It's an amazing life for Kelly Slater. The 30-year-old Florida native spent his formative years churning up the Atlantic ocean, winning hundreds upon hundreds of Amateur surfing events up and down the Eastern Seaboard. By his teens, the kid was a prodigy the magazines called "the next big thing in AMERICAN pro surfing." A few years later and the kid was living up to the hype taking out his first world title at the age of 20. Ten years and several world titles later, the guy is making millions of dollars, and milking the surfing system for all its worth. Revolt slows down with the Man...
IM: Would it be safe to say that your childhood dreams been answered?
Kelly Slater: Yeah, even more so, you know. Because I always had the feeling inside that I could do it, I could get where I am. But to actually get there's a whole different story. To spend all that time and have everything fall into place just the right way for you, is really more than I can ask for.
IM: You're six times world surfing champion, yet your surfing still needs improvement. What the f-k??
Kelly Slater: Well I'm always working on constantly everything. I never take the approach that I'm doing as well as I possibly can... I always think there's more and I think if you don't have that, you are not driven to be better.... And I want to be better. You know, in five years I want to be better than I am now.
IM: Pipe in Hawaii is one of the most challenging waves in the world, and you're one of the greatest Pipeline surfers ever... How did you manage learning that spot and surfing it so well, coming from Florida?
Kelly Slater: I've just put the time in. (you just) Get in the water. Your surfing can get better on every turn, on every wave you catch. Learn to read the ocean better. A big part of my success has been wave knowledge. I feel like I've done well at Pipeline more than anywhere else cause I know the wave... That has been my school, right there. I've studied that wave. That wave has been my passion since I was a little kid... The wave never stops challenging you... I feel like I'm at the peak of my ability to surf Backdoor... When I know there's a good backdoor wave and I'm paddling out, I'm shaking... As soon as I make it out of a barrel I want to catch the next wave.
IM: Describe what you're going through deep inside one of this amazing Pipeline barrels?
Kelly Slater: I don't know... it just looks like there's a hole ahead of you and you've got to climb through it. There's this hole and it's trying to get away from you and you're trying to get through it then the wave spits and you don't see anything (laughs).
IM: You're never really hanging out in Cocoa Beach anymore. Would you say you're still a local?
Kelly Slater: I'll tell you what; I'm not even one of the local guys anymore at my home spot. I don't even surf there anymore. I mean, I want to, I'm just never home. I go there and it's a whole new crew of kids that I don't know... but I'm sure they're surfing good. When I was a kid I used to beg guys out there for waves, now I'm taking my turn when I have my chance.
IM: You stopped competing full time after you nailed your sixth world title. What was it like taking time off from the world tour and focusing on you?
Kelly Slater: I have more time. I'm not so stressed out about having to be obligated to be any certain place... I'm able to follow the waves when they're good. It's really like a dream. Being on tour was a dream when I was a little kid... Now I'm able to basically just follow the surf. Follow where it's good that's what I've been trying to do this year, and I think I'll do more of next year (2000).
IM: What would you do to escape?
Kelly Slater: Go fishing with Al Merrick (his surfboard shaper)... We'd just go off in the middle of nowhere with no people and no noise, and we'd just fish.
IM: Speaking of fishing, do you prefer barrels or busting airs?
Kelly Slater: Barrels.
IM: Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
Kelly Slater: Probably in Hawaii. I'll probably end up retiring in Hawaii. Ten years from now? Maybe married by then. I hopefully won't have to work. Have some kids and just have fun everyday.
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