Kelly Slater is an interesting man. He’s outspoken, at least in the world of surf. He’s won more events than any other person. He’s started more companies than most, toyed with more equipment than most, and put himself out there for the world to see whenever he feels the need. So when he sat down with Occy for the second episode of Occ-Cast, it was bound to be an interesting conversation, full of tidbits and knowledge gleaned from a lifetime of living a life that no one else even comes close to. If you don’t have time to sit through the entire podcast above, I’ve compiled a few paragraphs from the King’s conversation with Occy.
On his long-term back injury
I am carrying a pretty serious back problem. I have been for a number of years now. I don’t know if I’ve been in denial of it or pretending it’s not as bad as it is or whatever, but I have quite a lot of days where I don’t actually surf because my back hurts. It’s lower back. I get scoliosis pretty badly in my back, and I’ve got a real imbalance where I’m short on one side and long on the other. Then up the middle back it sort of goes the opposite–I’ve got this s-curve in my back.
On surfing goofy-foot:
I think it’s a good process for your brain. You have think ‘ok, I feel backwards. What do I do–ok, that’s how I move those muscles.’ In fact, I want to take about 6 weeks or 2 months and film the process of only surfing goofy foot. Not catch a wave regular foot for a couple of months.
On his wavepool:
There’s plenty of speed. Buoyancy only matters if you’re on a wave having to generate your own speed and it’s a complete mushball. Nat Young came and surfed, and the first thing he said was ‘there’s no difference. I thought there was going to be a huge difference… I don’t feel a difference at all.’ It’s not hard. We know how to make the swell. It’s how do you make the bottom and the right angle of peeling and the sections–that’s the evolution of where it would go now. Building in sections that would appeal to everyone, not just a one-type maneuver. How do I make it fun for everyone? The average person surfing is not going to be a high-level guy. They’re going to be just your everyday surfer that cruises and maybe doesn’t really ride the barrel that great; they don’t smash the lip and do airs. They just kind of cruise and have fun and feel the speed.
The whole wave can be 45 seconds. You have to wait for it to settle, but if you’re riding by yourself, you couldn’t turn around and ride a wave that quickly because your legs hurt anyway.
On surfing in the Olympics:
I’m middle of the road on it, to be honest. I think the best surfer is determined by a great number of different waves and sizes and conditions. It does bring in the argument of ‘is a wavepool viable?’ With the same playing field, like a skate ramp or whatever, you can really break down each aspect of the surfing. You could really critique everybody’s turns. It would change certain aspects of how you judge a wave. In the ocean, you can’t argue that there’s luck. You can’t argue that there’s there’s an art to finding the best wave. Japan does get good waves, but it could be flat. That would be bad for surfing.
On seeing his wavepool in person for the first time in person:
I was so excited, like more than Christmas. The had this whole film crew. They were trying to make that happen, but not let me know they were filming me. Everyone pulled back while I watched it; we had probably 30 people there. I was just so mesmerized, I almost started crying. I was like ‘what am I looking at? I’m looking at Sandspit! We got it!’ It looked fake. I saw this thing coming at me, and to me I felt like it was a monster. It was a Loch Ness monster. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. There’s no way that what I’m seeing is real. You can’t soak it up. You can’t process what you’re seeing.
On big wave surfing:
I was going to do Jaws last year. God, that looked scary as hell. Funny enough, the guy from Florida that got invited missed the event because he was surfing a wavepool that day. There’s some kind of sick joke in there.
On a life of surfing:
Our life is so nomadic. It’s fun. I think I made that decision early on in my life–probably in my teens or about 20–where I just went ‘man, this is so fun. Can’t get enough of this stuff.’ I’m not a routine guy. I almost don’t know what to do when I have to stay in one place. I don’t get in a routine at all.
On his diet:
I’m not like, crazy over the top about it. I just find when I eat too much food or too many foods, I don’t feel as good. There’s generation of massively obese people in America. They call it S.A.D: Standard American Diet. It’s just terrible. It’s low-fat, high carbs, high calories. Basically it’s terrible. Completely processed, modified… it’s just modified food. I think the more close to natural food–raw–you can eat, with fewer foods per meal, the easier your body can process it. We’re so used to the macro-nutrients–the chicken, steak, fish, or potatoes–but you have to think about the micro-nutrients–your chlorellas, spirulinas–all your supplementing. I really think that that’s been a huge part of my longevity.
On retirement and another world title:
Look, I’m happy. It’s like, you know, water finds its level. At the end of the day, whatever result you get, you either rest on what you got and you’re stoked on it, or–you know, anyone going for a world title, when you have a loss, it eats you up, and you go ‘you know what? I’m going to wipe that thing off my plate next contest. I’ve found when I have a bad result, it actually made me go on a run better than I probably would have had I not had that loss. So world title? I feel like I have the ability. I wouldn’t be here competing if I didn’t feel like I had that ability. I think it’s been obvious in the good waves that I’ve had the results and in the worst waves that I haven’t had the results, but I also haven’t had that desire to really just be on my game. I haven’t had that same kind of hunger unless the waves are good. I think in order to win another world title, I’d have to find that again, in all conditions. Be super decisive–not be playing around with my board choices and stuff.