Kelly Slater is a beautiful man and a wonderful surfer, but he is also a rascal. It was yesterday announced on the WSL’s website that the 11-times world champion would be taking “one more stab at a title” in 2017. The man is incorrigible.
John John Florence has dominated headlines for well over 48 hours now, and that is quite enough time for any one man to have to himself, newly crowned champion of the WSL or otherwise. Perhaps he should count himself lucky: he’s received far more coverage already than his predecessor, Adriano de Souza, whose parade was shat upon the very day after last year’s world-title showdown with the surprise unveiling of Slater’s new wave pool. But as Kelly climbed up the back of the stage in Peniche on Tuesday and peered over the top of the scaffolding behind Florence and Conner Coffin, one sensed he was again calculating some exquisite bowel movement to unleash from on high.
What has plopped on John John’s head so far has hardly, in fairness, been cataclysmic, but it has had an unmistakable whiff of Slater about it. After clambering about behind the stage like a child who’s no longer the centre of attention, he took to Instagram with a post that was taken by some as a sly dig in the new world champion’s ribs. “Nobody combines all technical and power surfing elements better,” read the caption next to a photo of himself and Jordy Smith, whose elimination in the semi-finals brought the title race to a conclusion. “Best video parts on earth, IMO” — better than John John’s, in other words, View From A Blue Moon, the new Twelve series, and universal “best free-surfer in the world” accolades notwithstanding. This was followed swiftly by a close-up photo looking down into the world-title trophy, where the names of every winner since it was first awarded in 1976 are inscribed. “Zoom in,” he invited, as if to remind us that John John, and everyone else for that matter, still has a long way to go. Kelly Slater – Cocoa Beach, Florida, times eleven.