Last week we received word from big wave charger Ken "Skindog" Collins that nine-time (and soon to be ten-time) World Champ Kelly Slater wants in on the Mavericks event, soon to be renamed the "Jay Moriarity Mavericks Invitational."
Kelly tackled the Mavericks event back in the 90's but hasn't shown face there in nearly a decade. But Kelly's always had a knack for big waves—he won the Quiksilver Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational in 2002 and in last year's Eddie he was winning the event until the last few seconds of the contest, pushing the level of big wave surfing to a completely different bar.
With the Big Wave World Tour about to embark on it's first full year with six stops, maybe this is the exit strategy Slater has been dreaming of for years. Imagine if he were to replicate his success on tour at the world's premier big wave spots against the best hellmen in the world? You can bet that if he decides on doing the whole tour he'll want to be champ—and he probably will be. Below is a quick chat with Skindog.—Ryan Brower
So you got an email from Kelly?
Ken "Skindog" Collins: Over an email to all contestants and organizers, Kelly replied about this year's event saying, "He would be at this year's pre-event ceremony to throw his hat in the ring." Nobody said or emailed anything. So that night I called Grant Baker and Pete Mel and asked if that was for real. They were both equally in shock and disbelief. But we all agreed that was his real email and a straight up claim that he wants in.
Have you talked to Kelly since?
Yes. I asked him and he said he wants to come over for some Shane-O barrels. He said he was tripping out and was bummed he wasn't around for the event last year.
When is the pre-event ceremony?
The ceremony will be the last week of November (date TBA).
Do you think Kelly sees what Shane Dorian is doing with his endeavors and wants to do that sort of stuff?
I think Kelly wants to be the best at whatever he does. Last year he pulled into a bomb in the Eddie but didn't come out where Shane pulled into a bomb at the Mavs event and came out. Without a doubt, Kelly wants to top Shane.
You think he wants to be the big wave surfing champ now, too?
In my opinion, Kelly is over the tour but doesn't necessarily want to retire. The Big Wave Tour would be like the next level for him, a totally new challenge and another way for him to leave his mark as the best surfer in the world.
What do you think Kelly's involvement would do for the Mavs event?
Just the fact that he wants in is huge—it will bring even more attention to the event. He hasn't surfed Mavericks in over a decade, and there is a good chance the boys will make him prove that he wants in by making him charge it first. Just because you are the king of pro surfing does not mean you get a free pass to "The Jay". To get in the contest you need to be voted in by the past and present competitors. And that itself should certainly cause some major drama. Many upstarts are giving everything they have at Mavericks to break into this invite-only event and Kelly hasn't surfed the place in years. Those guys might flip out if they get passed up in a fast track move by none other than The Florida Kid.
But you guys are still waiting for the "Jay" to receive the permit for the event, correct?
We'll get it without a doubt. There is no battle, the competitors were not satisfied with the previous organizers and stepped away and started their own organization. This is the way it should have been from the start.
What does the Mavs event mean to you?
The Mavericks event is fast becoming the premier international big wave contest in the world. I'm blown away on who is showing up each swell to prove their skills. Every year I find myself saying, "Who is that guy?" There're just so many guys showing up and blowing up nowadays. They're going so hard trying to leave a mark. Some succeed and others get blown up. It never gets old to me. I'll be out at Mavericks for the rest of my life to watch this show.
Stay tuned to transworldsurf.com for more of this story as it develops, as well as Kelly's finishing touches on that soon-to-be 10th World Title.