Kelly is the new king of the interview!
Last week it was the Undeniable Show with Joe Buck, this week it’s The Occ-cast with Mark Occhilupo. Kelly seems to have reached a tipping point, one in which he’s decided to show the people how he really feels about this and that and everything in between. In this interview, The Champ touches on injuries, world titles, Olympics, wavepools, retirement, and more. Either watch the full video above or read our favorite parts below.
*Quotes have been paraphrased in order to fit the print medium.
On his injury: I am carrying a serious back problem, one that I’ve had for a couple 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 few days that I don’t surf because my back hurts so bad. I’ve got pretty bad scolisosis, so I have this imbalance where I’m short on one side and long on the other. Because surfing is so assymmetrical — you go one way with on stance — the muscle use is really imbalanced, so it exaggerates the curve. It’s the same thing with golf, so I try to swing the other way a little bit too.
On surfing switch: I think it’s a good practice for the brain. You have to think How do I do this? Oh, right. You put this here and that there. I actually want to take 2 months and only surf goofy, just to see how quickly or slowly I would advance. I was just talking to someone recently about how I rarely get hurt when I fall, but that’s because my body and mind know how and to do it, but only when I’m regular foot. I find when I fall goofy foot, everything is backwards. I have the worst wipeouts on 2 foot waves.
On kids: Kalani and I have thought about kids… You’re really putting me on the spot [laughs].
On the wave pool: The idea that you’d want a different board in a (freshwater) wavepool is a complete myth. Once you get up to planing speed, you don’t need bouyancy. Buoyancy only matters when you don’t have enough speed. Nat Young came and the first thing he said was “There’s no difference. I thought there would be a huge difference but there was no difference.”
We can make a big, incredible wave, it’s just about money really. We want to build in sections that appeal to everyone, so we have to construct a bottom that would suit everyone’s surfing. The average person surfing this won’t be a high-level guy, they’ll just cruise and do cutback and want to feel the speed, so we need to take that into account.
If we made the wave go in both directions, you could run waves right after another. But because it only runs one way, you have to wait for the sloshing to settle down. Honestly, you couldn’t ride a wave right away after you finished one. If you’re getting barreled it’s not that bad, but if you’re doing turns your legs just get so tired. I’ve had days where I’ve only caught 3 waves and been like “OK I’m good”.
On the Olympics: I’m middle of the road really, I see good and bad. I don’t have much of an opinion, I could make an argument for either side. I think the best surfer is decided from a number different waves and sizes and conditions, and you don’t have that in one contest, almost ever. But it does bring up the question of a wavepool as an option. It wouldn’t allow for everyone to experience the wide range of conditions that we see on the CT, but it would allow everyone to ride the same wave. When you have this consistent playing field like a wavepool or a skate ramp, you can really break down each aspect of the surfing. You can criticially analyze the best turn, air, tube, and ride overall. I’ve thought about this a lot, how a wavepool would probably change certain aspects of how you judge a wave. In the ocean there’s a lot of luck and chance involved. There might be a sneaky inside barrel, or a big one that somebody else is afraid of, lots of variables that play into the way judges may give a score. Japan can be epic, but it could also be flat. I would think that if they wanted to use a pool for Tokyo 2020, they’d need to have the pool a year or two before the start date, just to make sure there are no kinks in it.
On the BWWT: I’d like to do a couple big wave events. I was going to do Jaws last years, but gosh that looked scary as hell. But I had been surfing the wavepool all day the day before, and I was just beat. I surfed I think 26 waves that day, and they’re all 45 seconds long, so I was cooked.
On his diet: I’m not crazy over-the-top with my diet, but if I get a little loose with it and start eating some fried foods, I’m just like, “OK let’s settle down”. I find when I eat too much food or too many foods I dont feel as good. Theres a generation of massively obese people in America, and people follow the SAD (Stand American Diet) just eat terribly. It’s low fat, high carbs, high calorie — pretty much all processed food. I’ve found that the closer to natural your food is and the less amount of foods you eat in your meal, the better. I’ve done a couple master cleanses before. You know, just lemon, maple syrup and water with cayenne pepper. I’ve done that for 10 days with no food. You feel terrible after two days, just full detoxing, but after a few days you feel so much better. Everything seems to clear up. Going on a fast like that makes you respect the food so much more, which inspires you to want to eat better.
On his 12th world title: I feel like I have the ability to win another world title. I wouldnt be here if I didnt believe that. I feel like it’s been obvious that I have better results in good waves than in bad. Some of that is getting outsurfed, but a lot of it is not having motivation. I remember when I was younger I would get so excited to go surf one foot waves in Japan, just because I wanted to win so badly. Nowadays I don’t feel that way unless the waves are good. To win another world title, I think I’d have to feel that way about all conditions. I’d also have to be super decisive, not messing around with my board decisions. Sometimes I’m so bored by the conditions that I need to ride something that makes me feel excited. It might be weird but it gives me that feeling that it could do something special. And that’s just not how you’re going to get results. I’ve talked with Cheyne Horan a lot, and he told me he wishes he wasn’t so stubborn about trying to win by riding weird boards. He wishes he would have conformed to thrusters or whatever.
On retirement: I look forward to it, but I’ll miss the traveling and all the people we see throughout the year.