Ultra Hard Surf Academy.
After Wave-Ki proved to be just as disappointing for me as 2022 was for Conner Coffin, I had nearly given up on my search for the magic bullet that would make me less mediocre without actually requiring me to surf more often.
And then, about three months back, I received a text message from an industry insider that absolutely blew my mind. Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a drill. For the last five years, Kelly Slater has been working in secret on a comprehensive interactive online surf instruction program!
Technically I am breaching the NDA I signed by even disclosing this. Derek and Chas also had some serious questions about the exposure that BeachGrit might face for publicly disclosing something that Kelly does not intend to roll out until he officially retires, which given his performances in the first three events this season, might be imminent if he cannot skate past the midyear cut. Nevertheless, this is sufficiently newsworthy that it has been deemed worth the risk.
The iSarf Program: $later $urf $chool
The Pro Surfer: Kelly Slater
Kelly has been hinting for quite some time that something like the $later $urf $chool (hereinafter “$$$”) has been in the works, stating in interviews that he started writing down the things that he had learned about surfing as early as his first year on tour all the way back in the 20th century (yes, that’s what the kids are calling it these days). This is more than just a book though—it’s a book, an online membership portal with access to hundreds of instructional videos breaking down every Ke11y technique you’ve ever seen him perform on a wave, and even a Q&A portal in which Kelly personally responds to your questions.
You’ll learn about the five different types of waves and how Kelly’s approach to surfing maneuvers changes according to the wave type. I also had no idea that there were six different types of barrels and that your barrel riding stance, both front side and backside, needs to change according to each.
If that weren’t enough to get you to open your wallet and give all your hard-earned cash to Kelly, $$$ gives you an interactive mechanism to apply all this knowledge with a game changing immersive experience using a VR headset and hand controllers compatible with Oculus Quest 2, HTC Vive, and Valve Index VR headsets (sorry all you PlayStation VR owners, but Kelly thinks you are a bunch of worthless peasants and refuses to support Sony’s hardware).
The surf training potential here is virtually (pun intended) unparalleled in comparison with any other offering. The $$$ proprietary GOAT Vision VR software reliably models the waves at world renowned surf breaks Kelly has famously surfed such as Pipeline, Cloudbreak, G-Land, Snapper, Lowers, and the South Side of Seal Beach Pier (look, I didn’t blow that spot up—everyone else already did, and the surf almost always sucks there) so that you can have the experience of virtually surfing these breaks while also receiving real-time feedback to correct your wonky and inefficient surfing technique.
There is also a proprietary surfboard-shaped VR controller in the works tentatively called the “GOAT Stick” that will further enhance this VR experience. Though still in development, the GOAT Stick can reliably determine your foot placement, heel/toe and front foot/back foot pressure, and rail grab location. This is expected to cost upwards of $4,000, but you know you are going to buy one when they come market. I certainly will.
And, even without the benefit of the GOAT Stick (which I am absolutely buying), I can tell you that the combination of Kelly’s omniscient surf knowledge coupled with being able to virtually surf waves like Pipe I’d otherwise have no business paddling out at certainly works as advertised.
Without having to skate around soccer cones like a T-Rex as required by OMBE or perform surf katas as required by Wave Ki, my surfing started to improve almost right away. I immediately recognized why I was cutting my turns short and what I needed to do with my body positioning and hand/arm placement to rip some big arcing turns, just like Kelly! Whereas I hadn’t blown the tail at the apex of any of my turns since I was a teenager, I am now blowing it like an industrial-grade fan.
$$$’s offering is not just limited to surfing technique either. If you are an aspiring professional surfer or are one of those weirdo parents homeschooling your kid and harboring delusional expectations that your little grom will become the next Kelly Slater, $$$ also goes into detail about Kelly’s strategies for competitive surfing.
You’ll learn about time management in heats, cheeky priority exploitation, and influencing the judges both in and out of the water to ensure that you get consistently overscored and your opponents are underscored. Kelly’s famed “mind games” are also heavily featured, including baiting your opponent into give up priority via offering a high five and asking your opponent sitting in priority whether he is going left at a righthand pointbreak as he is paddling for a set wave.
Some of these techniques can also be used to great effect even outside of competition to ensure that you get more waves and that the other surfers in the lineup are positively tickled by your humor. For instance, the gentlemen sitting at the top of the point at Steamer Lane were genuinely appreciative of my use of the aforementioned “going left” question the last time I spent a weekend up in Santa Cruz. I made a lot of friends that day.
The pricing for the $$$ program is TBD, but there’ve been rumblings of a one-time initiation fee of $10,000 USD and then $250 per month thereafter. All totally worth it.
For years, I had assumed that my surfing ability had plateaued and that the commitments and rigors of staying gainfully employed would not permit me to spend the kind of time in the ocean that would be required to actually reach that elusive next level. But I am here to tell you that the magic bullet exists.
It might be a lifetime before we truly grasp the impact that Kelly has had on surfing. In the 90s, he convinced the world that something like a 6’3”x17”x2.25” board that only Kelly was capable of riding was the best possible equipment you could buy. In the 00s, he convinced the world that a stubby 5’11” quad was the equipment to be using at Pipe. In the 2010s, he convinced the world that Adriano de Souza didn’t exist by unveiling his wave pool mere days after de Souza was crowned world champion and thereby making everyone forget about poor Adriano. All of these things, obviously, were never true, but we believed them anyway.
And as you likely have surmised unless you are just hopelessly dense, none of the foregoing is true either. But since I’ve attached Kelly’s name to it, you’re going to believe it anyway on some level. And that’s because you want to believe it, even though you understand full well that this is a complete and utter fabrication. Hell, even I want to believe that $$$ is actually a thing.
Because ultimately, everyone wants to believe in the snake oil, even when they know it isn’t real.
It is for this reason that peddling the snake oil will always be a lucrative business opportunity provided that you can manage to stay away from outright embezzlement and avoid administrative scrutiny over the false representations that you make to your investors.
I will therefore conclude with one final proposition: Ultra Hard Surf Academy?