Kelly Slater is nearing the half-century mark. He’s 48 years old now, an age where a lot of folks are staring down at a big fat belly while doddering carefully around their lives on creaking knees. Backs aching from decades at a desk, pop-ups slow and jerky when and if they go surfing. The days when they moved like oiled cats stretching in the sun are dusty memories, left somewhere on a beach along with their flat bellies, unbloated yet by time and alcohol.
But Kelly. Belly flat! Mind sharp! Knees free of cracks and pops, joints moving like they’re coated in graphite powder! At 48 years old, Kelly Slater is still mixing it up with the best surfers on earth at the best wave on earth. Not only is he mixing up with John John, Italo, and Gabriel, but he’s burning them. Did you see that burn? The one where John John had priority and Kelly just shrugged and said, “Screw it, I’m going!”? Kelly took the barrel and the interference, and he took them happily. I reached out to him to see what was going through his head when he decided to go on that wave. Turns out it was just a bit of fun between two old friends. Granted, it was a bit of fun in a heat at the Pipe Masters, but Kelly surfs on a different plane than the rest of us.