Can Kelly Slater crush the burning ember of John John's youth? Let's tune in!
Do you remember Mr. Rielly’s story last week, wherein Justin Jay spilled the beans about la casa de Kelly? How Slater, a 45-year-old conspiracy theorist, felt the need to school young Jackson Dorian on proper chess theory? Not out of patronage, apparently, but for the sheer joy of being right. Of winning. Of publicly demonstrating his unwavering global-competence despite a slowly deteriorating mind and body.
Well it turns out there’s another game he’s unwilling to concede to persons of youth… the Banzai Pipeline!
Today marks the start of the Volcom Pipe Pro waiting period, an event that combines the good waves of the Backdoor Shootout and the production quality of the WSL.
Since it’s inception in 2011 (it was previously the Monster Energy Pro) the VPP has only had two victors — 4x champ John Florence and 2x champ Robert Slater. While Johnny’s got the upper hand in numerical terms, Kelly’s 2016 victory makes him the big swinging dick of the event.
So, what makes an old fart like Kelly so keen to slug it out in a QS 3,000?
Two things: Pipeline and pride
Kelly has long declared his mission to maintain strength and dexterity enough to surf Pipeline into his nineties. Seems far fetched, but Laird says he’ll live forever so I guess anything is possible. That said, Kelly has a deep-rooted passion for Pipe and becomes agitated when others play in the sandbox without him. That’s a feeling I can relate to but imagined would subside by my mid-30s. Kelly was not so lucky in that regard.
The main reason he refuses to miss the Volcom Pipe Pro is the same reason he won 11 world titles. He’s a ruthlessly competitive motherfucker who is driven by an insatiable need to be the best. It’s important to note that Kelly’s not Trumpish in his pursuit of victory. He’s not a win-at-all-costs, shut-down-negative-media-sources, piss-on-Andy’s-grave type. He wants his competitors to do their absolute best, force him to raise his level, and then defeat them straight up.
In that sense, I think a contest like this could be more important to him than another world title. Because of John John.
Kelly’s fascination with simultaneously uplifting and belittling the John is amazing to watch. JJF finally got his title but has also lost most major heats against the King. They had a final at the Pipe Masters and a semi at Chopes that will go down as one of the best evers, and Kelly got him both times. John snuck a win at the 2015 VPP, but the waves were small and tricky, so he likely didn’t feel that was a proper victory.
Kelly wants John in giant, pumping surf. Surely he’d prefer man-on-man, but the four-man Volcom system will have to suffice, as it’s one of only two chances they have throughout the year to share the water at Pipe.
As of now, the forecast looks tricky. North-turning northeast swell for the first part of the waiting period, followed by a solid West-northwest swell, which would typically be perfect for Pipe, were it not plagued by the currently forecasted Kona winds.
Either way, these guys want nothing more than to meet each other in the final. John seeks to take the throne once and for all, while Kelly strives to retain his alpha status into eternity. My mind says John, but my heart adores Kelly’s ageless defiance to no end. Also a Mason victory would be a nice trade off.
Comp’s off today but peep the video below for a proper hype-up!