The would have to be foolish to buy a surfboard designed for Kelly Slater thinking it would make them surf like Kelly Slater. In fact, I’ve had plenty of conversations with shapers who believe Kelly’s outlandish abilities on a surfboard have doomed the rest of us to never reaching our own potential. We become so enamored with his gear, what he’s riding and where he’s riding it that, similar to other aspects of surf culture we get sucked into a copycat mentality – ditching our own unique style because we want to follow in the footsteps of those we appreciate. In some ways that kills the whole point of surfing. In other ways that sums up a massive chunk of the surfing population.
Wow, I sound like I’m about to bash this entire moment – the big reveal of Kelly Slater’s first line of boards from Slater Designs. But it’s quite the contrary. Slater Designs announced they’d be showing off a few select models before boards hit the open market later this spring. What we’ve been treated to is a peak at outlines from Webber Surfboards and Tomo. One board in particular, a prototype model by Tomo, was the same board Kelly rode in his now famous best man made wave ever video that was released last month. The 5’7″ x 18 1/2 x 2 5/16 model with wax still on the deck as it sits on the showroom floor today is a prototype Kelly and Dan Thomson worked on together, while a consumer version (so you don’t get duped into thinking you have to surf just like Kelly) of the board will be made available around the time the WSL heads to Snapper Rocks.
The first three models revealed are the Sci-Phi and Omni, both designed by Daniel Thomson, and the Banana by Greg Webber, which we saw Kelly surf at Pipe. The Sci-Phi is a quad/thruster option with that funky bat tail-ish thing designed for the small days when you need something flat and maneuverable. The Omni is a daily driver type/go-to board. Kelly describes it as a board that looks like it’s made for smaller days even though it performs well in overhead surf. Kelly’s fin setup on this board? A tri setup for carving on the open face and a quad when trying to get barreled. And of course, the Banana model by Webber is a throwback to the 90’s design that Shane Herring and Greg Webber made popular. Of course the new rendition has a modern makeover, keeping its roots as your step up board when it’s firing.