By Travis Ferré
Yesterday Kelly Slater made his first stop-in at the new SURFING Magazine building. It was three days before the Hurley Pro is scheduled to begin. We also met with Taylor Steele about the future. We also went to Billabong headquarters and played video games. We also had a Swimsuit Issue model casting, with two-dozen lovely young things breezing in and out of the office like it was the Playboy Mansion. But that’s all not important. Or maybe it is.
Anyway, we invited Kelly in, told him it’s open door policy now. Stop by anytime. I learned that he loves his iPhone and noticed how calm he is in person. So calm. Too calm. As surreal as it was to sit and chat with him and Managing Editor Stuart Cornuelle for two hours, it all felt a little eerie and pregnant. Like something’s about to change for Kelly. He seemed disinterested in tour talk, really — but very interested in other things (stay tuned for a full interview). We must remember, however, that he’s been doing this contest thing for 20-odd years, touring around and surfing, and another stop at Lowers must be about exciting as cold oatmeal.
Remember Kelly Slater. We’ve seen this act before. Things to keep in mind: He’s rated 2nd going into Lowers, a mere 250 points shy of Jordy Smith. That’s the equivalent to a whitewater floater. We’re going into Lowers, France, Portugal, Puerto Rico and Pipe. Kelly Slater could potentially win his 10th — and almost certainly final — ASP World Title this year. And we won’t even see it coming.
As I sat there, conversing with a human who has done so much for us, and who’s as interesting a human and surfer as there is, I couldn’t help but think: Somewhere under this cloak of reserve is a f—cking tiger. It was scary like the Shark Encounter at Sea World, waaaaaaaaay to damn calm. So before I go into some other things to watch for this weekend when the Hurley Pro ramps up, remember Kelly Slater. He’s against SURFING Magazine intern Kolohe Andino in heat six of round one. I wonder if he’ll have cereal for breakfast.
As for the rest of the field: We’ll get our first taste of the newly trimmed 36-man ASP format. But instead of getting confused, let’s just see how it feels. All of us. Dane’s in the first heat so I know you’ll tune in early anyway. We’ll figure it out together.
And if the US Open of Surfing was any indication of what we can expect as far as Hurley’s webcast and event planning goes, then let’s get excited. Hurley’s back at it and ready to make our online viewing experience a pleasant one. “Every year, we strive to make the sport of surfing better,” says Hurley’s Pat O’Connell. “And the Hurley Pro is the perfect venue to achieve that. From the world’s best surfers to the fans on the beach to the online audience, we’re looking to elevate the experience across the board.”
The prize purse is worth $465,000. That’s a lot. We’ll see you Sunday morning. Remember Kelly Slater.
The Hurley Pro will take place September 12-18 with heats running five of the seven days. For more info check out http://www.hurley.com/hurleypro/.