Loser? Kelly Slater gets the cover, and second place.

Kelly Slater gets the cover, and second place.

Kelly lost. Simple statement, less-than-simple meaning. For surfers, a Kelly loss is confusing. How could he lose? He's the king, the inventor of modern surfing, the enigmatic frontman for surfing's only billion-dollar company. He's the chosen one, he's Godlike, he can surf any wave on Earth and make it look fun. He's Jordan. And now he's a loser. Or is he? Even in his moment of defeat, on the birthday of his recently deceased father, with chaos swirling around him, Kelly managed to provide fans of surfing with the most exciting finale the sport has ever experienced. Think about that for a second. If you were on the North Shore, you'll never forget the experience.

Photographer Mark Oblow shot the cover of this magazine. He didn't do so at our request–it was shot for some other project, probably for Quiksilver. But we thought the moment mirrored the feeling we all had as Kelly stood on the podium watching Andy raise the WCT Champion trophy.–J.P.

Photo: Mark Oblow