Sports transcend. That’s what they do. That’s why we love them, and why every once in a while a moment arrives that is so transcendent that people relish dissecting it many years after it passed. The high five between Rob Machado and Kelly Slater at the 1995 Pipe Masters is one such moment.
In this moment, two friends competing for a world title in magical conditions at Pipeline managed to set their competitive ambitions aside to share a lifelong camaradarie on a world stage. No matter that a world title was on the line. You don’t often see Wimbledon finalists set their rackets down to embrace mid-volley. Surfing is different. We know this.
To some, it’s a moment that calls the idea of surfing as a sport into question. To others, the high five represents an opportune strategic maneuver conceived by none other than surfing’s greatest competitor.
Who really knows?
That’s why we caught up with Rob Machado, Kelly Slater, Sunny Garcia and the illustrious cast of characters affected by possibly the most iconic moment in professional surfing to date. The high five was a catalyst for a lot of things, and one that in many ways, crystallizes Rob Machado’s contribution to surfing. Rob trailblazed a path for the free surfer where none existed before him. Without Rob, Dane Reynolds, Craig Anderson, and Noa Deane might be traveling a much more more rugged road. Rob laid that pavement.
On the 20th anniversary of Rob Machado and Kelly Slater’s high five and the 5th anniversary of The Inertia, we present to you a short story about a beautiful moment in surfing. We hope you enjoy.
And last night at Turtle Bay, we brought Rob and Kelly to discuss the high five together for the very first time. Be on the lookout for the full cut from a very special talk story.
Special thanks to Rob Machado, Kelly Slater, Jim Machado, Sal Masekela, Sunny Garcia, Dane Reynolds, Dave Prodan, Reef, Hurley, Squeak E Clean, and the WSL for being part of this project. It’s a dream come true that we were able to create this.