Kelly Slater

Eight-time world champion surfer

    Photo: Photograph by Christian Witkin

My whole schedule depends on the surf: my plane flights, when I go to bed and wake up, where I'm going next week. I've slept on a lot of couches.

Baywatch was a joke and I hated it. All I wanted was to be a world champion and recognized as a true athlete. Now my friends can call me Jimmy Slade and it's funny.

Being in that competitive headspace for so long—it can kind of take you away. If you get too consumed by it, you don't always care about people the way you should. It's kind of ironic, that what's driving you can also be the thing that you need to heal.

When you really master something competitively, then it becomes fun. Then you don't need it anymore. Eight titles is a good number. When I'm done this time I'm done for good. I just want to burn that fuse out.

—INTERVIEW BY MICHAEL ROBERTS

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