Underground: Kelly Slater

Underground: Kelly Slater

A Kelly Slater Underground? Have you seen him lately? Maybe in some photos, or maybe you saw him this past winter at Foodland in Hawai’i on the North Shore. But unless you were in Huntington Beach, California at the Op T3 contest, or in France for some shop opening, you wouldn’t have seen Kelly in a few months. Yet somehow without much coverage, current video parts, or contest action, Kelly’s still the undisputed best surfer in the world.

So where’s he been? TransWorld SURF caught up with Kelly on the Gold Coast of Australia as he sat in his high-rise apartment in his underwear. Take a seat and read, we’ll tell you the latest on Kelly.

-C.C.[IMAGE 1]What have you been up to for the past couple of months? What’s your deal been lately?
I spent a month and a half in France, a month in California, a couple of months in Hawai’i, and then after that I was in California for a few more weeks. I’ve been here Australia for a couple of weeks now.

Basically, just surfing lots of good places.I’m surfing a lot-just surfing a ton when I’m in California where the waves are poor. I didn’t want to leave Hawai’i, but I had to go surf that Op T3 team challange contest. I drove away from ten-foot Pipe, so I was very disturbed about that at the time. I sat around for two weeks and had one really classic day of surfing, but out here Australia I’ve been surfing every day.

What do you do in California when you’re not surfing?
I shape boards with Al Merrick every once in a while, golf … I was actually feeling like I wasn’t doing anything so I started going to the gym and working out.

Have you been playing music lately?
I’ve been playing a little bit-not a lot, but I just did some back up vocals on an album for my friend. It’s gonna be called Butterfly Jones. He was in a band called Dada when we had our band, The Surfers Peter King, Rob Machado. He’d play guitar with us a few times. So anyway, he was doing this album and asked he me to sing on this one song-just a few choruses. That’s about it, musically.

Do you have any plans to do any recordings or things like that?
I’d like to sometime, but I don’t have any plans. I’m more into writing songs and not finishing them-I probably have like 50 songs I’ve worked on, but I haven’t had any time to do anything with them.

Do you have more or less time than you used to now that you’re not obligated to be in all those contests?
Wow! Is that Kalani?
Kelly sees the May 2001 issue TransWorld SURF cover on the table in front of him. Sick shot!I have more time now, but I’m doing a few more things for Quiksilver now, too. It’s not lot of promos, just different places. Like I gotta be in Australia, Japan, California, Indonesia …[IMAGE 2]Traveling around a lot.
Most of the places are surf trips, but some are contests I don’t really want to be at.

It’s kind of disenchanting to pull up when the waves are one foot.Yeah. If Huntington was good, I probably would’ve liked being there. But it turned out to be a good thing, ’cause I got to see all the young kids surf, like Dylan Graves. I’ve heard a lot about him. I used to surf with his dad Lewis when I was a kid, you know. He was one of the local guys at Sebastian Inlet-that’s all I have to say about that.

Have you been on any good trips lately?
Like just straight surf trips?
There haven’t been any just straight surf trips in a while. I went over to Kaua’i for a little while with Ross Williams. It was just a trip with our girlfriends, but it was pretty fun.

Any plans to rejoin the tour anytime soon?
Maybe next year-it’s possible. I’ve been thinking about it, but I don’t know yet. Being off the tour, I’m realizing now how draining it was emotionally, mentally, and even physically. There’re were a lot of things that went well for me. Looking back now, I realized there so many things that went in to winning a title, just being so focused all year, you know. Itt’s not just going to a contest and winning heats, it’s like you have to be focused on how to win heats-make sure everything’s right.I just became really obsessed with all that, and I think being obsessed with all those things gave me an advantage-made me focus in a little bit more than the next guy. I’m not sure I’ll have that edge-that “eye of the tiger” sort of thing. I don’t know, I guess I’m just at a point in my life where I don’t feel I have too much to prove. I mean, when you’re young, you know, when you’re just starting to get into a sport and people are starting to know who you are, I think it’s instinctive for someone to feel like they have something to prove. I just don’t feel it’s something I have to do.

Have you been doing more airs lately?
Not a lot, but last night I went to bed thinking about doing different kinds of aerials like all gnarly on different kinds of waves.I was actually thinking about skateboarding and when they first started doing aerials. I’m sure they had no idea they’d be doing what they’re doing now. I think the first time a skateboarder pulled a flip, they were probably tripping out. I think it’s gonna be cool when we start getting comfortable doing more airs like that. Doing flips are going to be pretty normal-doing flips are going to be like doing reverses.[IMAGE 3]