And always travels with a knife! Who knew?
The 11-time world surfing champion Kelly Slater, shunned by the New York Times yesterday in its list of greatest-ever athletes still competing in their harvest years, has made a startling revelation in a sprawling interview to celebrate his latest collaboration with Breitling watches.
“Watches are important for me because of what I do,” says Slater. “We surf 30 minute heats generally, though I can surf up to almost 50 minutes at a time.”
Fifty minutes! Gruelling.
Anyway, the Champ has collabed on the limited edition (1000 of em made) Superocean Automatic 42 Kelly Slater which features a vivid orange face and costs US$4900.
“…we started talking about watch designs, and I said, ‘Oh my dad when I was a kid had this orange-faced dive watch.’ One day for some reason after having the watch for 20 years he decided to buy a different band for it. And we went surfing the next day and it fell off his wrist and he lost it. He went diving a few days later to look for it and couldn’t find it. So it was a really important thing in his life. I forget if his dad gave it to him or something, but it was a heartbreaker for my dad. So the orange colorway on this watch is definitely inspired by that as an homage to my father. “
Slater also reveals he travels armed, “I always have a knife”, packs a head lamp in case of emergency and says he’s gonna move hell and high-water to get into the US Olympic Team for the 2024 Paris Games, the surfing being held at Teahupoo.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was on my mind. Because the location of the next Olympics is a spot I’ve probably had my first or second best results in my career — it’s in Teahupo’o in Tahiti. France is hosting the Olympics and they’ve chosen to take it down to Teahupo’o — I’ve won that contest like six or seven times. It would be really great to try to make that team. They only took two people from each country in the last Olympics, and they’re going to take three from a couple this time — including the U.S. I honestly think the qualification is potentially harder for me than winning the Olympics. If I can get in there I think I’d have a shot at winning the Olympics in 2024. And I’d be 52, so I’d be one of the oldest Olympians in that game.”
The interview wraps with an insight into Slater’s considerable environmental bona fides.
“When I got into eating healthy in my early 20s, that’s kind of in line with the health of the planet. When Twitter came out, I got in this algorithm where I started following a bunch of people who were raising awareness for environmental issues, and I started to learn a lot more about that — especially in regards to clothing. I didn’t know the impacts of the clothing and fashion industries on the problems in the environment. You know rivers being dyed blue or red because of dye being used in clothing and the effects that has on the world. The desert in Chile…they’re just literally dumping untold numbers or acres of used fabrics and textiles from the clothing industry. There’s a big wasteland that they’re basically just dumping in the desert. It’s really wild to see. And most of the people who work in the fast fashion industry around the world and in factories, they’re not well taken care of, there’s not very good safety measures, they don’t have good working conditions, often times they can’t use the bathroom for like the whole day. It’s wild when you hear these stories. It wasn’t until I started following some accounts on Twitter back in 2008 or ’09 that it started to hit home for me. The thing that’s made me the most money in my career has been the clothing industry and I didn’t know much about it so I decided to start getting more involved. I started a company when I was still surfing for Quiksilver. We started a company called VSTR, and then when my time at Quiksilver finished I had already decided about 6-12 months prior that I would start my own brand, which was Outerknown. I started to kind of formulate behind the scenes what I wanted it to be, and social compliance was really number one, even ahead of environmentalism, though they’re kind of hand in hand for me.”