Ask yourself this: if Kelly Slater, the man who has all you want and more, can’t find salvation in the ocean, how will you? | Photo: Four Seasons Maldives

Kelly Slater bares all in rawest interview of career, “The level of detail is incredible. Kelly’s history and insecurities all laid bare. So too his relationships, his rootlessness, his fragility.”

“It’s the most honest depiction of the chaos, contradiction and tortured genius that most of us know as Kelly Slater I’ve ever read.”

What drives you?

What’s the thing that keeps you wide-eyed and restless in long nights, or wakes you from a roiling, sweated sleep?

Our answers, of course, will vary on a wild spectrum of seediness, but I’ll presume that for most of us here surfing forms a large part of your agonies and ecstasies.

I’ve been interrogating surfing recently, as I am wont to do, and most especially after a recent trip to Portugal that took me through the rollercoaster of emotions that only surfing can – bliss, dejection, rage, longing…

The good moments were great. The kind that make me want to upend my life in service of this objectively pointless activity.

But this was marred by unpleasant, crowded line-ups. Deep, vicious tension in the water that escalated on a couple of occasions to punches thrown, boards speared, and drownings simulated.

I loved this area of Portugal once, but I can’t see myself rushing back.

It was infested with the Digital Nomad. Seemingly lacking any self-awareness in and out of the water and joyful in their amateurism. Perfectly happy, or so it seemed, with pearling take-offs and fruitless flirtations.

I listened one day to a conversation next to where I was changing. Some middle-european long-hair was making advances towards a middling girl shoving a midlength into the back of her van. He was showing her the t-shirts he’d made. Just knocked up the designs on someone’s borrowed laptop at the hostel, he announced, like he was Steve Jobs. She seemed genuinely impressed. I can only assume it was the residual decency of human politeness.

But the truth was, I was jealous. I didn’t want to be the embittered veteran. I wanted the simple joy of a new obsession once again. I was envious of their ignorance.

What to do?

Take up something new, leaving surfing to the angry, clueless masses?



In my existential despair, salvation and answers came from paradoxically the most likely and unlikely source.

I found Kelly.

I hadn’t been looking for him. It began by trawling through the archives of Sports Illustrated, specifically the work of Gary Smith.

If you don’t know Smith, treat yourself to some of his archive. In the late 90s and early 00s his deep-dive profiles of the most recognisable figures in sport were revered.

This Smith is the antithesis of our Smith in his approach to journalism. He wrote just four pieces a year, believing it was impossible to produce quality work quicker. His profiles asked Big Questions. The type of questions we’re all searching for the answers to.

A dream gig.

I read a profile of Mike Tyson. One of those rare things with the power to affirm or recalibrate your sense of the world.

Then, hungry for more, I came across a 2009 profile of our own Kelly Slater. It had the uninspiring title “Ready For The Next Wave”.

My instinct was to keep scrolling. Regardless of author, what could I possibly learn about Slater? Smith might be a far superior writer and mind than me, but when it comes to Kelly, I’d back myself.

(The offer to be your biographer remains open, Mr Slater, sir.)

I’ll have missed a few things along the way, like this Smith piece, but I believe I’ve read most of what’s been written about Kelly. But in all that’s been said, there’s very little I’ve actually found insightful.

Endemic surf media fawns over achievements and the way he rides waves; non-endemic coverage gets wrapped up in what surfing is supposed to be, rather than what it is. Much like the remote workers of Portugal’s Atlantic coast.

I’ve often considered that Kelly would be a particularly difficult profile subject. So little of what he says could be seen as objectively true, even when he’s talking about his own thoughts. There’s a chaoticness to Kelly’s mind and existence that I think has left him as confused as anyone else. What is the truth about Kelly? I doubt even he knows.

So on that basis I had little hope for this profile, regardless of the skill of the writer. Kelly will wriggle and squirm and present any side of himself he feels is the order of the day. Kelly controls Kelly’s narrative.

But I was wrong. The Smith profile is masterful.

Somehow, he acknowledges yet palms away all Kelly’s smoke and mirrors. He cuts to the heart of the things that make the man.

For the first time, reading this profile, it occurred to me exactly why Slater’s mind is so unruly. Why does he obsess over conspiracy theories? Why does he get embroiled in tit-for-tat arguments on social media? Why does he jump on every emerging trend or controversial take?

It’s because he feels there must be something else.

If he, a man with a lifestyle of travel, experience, beautiful women, adoration, passion and mastery, is still not content, there must be something else…

Smith identifies Slater’s discontent immediately, and doesn’t allow himself to be derailed by Kelly’s sleights of hand.

The level of detail is incredible. Kelly’s history and insecurities all laid bare. So too his relationships, his rootlessness, his fragility.

It’s the most honest depiction of the chaos, contradiction and tortured genius that most of us know as Kelly Slater I’ve ever read.

But as with all great profile writing, it’s what we can apply to our own lives that’s most valuable. We can’t ever be Kelly Slater (would you want to be?) but we can look at the blueprint he’s created in pursuit of something we also know and love. And we can lay that blueprint over our own experience and see what, if anything, shines through.

We all want to surf more. We think surfing gives us purpose, like it’s going to make us happy.

If all I could do was just surf, things would be great, you’ve certainly thought.

This is the dream. The one we’ve been sold and perpetuated. The archetypal narrative of what it means to be “a surfer”. The one all those crowds in Portugal are chasing: surf all you can, abandon all else. Saviour lies in the waves.

But ask yourself this: if Kelly Slater, the man who has all you want and more, can’t find salvation in the ocean, how will you?

If Kelly still wonders Why, then we know two things – surfing is not the answer, and neither is mastery.

Somehow, one of the most talented, wealthy and handsome men of our lifetime, a god in a sport of kings, is still just trying to find peace.

That’s not only a compelling story, but a valuable lesson for all of us.

"You need some Hurley, my friend."
"You need some Hurley, my friend."

In second stunning win for big wave surfing in as many days, world-famous beard oil purveyor signs on as sponsor of upcoming Nazaré Tow Surfing Challenge!


There is winning and then there is big wave surfing over the last two days. The world of giants is oft a neglected backwater amongst our kind. Oh certainly, we will tune in for a few minute of Jaws competitions and occasionally swoon over video drips from OnlyFans star Nathan Florence but, generally, big wave surfing is lightly considered and, its heroes and heroines, outside the few Kai Lennys and Laird Hamiltons, poorly compensated.

All that is set to radically change, though, after a blistering forty-eight hours.

Yesterday, we learned that the World Surf League is set to turn the XXL portion of its offering over to the Guinness Book of World Records. A major victory for novelty buffs and ten-year-old boys.

Today, we hear that a purveyor of world-famous beard oil is signing on as sponsor of upcoming Nazaré Tow Challenge.

Per the press release:

Hurley, the iconic action-sports brand, announces sponsorship of the World Surf League’s 2022-2023 TUDOR Nazaré Tow Surfing Challenge. The competition will showcase the best of big wave surfing as world-class surfers pursue their quest to capture a ride on big wave surfing’s Holy Grail of waves. The competition will take place at Praia de Norte in Nazaré, Portugal, home to some of the biggest waves in the world; and will showcase the best of big wave surfing in the tow-in discipline.

The competition will feature nine teams made up of two competitors, surfers and jet ski drivers, hoping to make surfing history. Team Hurley is pleased to present its own legendary big wave surfers including Kai Lenny of Hawaii; Nazaré local, Nic von Rupp; and New York icon, Will Skudin. Known for its spectacular waves, including the current Guinness World Record for largest wave ever surfed — a colossal eighty-six-footer — the 2023 TUDOR Nazaré Tow Challenge is sure to be a headline-making event, as contestants may even have a chance to shatter that record during the event. To capture the excitement, Hurley has commissioned local Portugal surf artist, Waves by Johny Viera, to paint the event poster, which will also be available across a limited Nazaré collection of merchandise.

“The Nazaré Challenge is an event where simply making a wave doesn’t mean you’re safe. It is survival the entire time. That being said, pressure makes diamonds and the best rides I’ve ever had out there have been in this event,” explains Kai Lenny. ”Nazaré is the biggest wave in the world, the most consistent, the most dangerous, the most challenging wave. It’s an honor to be in this event, it’s an honor to surf with and against the best big wave surfers in the world. Let the show begin,” adds Nic von Rupp.

Can you picture Kai Lenny with a beard?

Me neither.


As Ivanka Trump declares she is finished with politics, speculation runs wild that former first daughter has developed severe addiction to meddlesome surfing!

No Work City.

It is political season in great America again and, no doubt, you are thrilled to death with the intrigue, posturing, red or blue waves either materializing or not. Thinking about Iowa. Various caucuses. Republicans vs. Democrats for the soul of the free world etc. but where do you find yourself on this exciting spectrum?

Hanging on every chad?

Frustrated when person behind you in line for coffee mentions Nate Silver and his perpetually off prognostications?

Oh, I know you are a surfer, more than anything, and thereby really only care about the issues that relate to us including subsidies for Kelly Slater’s Outerknown, World Surf League tax breaks, Conan Hayes costumery and Ivanka Trump bowing out of politics just as her father announced his presidential candidacy for 2024 in a gilded evening.

The 45th President’s oldest daughter was at Donald Trump’s side, non-stop, during his first term, there helping with policy, being an ambassador and senior advisor etc. but, yesterday, declared, “While I will always love and support my father, going forward I will do so outside the political arena. This time around, I am choosing to prioritize my young children and the private life we are creating as a family. I do not plan to be involved in politics.”

The “private life” they are “creating as a family,” it must be noted, very much involves surfing.

You’ll certainly recall when Trump nearly decapitated her son with a waterlogged soft top in Miami. That might have been enough to shake even the most motivated VAL but, in the months since, the taller blonde has been seen regularly surfing all around greater southern Florida both with and without her children.

Lately, mostly without.

Surfers, everywhere, both understanding and recognizing this affliction, disease as it were. The act of riding waves getting placed above every and anything until the aforementioned “private life” is in shambles.


Light a candle for the children.

George, at right, and Cidco, sexing up Crescent Head.

Sexy Bali hotelier and founder of denim label Ksubi set to transform drab country motel near iconic Australian point into “70’s-inspired surf-club” boutique hotel, “I love surfing and the wave is one of the best in Australia!”

"With artisan-produced furniture and crafts juxtaposing audacious art and progressive thinking."

The gorgeously dishevelled Australian designer turned hotelier George Gorrow, along with model wife Cisco Tschurtschenthale, is set to transfigure the old Crescent Head Resort & Conference Centre five hours north of Sydney into a “70’s inspired surf club hotel.”

Ain’t nothing romantic about the old joint at 30-34 Pacific St, four hundred or so metres from the relatively fun, if undemanding, point that last shot into the news in July, 2021, when a longboarder was hit by a ten-foot Great White.


The old CC resort.


“The 70’s inspired surf club / hotel merges exceptional international design with laid-back surf culture.”

Gorrow and Cisco, who created The Slow in Bali, call the new place SEA SEA.

The sell?

It offers “an acute sensitivity to textures and an irreverence for tradition. 70’s surf-inspired interiors feature throughout, with artisan-produced furniture and crafts juxtaposing audacious art and progressive thinking. The design plays with an abundance of natural textures, with the idea of making you feel immersed in your surroundings. The rooms will feature world-class minibars, and 24hr in-house radio curated by Reverberation.”

A hotel for me is like this concept, and for me, the hotel now can be the place, not just a bed you use to sleep in while visiting a town,” says Georgie. “The hotel can be the key experience. This is what drives me, this is the experience I seek, and the experience I try to deliver all the different aspects of the hotel through 360-degree experience.”

Sexy, yeah?

SEA SEA opens in May, 2023, bookings start in December, 2022.

Thanksgiving comes early for Quiksilver, RVCA and Billabong workers as CEO of parent company announces mass-sackings in lead-up to takeover, “Losing talented employees is always difficult and I want to recognize the departing staff for their contribution”

Moving forward!

Any day now, a press release, dressed in florid prose, will detail the symbiotic relationship between the Authentic Brands Group and its new buy, Boardriders Inc, the parent company of Quiksilver, Billabong and RVCA. 

Boardriders Inc is currently majority owned by Oaktree Capital, an American global asset management firm, but is in the process of being bought, or so we are told, by Authentic.

Wild, of course, that in the last couple of decades, those two great Australian icons Quiksilver and Billabong, have become little more than a logo and a bit of goodwill, play things for asset managers. 

RVCA is even more interesting. Its co-founder Pat Tenore, one of the canniest cats in the biz, turned the surf brand into a pivotal player in MMA, then sold out for thirty-seven mill, having bought out the other founder, Conan Hayes, a well-known man in election circles, for seven and a half mill in 2011.

Anyway, Boardriders CEO Arne Arens announced today that 170 jobs are gonna be cut “to enable the company to respond nimbly to the market and its customers in the face of an uncertain and changing economic landscape.”

In a statement sent to Shop-Eat-Surf, Arens said 110 jobs were slashed in the Americas and 60 in Asia-Pacific. 

“Losing talented employees is always difficult and I want to recognize the departing staff for their contribution to Boardriders. Moving forward, we are fully focused on setting Boardriders up for success,” said Arens. 

Enjoy the turkey stuffing, kids!