Kelly Slater and Martin Potter, Rip Curl Pro, Bells final, 1994.
The year is 1994 and Kelly Slater is very much in the ascendancy; the young Floridian is not only freakishly talented but also equipped with enough competitive fuel to launch one of the rockets that takes off at Cape Canaveral, down the road from where he grew up.
Slater had already become the youngest world champion ever in 1992, but in 1993 Derek Ho had claimed the crown for Hawaii. In 1994 perhaps it seemed there was still a chance that Slater’s quick march towards total domination could be halted. Martin Potter, who had won his world title back in 1989, was at the forefront of an old-guard (including Gary Elkerton and Sunny Garcia amongst others) who were initially determined to disrupt the destiny of the boy wonder with the cache of new-fangled tricks.
Pottz made no secrets about his rivalry with Kelly and as he reflects on the moment below, it plays like a perfect handing over of the torch moment. We all know what happened next. Kelly won five titles in a row.
“Yeah this was a funny one, Bells finals ’94. I think Kelly won, but it was one of those ones we both over-tried to win so we both fell a lot. It would of looked like no one wanted to win. The handshake? If you knew me back then that’s not how I was, I was more likely to run you over than do that. I think it was that l accepted that this guy was taking over and there was not much we could do about it. I beat him a few times in the beginning, then he had not just mine but everyone’s number. Time to retire boys.” - Martin Potter