"Sometimes I think about how we don’t know if we have life beyond this life, this one chance…"
As the world’s greatest ever athlete Kelly Slater pushes further into his fifties it’s reasonable to expect him to pick his fights a little more carefully. No man is immortal, after all, not even a surfer who was unbeatable at his peak twenty years ago.
And, so, when dawn broke on January 22 and Waimea Bay was the biggest anyone had ever seen in recent memory, Slater gave, as Chas Smith reported, “a rare look into his vulnerability” when he pulled out of the Eddie, gifting his spot to lifeguard Chris Owens.
Now, in an interview with Forbes on the back of season two of Apple TV+’s Make or Break, which naturally opens with Slater’s win at Pipe last year, the almost-fifty one year old admits,
“I’m afraid of drowning, and of getting a really bad injury on a shallow-water reef riding a big wave, both realistic dangers…I’m probably becoming more philosophical as I get older, choosing my battles a bit differently.”
For a man who lives his life with a savage vitality, Slater often appears as a man searching for a purpose to his existence.
“Sometimes I think about how we don’t know if we have life beyond this life, this one chance, so you should do all of the things you can possibly do to achieve as much as you can now,” he says. “I’m better at surfing than anything else, so I just keep doing it.”
Interestingly, given the recent hoo-ha over “100-foot” waves, most recently at Cortez Bank where the waves weren’t even half that size, Slater tells his interlocutor,
“I don’t know that anyone has done it yet. The problem is not riding the wave, it’s finding one that’s 100 feet…(Nazaré), those are giant waves, but I don’t necessarily view them as great. ”
Even more surprising, is his take that ocean trumps pool for bettering skills.
“Well, for having a consistent ride over and over, a wave pool makes sense. You know what you’re going to get, and you can practice that one thing, like at a skate ramp or on a ski slope or climbing wall. It’s that repetition. Bu…the best place to learn is the ocean, how to deal with people, different situations and danger.”