Still seventeen, he looked a lot older that afternoon. Haunted by the cascade of media and sponsor attention he was already getting. Having to change his family’s home phone number all the time because of the fan girls that were stalking him. Shit like that. A Universe of adult concerns and expectations orbiting around him like space trash.

Surf journalist revisits infamous Kelly Slater profile “He sleeps like an angel” from 1989, “He and his family were just getting by, sleeping on mattresses on the floor of a small rented house at the back of Cocoa Beach… Kelly and I shared one of those mattresses…”

"Still seventeen, he looked a lot older…A universe of adult concerns and expectations orbiting around him like space trash."

He could retire as world number one and our once and present King of Pipeline.

He could obtain any wildcard he wanted if he got the itch in the future.

Trestles is a Brazilian trampoline park at this point, so Kelly doesn’t have to prove anything there during kiddie hour at the end of the year.

But even if he presses on, and what a wonder that would still be, every time I watch him surf, and especially during his marvel at the Billabong Pro on I am reminded of this portrait I shot that was to accompany the first SURFER cover story I wrote about Kelly.

He was seventeen years old and just about to make the jump to professional hyperspace. But at the time he and his family were just getting by, sleeping on mattresses on the floor of a small rented house back by the canals of Cocoa Beach. Kelly and I shared one of those mattresses, which was cool with me because like him, I too grew up in a house full of brothers.

And so was created that most famous of opening lines in any feature written about Kelly, “He sleeps like an angel”.

Since then I have always felt like a distant Uncle of Kelly. And during my many years as a senior editor/writer/portrait photographer at SURFER, I always defended and protected Kelly in the media.

I still do.

The shit he caught for Baywatch always made me angry. Yeah, sure…you try it and then woo Pamela Anderson into being your girlfriend.

Anyway, I needed a portrait of Kelly to go with the feature and he wanted to go down to his local beach and climb all over a fishing trawler that had run aground. So we clambered up on top of the thing and talked for awhile about his upcoming eighteenth birthday and how serious adulthood was and of how much things were going to change for him. Still seventeen, he looked a lot older that afternoon. Haunted by the cascade of media and sponsor attention he was already getting. Having to change his family’s home phone number all the time because of the fan girls that were stalking him. Shit like that. A universe of adult concerns and expectations orbiting around him like space trash.

As the sun set over his home town he got real quiet and then said, “I guess I’m gonna have to figure out how to control some things”.

That is when I shot this photo and came up with the title I was going to use for the feature The Seduction of Kelly Slater.

Back at SURFER, there was a disconnect with the art director.

For the story, the art director ran some photo of a 16 year old Kelly smiling and joking around in the beach showers at Sebastian Inlet after a surf.

To me it was an accidental metaphor for how the surfing world misunderstood the pressure this kid was under. And in my opinion, the pressure he still is.

I believe that had they run my portrait, this portrait, everyone would have taken a deep breath, given the kid a break and from that point forward, raised Kelly in the media as less a messiah and more a human being.

Question: Will world’s greatest surfer Kelly Slater’s hyper-competitiveness, quest for a 12th title, overwhelm his very public vaccine hesitancy?

Some rumored evidence.

The world’s greatest surfer, and recently crowned Pipeline Pro, Kelly Slater turned 50 years old today, or yesterday, and what a story he is early on in this 2022 World Surf League Championship Tour season. Slaying opponents at the globe’s “most dangerous wave,” appearing tan, rested and ready for the long run.

He is number one in the rankings, heading into the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach, with the Australian leg to follow.

Slater (second from right) in very cute personalized GOAT gear on his birthday. Photo: kalanimiller Instagram
Slater (second from right) in very cute personalized GOAT gear on his birthday. Photo: kalanimiller Instagram

Now, students of the game will certainly be aware that the land down under cares not for pedigree, for athletic excellence, in the face of a waning Coronavirus pandemic having recently shamed tennis star Novak Djokovic out of Melbourne for his refusal to “take the jab” but will Slater’s noted ultra-competitiveness, his quest for title number 12, overwhelm his own very public vaccine hesitancy?

I received a rumor, yesterday, from a fine source who triple vetted his own sources, that Slater has allegedly already been vaccinated and may be ready to push through Australia’s green and gold gates with no fuss at all.


Adjacent, though, looking at the facts, Slater’s main issue is vaccine mandates, not necessarily the vaccine itself, therefore it would not be hypocritical for him to self-select pharmaceutical intervention.

But what do you think? Does this hot piece of rumor stand to your sniffer?

We will all soon find out, I suppose, in a few short 87,600 minutes.


I think this is Pipeline but it is the image the WSL is using to advertise the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach so....
I think this is Pipeline but it is the image the WSL is using to advertise the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach so....

World Surf League drops heat draw for Hurley Pro Sunset Beach minutes before event set to begin leaving gamblers, those with fantasy prone personality disorder, confused and enraged!

Kelly Slater in heat four!

Minutes ago, the World Surf League released its opening round heat draw for the also minutes away Hurley Pro Sunset Beach. Do you remember when Hurley shifted from a core surf brand to purveyor of men’s grooming products? But also, the draw. Heat one sees Jordy Smith bash against Ryan Callinan and fellow Zef Matthew McGillivray. Heat two, Kanoa Igarashi, Lucca Mesinas, Caio Ibelli. Four, Kelly Slater, who happens to be the greatest of all-time which can be condensed to GOAT, Callum Robson, Barron Mamiya.

On it goes through heat six, where Filipe Toledo will not scratch into waves in front of João Chianca and Kai Lenny, heat eight featuring John John Florence plus Owen Wright and heat twelve which will go unwatched. All fine and good except the League’s decision to drop all this valuable information so late has roiled both gamblers and those who enjoy playing childish fantasy surf-style games as opposed to Surfival League where the draw really doesn’t matter so much.

Now that you know, though, who is looking good?

Did you even know Mark Zuckerberg’s BFF Kai Lenny was in the event?

That might be worth a whole separate post.

More as the story develops.

Happy birthday daddy! | Photo: WSL/Tony Heff

Post-Pipe Pro and Pre-Sunset Power Rankings! “Kanoa Igarashi still owes me a face-punch claim!”


Featuring epic waves and gnarly performances by Rooks, and wizardry from the Bald One, the year’s first contest at The Pipeline was a great one!

Now, quickly, before the next one starts (in less than 40 hours), it’s time to take care of some bookkeeping.

As always, what follows is gospel and must be taken 100% seriously, lest you just decide to be normal.

36. Jadson Andre

Spaz pumping his way to a last place finish. Penalized for losing in a heat with Deivid and Carlos and for Sunset being next.

35. Liam O’Brien

Breaking his leg surfing at Pipe before the event and out for four months (at least), Liam can say “slán” to the Tour. It was fun while it lasted (or didn’t). We’ll always have Rottnest…

34. Ryan Callinan

Another victim of injury, Ryan, who would be looking down slim odds to earn an Injury Wildcard next year, what with Yago and Gabe (more important) out, has decided to surf at Sunset. Hopefully the new wrist plate holds up.

33. Morgan Cibilic

Horribly embarrassing result for Morgs. Is this too harsh? Sure, as harsh as any arbitrary list that has no meaning whatsoever… so not.

32. Jake Marshall

Pipe was truly abysmal for poor old Revolutionary-War-Soldier-Peyton-Manning-Ass looking Jake, with multiple heats (two) with totals below 2.5. Able to pull into barrels, yet somehow never really even being close to exiting, he was able to make good Pipe look like a shitty closeout beachbreak. Truly atrocious.

31. Carlos Muñoz

Surfing admirably, paddling out for his Round of 16 heat after obliterating his shoulder, Carlos’s requalification chances by the cut are virtually nil. Already pulling out of Sunset and Portugal, he’d have to do exceedingly well at Bells and Margs to have a chance. Not likely.

30. Connor O’Leary

Another poor performance for the Cronulla Kid. In his Round of 32 heat it seemed like he kept almost falling on takeoff. Pro tip: get your boards figured out.

29. Nat Young

Looking pretty good in his Round 1 heat, he just couldn’t put it together against Super Mario in the Round of 32, not for a lack of trying (he caught eight waves). Perhaps he used his extra time to apply some dwarf elder water to his face.

28. Jackson Baker

Mr. Freida Kahlo’s ‘Stache is still out there at Pipe perfecting his shiko-dachi tube stance.

27. Deivid Silva

Everyone’s favorite goofy-footed cachorro-do-mato, Deivid surfed his way to a well deserv… a lucky 17th, scoring just 17.76 total points across three rounds (average of 5.92). Why is he rated here then? Because I forgot about him (not an unlikely thing to happen).

26. Owen Wright

As Abraham Lincoln said, “Truth is generally the best vindication against slander.” Truth suggests I was Wright.

25. Imaikalani deVault

Dreadful result for him at the Pipeline. Going to need to avoid stinkers going forward so we can watch him light somewhere up.

24. Callum Robson

Impressive performance by the unheralded Aussie. So impressive that in his Round 1 heat, Kaipo, in a display of his signature pure vegetable brain, asked if Callum could be this year’s Morgan Cibilic. No, probably not.

23. Ethan Ewing

Things could get pretty dicey for Billabong, as more people start to demand refunds for their tickets on the Ewing Hype Train once they realize they had been dropped off in Aussie Journeymanstown instead of Titleberg.

22. Zeke Lau

Got beat by Seth. Sunset should be good for him. That’s it.

21. Yago Dora

Didn’t even know he was injured before Pipe. Oh well, no problem… for me, at least. His call ins to the booth, especially the Elimination Round Heat 2 one, were classic.

20. Matthew McGillivray

To shove in/improve/adjust/mangle a quote from Mel Brooks: “Surfing is like linguini. Even when it’s competently good, it’s pretty bad.”

19. Lucca Mesinas

A surprise quarterfinalist, aided by an undeserved win against K-Hole in the Round of 32 and a walkthrough due to Carlos Munoz’s mutilated shoulder, Lucca’s performance wasn’t as impressive as maybe it should’ve been. Still the QF result is a boost.

18. Leonardo Fioravanti

A ninth? A ma-ma Mia!

17. Samuel Pupo

Nice quarterfinal finish for the young Pupo. A highlight for him was destroying Jordan in the Round of 16. Hopefully once he emerges from his cocoon to begin his imago stage he will start bending his knees during pigdogs instead of simply bending over at the waist to grab rail.

16. Frederico Morais

Perfect embodiment of the fact that there are too many fucking guys on Tour. So many fucking wasted words above… he could do well at Sunset.

15. Conner Coffin

Maybe he was too preoccupied with California while out at Pipe, so he failed… no matter, he is the 805… or something.

14. Caio Ibelli

Always mildly surprised when I watch him how competently he surfs, in a variety of conditions no less. Will need to rack up the points as an injury replacement before Gabe comes back so he doesn’t have to suffer the Challenger Series come the northern hemi fall.

13. Jack Robinson

Disappointing result for Robbo. Would’ve been great to see someone of his immense, prodigious talent get his chance to perform at big, great Pipe like how it was later in the comp. Unfortunately for us, those with his talent can usually overcome their shit heats and grind a couple out. Well…

12. Miguel Pupo

An equal third was Miggy’s best result at Pipe so far in his long, winding(ish) career. Always nice to see him do well… and his sweet grill.

11. K-Hole Andino

Absolutely ripped off in his Round of 32 heat against Lucca, so I’m not going to penalize him. Even though he’s a little too chattery on the face for my tastes (thanks, Fatt), I think he’ll do better at Sunset (a theme among all regular foots, apparently).

10. Griffin Colapinto

Bad start for Griff. He surfed decently in his loss to Caio. Unfortunately for him he didn’t make it out his first wave that heat, as the wave closed out. Still talented enough to keep at bay the thoughts about his future career stocking shelves at Home Depot. Could get it going against an easy opening draw at Sunset (Jackson Baker and Deivid Silva in Round 1).

9. Kanoa Igarashi

Still owes me a face punch claim.

8. Italo Ferreira

Missed opportunity by Italo to light things up and make people forget about Gabe’s absence. To remedy the situation, please more workout videos on Instagram.

7. Jordan Michael Smith

Did well enough to keep his hopes alive for a potential Top 5 finish, and possible Lifetime Achievement Title. Like all the regular-footed guys already listed, probably better at Sunset, which leads to a question: if everyone is supposed to do better at Sunset, doesn’t everyone’s standing stay the same?

6. João Chianca

Prior to the event, I had no idea who he was. Now, as everyone now is aware, too, this guy is a straight up baller. He absolutely killed it out there, dropping into and threading deep Pipe pits. Only problem for young João was running into John John in the Round of 16. His 2.9 in the losing heat was one of the sickest closeouts I’ve witnessed in a comp (granted, once a comp finishes, I don’t really remember anything that happened). Ranking might be a little high, but the level of excitement he brought to the comp was high.

5. Seth Moniz

Well-deserved first loser finish for Seth, a standout all comp, taking down Zeke, Fil, JJF, and Caio in successive elimination heats, the most impressive being JJF in the QF (JJF was probably underscored and Seth overscored, but who cares!). It’s amazing what getting some good waves can do for someone. Results at Bells and non-The Box Margs the only potential impediment to a dream year.

4. John John Florence

Kind of a clunker result, considering how great he is at Pipe. No matter, he surfed wonderfully, even in defeat. Hopefully we get to see him shred on the waves and not, knock on wood, his knees.

3. Filipe Toledo

Holds serve on his way to the 2022 World Championship at Trestles. Dropped a couple spots due to thoughts about the next two guys.

2. Gabriel Medina

The absence of Gabe threatened to overshadow the entire event. Upon the announcement of his withdrawal, I couldn’t help but wonder how would we view the winner’s victory without the Pipe destroyer/overwhelming World Title favorite in the field? Luckily, because the next guy won, that question is just silly and unworthy of asking. Saying that, I can’t help but think things would’ve been different had he participated in the comp, spelunking through Backdoor caverns and flushing out mainline Pipe on his way to a near certain win.

1. Kelly Slater

What can I say about the result for our dear Mr. Robert Kelly Slater, M.D., surfing’s biggest, most beloved and, simultaneously, mocked competitor? Only that it was a most perfect display of almost everything that makes up the Slater Experience: a social media dustup (inserting himself into Joe Rogan Spotify stuff), last-second heroics (Round 16 against Barron Mamiya), personal scorekeeping (speaking after beating Kanoa), killer competitive hijinks (precipitating a Pupo interference), shit talking/shade throwing (stiffing Caio in his after semi interview and interview before the women’s final about everyone but Moana), peaking in a Final to absolutely destroy his opponent (Seth), culminating in being non-committal about a subsequent comp (Sunset). At the head of the pack.

Oh, and happy fiftieth birthday, Jimmy!


Surf feminist hero and arch-enemy of white male “apex predators” slams WSL in continuing longboard imbroglio kicked off by current world champ, “And all as they masquerade as a world leader of gender equality in sport!”

A damning tirade!

The WSL is trying to kill longboarding again and we don’t like it.

In 2019, The Longboard World Tour had new life breathed into it in the form of the creation of a multi-stop tour that went to New York City and a corn field in Spain to be finished off in a hurricane in Taiwan. Devon Howard was also appointed as commissioner in a clear move by WSL to push longboarding into its home of traditional style.

Now it doesn’t matter what Devon Howard does, because WSL is set on deciding world champions in a single event like they do in the CT Finals, except without the 10 preceding events to make it actually interesting.

So now, current World Champion Joel Tudor, who returned to the tour to win the whole thing in 2021 despite being approximately double the age of his rivals, is back to his favourite hobby of calling out the WSL.


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A post shared by Joel Tudor (@joeljitsu)


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A post shared by Joel Tudor (@joeljitsu)

This time it’s taken the form of this being a step backwards in the gains that women have made in competitive surfing.

And he’s got a point.

Chris Cote said on air during women’s Pipe something along the lines of,  “the same waves, the same judging criteria, the same number of events, everything the same”  except for the 50% opportunity that women actually get to compete on the Championship Tour.

It seems to be this readily forgotten detail that the women’s CT has only half the number of surfers of the men.

Over on the longboard tour however, the women’s tour is the same size. In fact, the women’s division is broadly considered the premier division of the tour. And the WSL are prepared to kill it off, giving women even less opportunity to compete.

All as they masquerade as a world leader of gender equality in sport.

So, while Joel Tudor has long been a divisive figure across longboarding, he has an unrivalled ability to call people to action.

If he’s saying fuck the WSL, then loggers across the globe are likely going to fuck it.

He rallied for two decades to make the WSL establish a traditional criteria for the longboard World Tour and in the end they did.

So, while Tudor seems an unlikely ally in the struggle for gender equality in sport, when feminism meets longboarding I am glad he is on our side.