Professional surfer Kelly Slater is more than just a championship-level competitor. In fact, summing him up that way almost insults his accomplishments. Not only has Slater made the record books by becoming World Surf League Champion 11 times, he holds the records for youngest (at age 20) and oldest (at age 38) competitor to win it.
Not only that, he’s the first surfer to get a perfect 20 out of 20 under the ASP two-wave scoring system, accomplishing this feat at both the Billabong Tahiti Pro contest and the Volcom Fiji Pro. As of this writing, he is the most successful champion in the history of surfing, his grace and style on the board unparalleled, his work ethic unmatched. He is to surfing what Tom Brady is to football, or what Tony Hawk is to skateboarding.
Since surfing is such a dangerous sport, even guys like Slater wipe out every so often. In a sit-down interview with sports reporter Graham Bensinger, Kelly talks about some of his more legendary wipeouts, including one incident in France where he accidentally knocked himself out.
“I laugh about it now,” he says, remembering the incident. By his recollection, a wave he’d caught bent away from him, causing his board to slip out from under his feet after he over-rotated on a turn. “When I fell, I fell backwards and my board separated from my feet and went below me,” he says, which caused him to knock himself out when he landed on it.
Coming to underwater, he recovered his board despite going into shock, and many of the event’s onlookers didn’t even realize he was injured.
Below, watch Kelly Slater’s full interview with Graham Bensinger.