Luxuriant launch parties and plans to save the world but no wins for Slater.
It's a big deal when Kelly Slater comes to town. On route to WA Kelly swung by Bondi where he had the Paparazzi sniping and the local girls gossiping, "Oh my God I saw Kelly at Breakfast this morning." Restaurants boasted they'd hosted surfing's biggest celebrity and a few sharp-eyed groms spotted incognito Kelly and scored autographs. Nobody saw him surf though. He was happy to hang with the well heeled hipsters but a paddle in the Bondi slop was perhaps beneath him.
Slater was in Sydney to launch the David Jones range of his label Outerknown. DJ's with its classic brand values and iconic status lends the kind of distinguished air to Slater's label that he wouldn't get in the average suburban surf shop. Being alongside high end brands like Paul Smith and Hugo Boss in DJ's also helps him justify the price tag. Items in the DJ's Outerknown range are priced at between $110 and $380.
Kelly was also determined to ensure his launch party had an aristocratic flavour. A water-front, Vaucluse mansion was hired and around 100 media and guests invited to sip champagne by the harbour and discuss the sustainable values of Outerknown.
According to one source, Kelly talked about plans to clean up the infamous plastic island that has formed in the Pacific. Apparently Kelly floated the idea of recycling the plastic into clothing material.
While his plans to save the world are genuinely commendable Kelly's battle to save his competitive career continues. In windswept Main Break rights he couldn't find a solid back up against Kolohe Andino in round one and in round two against Leo Fioravanti the moves that have served him so well in the past didn't pay off. The patented carving 360 only got half way round, the Hail Mary air reverse attempt was just a prayer and he couldn't summon the mysto wave he needed to score a 9.77 by heat's end. Not even returning to Simon Anderson craft could save him.
The loss to Leo would have hurt all the more because he is the step-son of Stephen Bell, Kelly's cornermen for so many years. As there was when Kelly was beaten by Stu Kennedy on a Kelly Slater Designs board at Snapper there was a bizarre sense of being devoured by his own.
"I just can't seem to get it together," he confessed frankly after the heat. For Kelly it might seem like he's a superhero whose magical powers have suddenly deserted him but others pointed to more practical explanations. Kelly's tendency to show up to events late and do minimal preparation recently prompted one high profile coach to suggest he only has himself to blame for his slump in form.
Kelly was once able to stay ahead of the pack by being the most professional and dedicated surfer on tour but the competition have stepped up their training and preparation dramatically. After early losses at Bells both John John and Adriano headed straight to Margarets to practice, launching airs and not clothing lines was their primary concern.
Kelly's commitment to making his brand a benchmark for sustainability is commendable but right now his position on the tour is Outerknown.