Surfing: Kelly Slater Reincarnate

Outside magazine, July 1994


Surfing: Kelly Slater Reincarnate
By Todd Balf (with Derek Rielly)


In the April Bacchanal they call the Rip Curl Pro, aka the Association of Surfing Professionals season opener, American Kelly Slater aced the four- to six-foot waves at Bells Beach near Melbourne, Australia, and looked poised to reclaim his position atop the surfing world. Slater, who in 1992 became the youngest world champion ever, suffered from a disappointing season last year, amid such distractions as a regular gig on the TV show Baywatch, a pending wedding, and his mother's incessant letter-writing to surf magazines defending her son against criticism that he'd sold out. Well, what a difference a year makes. At the Rip Curl Pro, despite such beachside distractions as an excitable bloke who hoped to entertain the crowd of 2,000 by briefly setting himself afire, Slater stayed focused. Up against Martin Potter in the final, he matched the veteran's power game with darting, tail-sliding recovery maneuvers. Fans and critics alike say it was the first time in a long time they'd seen him surf to his scary potential.

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