Reminder: Have Fun

| posted on July 20, 2011

Kelly Slater, exactly where he wants to be. Photo: Glaser

Shea Lopez

The author of SURFER’s Top 32 Review, Shea Lopez spent 11 years competing on the World Tour and now reigns as our resident expert on the pro surfosphere.

What made you become a surfer? Was it for the glory, fame, and/or money? Not likely. Most surfers who gain any form of glory, fame, or money through the act of riding waves were way too young to have had any of those things on their minds during the early stages of becoming a surfer anyway. My first picture of me surfing is standing on my dad’s longboard, wearing only a diaper—of which I have zero memory.

So why do we love to surf so much? Because it is fun, pure, cleansing, challenging, frustrating, and totally different everyday, every season, even every wave.

Take the plight of Kelly Slater presently: He’s still the world title favorite for 2011, but an epic swell in Tavi, along with pitiful surf at J-Bay, just saw him choose perfection over obligation and a lifelong pursuit to win at all costs.

Would a top ranked golfer ever elect to stay at Pebble Beach for a few more practice rounds in perfect conditions, while simultaneously missing the Torrey Pines tournament because it wasn’t going to be as good?

Not a chance.

What about a tennis player, would one ever pass up a tournament because another court was going to play better that week?

Highly doubtful.

Is their even such thing as a golfer or tennis player that is just as good or better than the competing athletes, but elects to chase perfection and freedom over competition and structure?

I don’t think so.

As surfers we are some of the luckiest humans on the planet. I still remember the day I woke up and no longer had any interest in playing organized team sports. I count my lucky stars for that decision every day, especially when I see guys that were better athletes than me grinding it out at home with their massive beer bellies in place of a long gone six-pack.

With surfing the lines have always been blurred between the best competitor and best freesurfer, but never the ones having the most fun. That honor goes to the lucky ones who are experiencing their very first ride on a wave. It’s the feeling we get as beginners on 1-foot waves that keeps us coming back for a lifetime in an attempt to duplicate those emotions, even as we progress to 20-foot Cloudbreak in hopes of getting our fix.

Thanks Kelly for reminding everyone out there it is about nature, and the bond we share with her every time we go in the water—especially on those once-in-a-lifetime swells that are worth missing just about anything for. And thanks too, Dad, for lying about all those dentists appointments at school when the surf came up so I could join you for all the great memories.

Unlike J-Bay, Fiji hasn't seen too many lay days recently. Just ask Kelly. Photo: Glaser

  • Mik

    All true, but let’s not lose perspective:

    1. Tennis courts are the same every day—but surfable waves are incredibly fickle. And since wave quality escalates with size, power and form, the playing field becomes more interesting in better waves. Even a top pro golfer would prefer Pebble Beach over miniature golf in Orlando.

    2. Kelly didn’t go to J-Bay because his position with Quiksilver is more than secure. 10 World Titles tends to generate that kind of leverage, ya? The guys on tour hoping to beat him this year are definitely in Saffa, and they’re all stoked that Kelley isn’t. Besides Kelly has a throwaway contest, and 2-4 ft Jeffrie’s might as well be it.

    Just sayin.

  • revelstone

    Pro surfers are freaking lazy…most have never worked a day in their life and lack the work ethic of most other pro athletes.They think they are rock stars but most learned to surf from a really young age and that is all they can do.Most cannot even have a proper conversation when interviewed without either using the one of the 10 words they know a few times over in the same sentence or recite lines from either Andy or Kelly’s past interviews.give me a parrot speaks better than they do

    The people running it suck at surfing and business so they weazel themselves into running the surf tour which is a disaster as u can see.

    Just go surf and have fun.who cares.Why am i even posting this

  • jay

    i love this post. awesome work.

  • ball sack

    ive slept with kelly before 🙂

  • walter

    Well, starting from the end of your comment… ” go surf and have fun who cares” if you feel better or smarter than a pro surfer you should have got the central idea of the whole writtten article… which is “go surf and have fun who cares” so i guess you agree with it… but I think is lack of maturity and lot of envy which in any case is a really dumb and bad trait to have to critizise and generalize the stereotype of certain people just cuz they seem to have been living the life and lifestyle most people wish the could live, in any case this life or lifestyle is an stereotype as well cuz in several cases ( not all of them of curse) behind the courtains and what all the public can see, theres a different story with a very different reality… check on Andy Irons story….. or any icon the society rises above the average persons from artists to actor or from athletes to politics….

    so is not true that pro surfers havent work a day in their life…maybe they dont work as more of us do in a conventional way but the pressure they have regarding their surfing is enough to make ithem work hard to get better and compete with the other guys trying to make it.. what seems glamorous to you who I assume have a conventional way of living might not be in reality… travel all the time. commitment and pressure from sponsors, pressure from your peers, lot of bad trips where you are tottaly skunked, not to have your family around when you most need them, not to see your friends the fear that and injury would finish your career before even have taken off or before havent secure your retirement, dealing with lonely grifriends or with lot of flings that wont ever make it for a real love… not to grow up in school as a normal kid… mannnnnn it seems like a job to me, fun but a job. and as any job you sacrifice a lot for it. even dealing with looking dumb to people who doesnt even know you just cuz you are tired and only uses the same ten words you know cuz you havent had time to learn more to be busy surfing. and this is a huge generalization. yeah they might seems like rock stars but is you and the people who look at them who have given them that label and rised them to that status yeah they learn to surf at young age not different as muscician or an artitist or actor and commit their life to pursue a career. betting a huge stake ina gambling life when everything could change in a second. they are what they are and they live the life they choose. live yours and go surf and have fun.

    also they can be as stoked to make a section with a no grab air reverse as you can be to make a section with a sick phat floater. and thats the beauty of the sport we all reach the same heights in different ways and we all share the stoke and the aloha and thats what keep us surfing everyday. in the end wwe are all the same we are surfers and we love the ocean and surf. its simple.

  • Doke

    Revelstone: A person who is constantly surfing contest and grinding out points..trying to better their position is not lazy. Every person is lazy in there own way and just because they aren’t working a miserable 9-5 and getting up at the same time every morning…

    Thanks for the quick post Shea…its a nice break to read stuff like this sitting at my miserable desk job. Now if only we could get some more surf over here on the EC.

  • jon Chester

    I think the way he just waited until the last minute was disrespectful to the tour and his fellow competitors

  • Marcelo

    Spot on Shea, he is taking the risk, so be it…

  • Marcos

    That´s the reason of why He is God…
    He has nothing to demonstrate, just wanna surf the best…

  • Jocko Homo

    An important thing to note to those saying stuff like, “If you’re not interested, let someone else have a chance.” – the new ASP rule does just that. Travis Logie got Kelly’s spot when he couldn’t make it, and Dane and Bobby’s spots were filled as well. In Dane and Bobby’s case, I think it was more that they were trying to make a statement about their feelings of the current status of the “Dream Tour” (if you saw the recent video of Dane surfing that perfect right point in Mexico, you’ll have a hard time feeling he was too “injured” to surf). But in Kelly’s case, like Shea said, I think he just wanted to have fun. After 10 world titles and 20+ years (mostly) on tour, I think he’s entitled to a little more latitude that the average touring pro.

    Some people seem to be upset that Travis was sort of kept hanging for a while. For one, Kelly was actually using Twitter with Travis Logie to keep him posted about whether he was coming or not. But also, think of this opportunity like flying standby: yeah, you have to wait and it’s a little stressful. But when you get a spot you’re lucky to be flying at all, and you often get a great spot when you do. In Travis Logie’s case, he was given the lowest seed in the draw, whom he defeated soundly. So, I doubt he’s complaining much about having to play the waiting game.

  • bolweevil

    live and let live, quack quack

  • James jones

    Awsome ! He’s human after all ,surfs pumping and he stayed i respect him even more . This is the reason we all surf , good for you Kelly ! Bet the rest of the CT are jealous !

  • bob deweese

    just totally sucks for my fantasy team, i had kelly on and off my team 20 times, and of course ended up with him on the team. suck

  • grok

    thanks Shea good writing makes me feel happy

  • david

    before WHAT?

  • Austin

    that was a really great post shea. very conceptual and honest

  • tolchok

    Good call Kelly! Don’t leave epic surf to fly half-way round the world for something as stupid as a surf contest -unless you’re a slave and you have to. It shows everyone that the points system is a joke because the best surfer now may not win the title since he did not chase all the points around the globe – HE’S TOO BUSY SURFING GREAT WAVES! Theme: Contests are the enemy of surfing.

    Freesurfers 1 Competitors 0

    Hope to see KS in HB next week. Hope we get some waves!

  • Genius

    Would have Kelly not joined JBay if it was Quiksilver and not Billabong?

    Shea, your opinion?

  • billy bung

    Maybe Kelly’s preference for Fiji over J-bay was partly influenced by the fiasco of a contest in Rio, where the piss-poor surf was surpassed only by mentally deficient judging.

    On the bright side, with Kelly gone awol, Adriano could well float his way to back to back victories

  • scott a

    good article from shea about an issue that is far from black / white, right / wrong. my first impression of kelly shining the event was disrespect to the tour and organization. i wasn’t happy about waiting over 2 months between events and then it comes and kelly blatantly (public statements on the web) sticks it to the ASP and rubs it in with articles everywhere he is surfing somewhere else. what would the tour be with all surfers taking this attitude? with two throw away events the tour surfers can constantly be in a state of shopping for better opportunities than attending an ASP event and then shine it at the last second.. and then following Kelly’s example – glorify the alternative choice on the web, in print, etc.

    won’t work. ASP should fine big for this. You can’t have tour surfers disrespecting the tour, sponsors and each other in this manner.

    separately, i believe that if you make a commitment to something, you should honor it. I think Kelly was more taking a gamble it would work out with the weak forecast for JBay, but the gamble didnt pay off. In fact, I think the ASP and/or Billabong pushed to run those shitty round 2 heats just to take a stab back at Kelly. No one will admit to that as that would alienate Kelly who they want and need – but I would bet on that one.

    Kelly scored in Tavarua, but he will pay a price for the opportunity cost

  • wills

    right on shea , thanks for the motivation…

  • Giuseppe Eisonhawk O. O’Hana Hannah SalvtoreDodtorg/

    i’m not gonna write a crayola book about it. Ha#1 butt Kelly actually should. LOL serious thought it was neat. Kelly is rebel again. every surfer is the product of their surroundings HA! but NO. rail pouring sessions v. fountains of youth will never be the same featuring Ke11 dodt .
    you go bet you $50 that 2nd Pipe Dream book is better than your post

    pps: Dave Wassel’s leg has more personality that your best post

    ppps: let’s all pick up on this again latorrr

  • Alex

    You talk about golfer’s not chasing perfection over competition, but here’s a little story that might prove to be a good argument to the contrary. There’s a golf legend by the name of Moe Norman, whom Tiger Woods, Sam Snead and Ben Hogan have all said was the “best ball striker to ever live,” who chose NOT to compete on the PGA Tour, so as to golf at home in Canada where he could live out of the media spotlight and away from the crowds. He was invited, twice, to the Masters, and the second time, after making the cut, he was given a tip by Sam Snead,upon which he hit over 800 balls at the range at Augusta till night came. He hit so many balls his hands began to bleed and he couldn’t compete the next day. Reporters later asked why he did that, and he could only reply by saying that he wanted to hit the ball perfectly. That Sam Snead gave him a tip so he better “learn it perfectly.” And he was already known before then as the best ball striker — and for some reason he felt the need to improve.

    I guess my point isn’t so much to illustrate that there is precedent set in golf to chase perfection, but that when you’re at the level, like Kelly is, of the “best” in the world, there’s a hollow need to become even better, to find perfection in yourself — despite the fact that everyone else may view what you’ve already done as “perfect.” Perfection is subjective, and I think Kelly like Norman, has reached a level where he needs to find out how much better he can get for himself.

    But I do think it was a little rude that he committed to J-Bay, and then just disappeared. The again, who are we to judge Kelly for his decision; none of us have ever been where he is.

  • Arnold

    Great writing Shea. You really summed up why we are out there everytime we can.


  • Jeremy

    I’d rather see you surfing another final at Restaurants with Mick Lowe,but you have a gift for writing and commentating. Congrats to Cory for being back in the big mix. I sincerely pray he makes the cut –

  • Frank Pellegrino

    Not impressed or convinced with the line of logic in this article. Part of the attraction of the tour is surfing the best spots in the world (though they are becoming fewer in lieu of locales near large populations where the tour acts as advertising for the brands/sponsors involved) during their best season with 2-4 guys out. Part of it is also for money. Kelly went to Fiji and got better waves than J-Bay and also got paid. Look at all the damn press he’s getting!! How many times have I seen that Quiksilver logo in the last 2 weeks. And this is all part of his job! 10 years ago he probably wouldn’t have left a tour date like this because he needed to fulfill that desire to crush anybody challenging him. And, it was an opportunity to upstage the ASP.

  • Liqournchicken

    Shit writing Shea. You’re obviously from Florida.

  • Giuseppe Eisonhawk O. O’Hana Hannah Salvatore Dodtorg/

    Ke11. is a pure genius; he’s the don king of surfing. The entire fiji trip was’nt paid for by Rockstar so Cory could get in JBay at all… flip the script – The entire Fiji trip was a shot call by Ke11. directed toward Jamie O’Brien. J.O.B. & Kelly (or any number of top professional surfers) the rebel tour is back on. Pay Per View. (Mortal Kombat) Bracket style. 1st Pay-Per-View rebel tour stop: Fiji this time next year BRING IT YOU FRUIT CAKES! Next time it’s personal. BTW – @Shea, my 1sty comment definatly was’nt directed your awesome blogs; my post was directed @ Walter & @ Liquornchicken

  • Pingback: it’s all about nature, and fun — DeepFUN

  • gtag

    bullsh!t commentary.

    #1 – just paddle out at your local hot spot to see beer bellies en masse. Puh-leez! Surfers are not immune to the biological changes that effect us – its a choice you make to continue your fitness, be it on the blacktop or in the water – its has NOTHING to do with competitive sports. The cliche of “luckiest people in the world” is so fuking old! In fact I’d argue that there are more fat durfers than fat people who played college hoops. Its pretty damn easy to float out on a log and grab some waves without extending too much energy. Trust me- I know.

    #2 – Kelly is a professional athlete. Thats his job, and he chose not to show up. Your argument that his choice is a reminder of the stoke we all felt, and should continue to feel about surfing is lame at best; his choice not to show up tells us one thing – he’s done being an ASP professional. lucky for pro surfers there happens to be a secondary channel, and one that’s sort of unique to this sport, but don’t try to make this some spritual-surfers-are-god thing. thats pathetic. do you think Kelly would have made this same call 5 years ago? Uh, no F-ING way!

    Finally, #3 – Damn those waves looked good.