Kelly Unveils the First 'Slater Designs' Surfboards
And they look... well, interesting!
Yes, it's all very interesting indeed, because for the first time in his long and illustrious surfing career -- and short, not yet quite so illustrious business career -- Kelly Slater will be surfing and selling surfboards that bear his own name and brand logo. It's a predictably bland sort of logo, neither very inspiring nor offensive, but nicely in keeping with the sci-fi aesthetic of the boards themselves. These are odd-looking things, some round of nose, others serrated of tail, all luminously white and divided by a thick black stringer -- which consists of "aerospace composite", apparently. They look like they've been built for use on an interstellar space highway of some sort . . . or perhaps just in an artificial wave pool.
Other names that appear on the boards are Tomo and Webber, which is interesting because neither is Al Merrick, and also, tangentially, because the latter is one of Slater's main rivals in the artificial wave market. Between them they've designed the three models in the first line of Slater Designs, which we're told is to be released sometime this Spring, possibly April.
Interesting also, because the boards hit the market at a time when people are questioning the look and feel of what's under Slater's feet more than ever before. Presumably he'll be surfing his new contraptions in competition this year, because if not it will be plain he's gone and made a load of boards that don't work nearly as well as the Al Merricks he's ridden for most of life. And yet if he surfs them but surfs them badly -- a distinct possibility, not necessarily because of anything board-related but because he'll be 44 come Snapper -- then he'll be open to the same criticism.
The whole Slater Designs venture, incidentally, is distinct from but seemingly intertwined with Slater's share in Firewire Surfboards. The aerospace composite stringers are a borrowing from Firewire's Linear Flex Technology, while the combination of EPS blanks and entropy bio-resins employed by Slater's new boards is what drew him to Firewire in the first place.
The Sci-Phi (left, right and centre), designed by Daniel Thomson
The same model that Slater can be seen riding in the wave pool clip, this is the small wave specialist of the three, and Kelly rides it in 5’10" x 18 3/8" x 2 1/4", with 25.8L of volume. The tail outline looks funky as fuck; if anyone's able explain the practical benefits of an "inverted round tail curve" round tail curve, do tell. Very flat through the tail, apparently, with several pronounced channels running almost the length of the board.
The Omni, designed by Daniel Thomson
An everyday board for everyday waves; Kelly likes his 5'3 long, 18 3/4" wide, 2 5/16" thick and 28.8l full. Conceptually daring, courageously minimal, this one's all to do with a planing hull or something, and could perhaps be described as Slater's Phillip Glass model. The green triangle looks pretty rad.
The Banana, designed by Greg Webber
You've seen Kelly surf this board, and seen him surf it pretty well too -- it was the one he rode at Pipe, his measuring 5'10 x 18 3/8" x 2 1/4" with a volume of 25.8l. Harking back to the banana boards of the '90s, it's made primarily for the tunnel.