Today while the Rd 5ers were out at sea, I was taking five behind the webcast cabins with Jake Howard from ESPN who was interviewing Mick. Mick is pretty good in interviews these days, he reckoned Kelly was the greatest surfer anyone’s ever seen, ever. “The ASP’s been going 30 odd years,” he added, “and when Kelly wins here that’ll mean hes been world champ for a third of that whole time. That’s majorly impressive.” After a few more soundbites he left and a middle aged Brazilian man with a twinkle in his eye passed us looking excited.
“Imagine,” he said to us. “If Minheiro beats Kelly it sends the title race to Pipe. Then he beats Jordy in the final, he’ll hand it to Kelly here. Minheiro takes away the title and then gives it back. What an incredible story…”
What I wanted to say was, “Did you have magic mushrooms for breakfast, silly little man?” But I think what came out was more like, “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, Armando.”
Dane Reynolds cost me five bucks in the next heat, QF1. A guy called Mr Endo (real name) bet me 5 dollars Taj would do him. I thought Dane was in blue so cackled and held out my hand for my money just a few seconds after the horn when Dane was coming out of the best barrel of the event, but then something awful happened and Taj came out of that barrel and Dane looked on from the peak in the red lycra. Merde! Endo apparently wanted double or quits on DeSouz – Kel Kel but I’d already taken leave of him, his banter was fairly reeking. I still havent decided if I’ll cough up, gambling is after all frowned up on the Shabat.
A few moments before QF2, the one with the world title implications I asked Dooma Hardman if he was nervous about the next heat. “Bet you’re crapping yourself Dooma.” He chuckled and said he reckoned Adriano would give Kelly a good run. Everybody seemed to be thinking that, me included. Especially after yesterday’s acrimony and bad vibes, the collective will of the non-South American sector of the crowd was that Kelly would get Taylor who would probably lie down.
It turns out that nothing could have been further from the truth. Kelly sprint paddled about 3m wider of DeSouz to snag the opening wave, a sick little backdoor and got bazzed off his shiny nog. Crowd went absolutely batshit. He did it again, and then hucked a healthy air reverse (8 something throw away), meaning it was all over before DeSouz had even paddled for a wave. DeSouz rallied a bit trying hopeful airs and claiming floaters but it was all a bit embarrassing really. Kelly absolutely smashed him, punished him. Annihilated him. Kelly pulled down his little Brazilian school shorts and his size (S) undercrackers and smacked his little botty.
After, in the surfers’ area, there was talk that an angry faced lil’ DeSouza got in the way and the same member of K10’s crew who mentioned a knuckle sandwich yesterday helped him and his boards get immediately out of the way with a timely shove. I like the guy, and he’s always been real friendly to me, we even stayed in the same house in Fiji and he was totally cool as, but from where I’ve been standing he did himself little justice and kind of embarrassed himself with a lack of respect towards the greatest surfer any of us will ever see a couple of times in the last 24 hours, and still didn’t learn his lesson. Oh well.
Moments later, that Spanish chick in denim shorts who was giving it massive large ones and booing Slater’s waves about ten feet away from Quik CEO Bob McKnight just yesterday had a K10 hat on! I fucking knew it!!!! Oh the treachery.
I was watching the webcast screen as Kelly was being hugged and congratulated and noticed Curren went the hand shake rather than the hug and then said something, to which K10 appeared to slightly turn his his head and say ‘whatever’. I went to do a wee a bit later and saw Curren and asked him what he’d said and he just gave me that smile. I noticed he didn’t wash his hands.
That could have been that, he could have called that George and we’d all have gone home happy, but Kelly wasnt done yet. He went on to make the final and destroy Bede, with a 10 and an 8.77. Holy mackeral. By the end of the afternoon, Kelly Slater had won ten world titles and 45 tour events.
There will be a lot of talk about how Kelly ranks among the greatest sports people of all time. Without meaning to take anything away from his amazing achievement today, I have never had any truck with this argument and never will. This is because surfing is not available to the masses, rather a minute (privileged) fraction of the world’s population. If you are the best footballer, fastest runner, best tennis player, etc, you really are the best. We will never know what the billions of Africans for example, or Chinese could have been like at surfing, as they never had the chance to try their hand at it. Trying to wedge him into that list is abit like the Americans calling San Francisco versus Texas at rounders, ‘The World Series’. Anyway, just in case you are confused, here are the 10 greatest sports people of all time:
Notice no golfers or people who drive cars or motorbikes, I said sports people.
Anyway, whatever, Kelly fricken rules. When he came past in the media area for interviews later followed by a massive scrum I just kind of stared at him. He was glowing like some kind of surfing God. I don’t believe in God (or Satan), but I believe in the gods, and I believe in Kelly Slater. How the hell he has managed to do what he’s done and remain a largely normal human is completely beyond me. He should be bitter, injured and really weird and by now. Today was one of those days when you just feel like a fan and lucky to be there, and kind of forget about so-called reporting on what happened. Aside from about a dozen of the surfers and a few other selected humans on that scaffold today, we’re all just a bunch of turkeys running after the great man just hoping to make a living by breathing in his exhaust fumes and pay our mortgages with a bead of his beautiful sweat. The guy is a fucking hero.