimenting with boards, surfing new waves, going to new places. You know, it’s my life, so it’ll never end.
In terms of sport, some people have put you on the same level as Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan. Do you think you are worthy my man?(Dumb ass GT)
That's not nice...I'm just happy to do the best I can with what I have. I may be on that level to other people, but I’m just satisfied with where I’m at.
You won five events out of seven this year, do you think you’re surfing the best you ever have?
I don’t know. I’m a better surfer than I’ve ever been, but I wouldn’t say that I go out and surf my best in every heat. I didn’t think I surfed very good in France at all. I feel like I kind of kooked out in that contest. I just sort of made it through heats and got the right waves. It’s one of those contests that if you get the right waves you’re going to make it through your heat, and that’s what I did. And I didn’t surf any exceptional heats just now, I got the scores I needed and luckily made it through. But definitely when you get in this position the screws start tightening, you start feeling the pressure. You just want the day to end.
All year long people have been saying 10, but you keep saying let me win nine first. Now you’ve won nine, what about 10?
Yeah, like I said, it hasn’t even sunk in yet.
It must have been pretty special surfing against a Basque surfer out there?
Yeah, it was quite ironic to have a Basque guy. You know, I’ve got to hand it to Eneko [Acero], he wasn’t going to give me one inch of room out there. You know, he got that first score, then he paddled around me and started hassling me a little bit. I started getting a little pissed for a second there, but then I thought, you know what, this is as important for him as it is for me and why should he give me any room. Then I sort of got myself back together. I wasn’t emotional about it, it was just another heat, but you know, there were a few waves that snuck under us in that heat and hit the inside shelf. I think I got two like that under his priority and that’s what made the difference.
Is it a bit disappointing Mick’s not here to hand off the trophy?
No, it’s fine. I understand. He wanted to be home. It’s a long year. I mean, our year is too long as it is, and Mick’s congratulated me at the last two events, and said good things, so there’s no hard feelings there at all.
You still have the potential for a perfect season if you drop three events and win eight you’ve got yourself a perfect season. Thoughts?
I didn’t think about that. I guess so, theoretically.