A Final Word On The Kelly Slater Air

I almost didn’t write anything. In all honestly, I thought that Kelly Slater’s air against Mick Fanning at the Hurley Pro was too obvious to publicly condemn — he fell. It’s plain and simple. Black and white. Although, in Kelly Slater In Black And White, he actually lands things properly and wasn’t that a great movie? But I ended up writing something about the air anyway and now we’re here.

Here, as in Cardiff, California at 11:06 PM on a Sunday, halfway drunk, strangely fired up. I shared a brief opinion on the air shortly after it happened, which you can read that here. That piece left me incredibly unsatisfied, mostly because I didn’t think that my opinion wouldn’t be met with so much disagreement. 150 comments later — ranging from hey you’re right to hey you should lose your job and I would like to fistfight you — I feel like I should better explain my points.

Actually, I shouldn’t. I only have one point and it’s simple: He didn’t land that air. At least he didn’t land it in the way that things are meant to be landed on a surfboard. The wave was a 4.17.

So instead of delving into mine point, I’ll just go ahead dismiss yours.

It was technically a pull.
One of the most persuasive arguments I’ve seen comes in the form of an analogy. Someone brought up the idea that if a golfer banks a ball off a tree and it ends up in the hole, it still counts. I call that persuasive because it actually made me stop and think for a second. And, well, here’s what I thought:

Golf is objective. You’re hitting a ball into a hole. Scoring in golf is based on how many swings it takes you to get the ball into the hole. In surfing, we don’t have a hole. We don’t have a goal or a net or an end zone. What we do have is a criteria that has been established over decades and decades of the world’s best surfing, and it’s a criteria that the world’s best surfers and minds agree with. Kelly’s air didn’t please the criteria, and it did not find its way into the hole that we’ve subjectively defined as good surfing. Which brings me to my next point.

It was progressive.
According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of progressive is the process of improving or developing something over a period of time. You think this improves surfing? You think it moves us forward? Kelly severely damaged his board on that air and had to surf on bad equipment for the rest of the heat. If you want to see more of that in the future, have fun watching every dickhead from San Clemente to São Paulo try and headbutt their Hypto Kryptos in 2023.

And I’m all for people doing new and innovative maneuvers. It’s just that Kelly’s wasn’t one.

But the crowd cheered!
Yeah, and an NHL arena gets significantly louder during a fight. Certain semantics draw certain attention. In the case of an NHL glove drop, a fight can actually affect momentum and can have an impact the rest of the game. In the case of Kelly’s air, no. Just no. It was eye-catching and entertaining for both a live and a worldwide internet audience, but it was nothing more than an attractive sideshow.

The most glaring thing isn’t necessarily the best thing for a sport. Remember that video of an Olympic speed walker shitting himself and passing out in London? Only speed walking video I ever did see.

The rest of the wave was better than a 4.17.
If you think that a mid-face 360 is impressive and score-worthy, then go back to either the 1980s or The Inertia. He had a good jab towards the end there, but it was nothing that warranted more than what he was given.

I believe that should cover it and I anticipate zero comments on this. Just thousands upon thousands of broken minds coming here and feeling like their thoughts have been hijacked. A graveyard of opinions, really. Sweet epitaph though.


Mister Steal Yo Argument