If you’ve followed surfing at all in the last twenty years, and maybe even if you haven’t, you’ve heard the name Kelly Slater. Usually, the name is associated with a number. For example, he holds the record for number of ASP World Championships won (10), youngest surfer to win (age 20, 1992), and oldest surfer to win (38, 2010).
In 2005, he was the first surfer awarded two perfect scores in the ASP system, and he is the all-time leader in career event wins since winning the Boost Mobile Pro event in 2007. However, Slater is so much more than a collection of numbers. Throughout his career, he has dedicated himself to introducing the sport of surfing to a wider audience and to conserving the oceans which provide him with his livelihood. In the service of the first goal, Slater has appeared in numerous film, television, and musical projects. He appeared in 10 episodes of Baywatch as Jimmy Slade and more recently, an episode of the reality television show The Girls Next Door. In addition, he’s appeared in several “surf films,” from Kelly Slater in Black and White (1991) to Ultimate Wave Tahiti (2010).
Slater has also performed in a band unsurprisingly called the Surfers, and performed with artists Ben Harper and Pearl Jam. He also appeared in the music video for Garbage’s 1999 single “You Look So Fine,” from their 1998 album Version 2.0. The surfer’s other appearances on the screen have been a little more animated. He first appeared as a playable character in the 2001 game Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, and then as the star of the 2002 game Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer, developed by Treyarch (who also developed Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 for the Dreamcast). The similarities between these games were useful for drawing in fans of skateboarding while also demonstrating the unique aspects that surfing offers.
Kelly’s other passion, ocean conservation, is supported through a collaboration with Reefs Neck, which protects temperate reefs in the oceans off California. More of his personal philosophy and autobiography can be found in his two books, 2003′s Pipe Dreams: A Surfer’s Journey and 2008′s Kelly Slater: For the Love(written in conjunction with Phil Jarratt).Of course, when Slater hits the waves, all of the above is just background. His style is built on speed and energy, but he also incorporates plenty of air and barrel maneuvers to keep things interesting.
Slater has been sponsored by surfing giant Quiksilver since the early 1990s, and rides Channel Islands surfboards with his own brand of FCS fins. On land, Slater has also had another sponsor Bill Posey, Florida House Representative, who in 2010 sponsored a resolution honoring Slater for his “outstanding and unprecedented achievements in the world of surfing and for being an ambassador of the sport and excellent role model.” The resolution was passed unanimously by a voice vote.