Kelly Slater: Ready for the Next Wave
Kelly Slater, 37, has won a record nine ASP world titles, with his first (1992) and most recent (2008) coming 16 years apart.
Slater proved he can literally surf a door while re-creating singer-songwriter Jack Johnson's film called <i>Mr. Slater Goes To Work</i>. Johnson, a friend of Slater's, shot the film for a college art class.
Slater, in action at the 1994 U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, Calif., dominated the sport in the mid-1990s.
At age 26, Slater retired from full-time competition in 1998. But he returned in 2002 and has since won three more world championships.
After finishing second at the 2004 Quicksilver Pro France in Hossegor, Slater jammed on his guitar at a post-competition concert. Following in a tradition of surfer/musicians, Slater plays guitar in his spare time and even formed a band during the '90s with fellow pro surfers Rob Machado and Peter King. The group was aptly called The Surfers.
Mark Richards, who won four consecutive world titles, once said of Slater, ''I don't care who you mention -- Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali -- Kelly is unquestionably the greatest athlete ever to stomp around this planet.''
After years of being linked to celebrities, Slater is finding happiness with the down-to-earth Kalani Miller, a fellow surfer.
Slater, shown here competing in Australia in 2007, may retire for a second time after the '09 season.
Slater celebrated after defeating Mick Fanning to win the Quicksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks (Australia) in March 2008. Slater won five of the tour's first seven events last year and cruised to his ninth world title.
Slater is winning again at 37, and also working on a plan to move surfing toward the mainstream of spectator sports.