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Tuesday, September 21, 2010
A second with Slater at Lowers


At the 2010 Hurley Pro Kelly Slater once again proved why he's considered the best surfer in the world ... and we have the sound bites to back it up.

On Saturday, we caught up with Kelly Slater at Lowers, the sixth stop of 10 on the Surfing World Tour, shortly after he took the lead in the ASP World Tour points race and hoisted the railroad tie that is the Hurley Pro trophy. Here's a glimpse of what's on the champ's mind as he stares down what could be a record 10th world title.

On Jordy Smith under pressure: I felt he was starting to feel it, but then that wave he had against Brett [Simpson] was pretty technical. You can't do that when you're thinking about other stuff. He put that together pretty good.

On what the judges are looking for: I had a talk with the three head judges and we looked at some video. We looked at a bunch of people's waves -- my waves, Owen's [Wright] waves, and then some of Dane [Reynolds] and Jordy's [Smith] -- and we talked about the criteria, scoring and what they were looking for, so I could have a better understanding for myself. After seeing the scores and relating it to the visuals, I could see where they were getting the scores. I think they like that open-face surfing. Me and Bede [Durbidge] like to do big swooping turns, but I was trying to get more technical earlier in the contest, staying tight in the pocket, drawing a steep bottom turn and then coming up and going past 12 o'clock. The judges didn't seem to like that too much; seems they wanted to see the raw power on the open face. Then when you got the right section, you were able to do an air or bust the tail out.

On getting tubed at Lowers: The funny thing is, a tube out here isn't really a difficult thing. It's not a dangerous wave. It's kind of soft and easy to bust through the lip if you have to, but that [wave] I got was actually a stand-up barrel. It was a top-to-bottom barrel and I had to work my way through it with a couple of turns and pumps. I was surprised how good it was.

On designing and then winning on his own board: I didn't shape that board, but I designed it on the computer. It's the first board I've designed from the ground up, so it feels nice to have a win on it.

We never could figure out the headband, but it seemed to work for his full-court press.

On being in a combo situation: There are two ways you can look at it: one, it could just be a timing thing because you didn't get the waves in the beginning and the other guy is just in sync. Or the guy may have surfed his wave and gotten a score, but if you're going to keep trying crazy stuff that you're probably not going to make, your percentages go down far. You know, just ride waves and get yourself into it -- then start going for it. Of course, if you have to get a 9, you're going to have to go big no matter what, but you can't change your approach mid-heat or mid-contest to suit what you think is happening with the judges.

On his semifinal with defending world champ Mick Fanning: I was pretty bummed on how the heat went, to be honest with you. I started with a good wave, then I had priority and there was this splitting peak that came through. I was deep on the peak with priority, but then I saw Mick dart off because he thought the section was going to shift over. It looked like he was going to get a really good wave, and I thought I'd just have to go and try to make it around that section. He saw me take off, but then as soon as I realized I was too far back I jumped off, and I knew they wouldn't call an interference, but Mick was mad. He was like, 'Oh, you're trying to get me on an interference ... that's cool.' It changed the whole vibe in the water, and I think it threw Mick's headspace off. That's good for you as a competitor, but people are down here to see good surfing, and I don't want to get in the way of that. I want to help make that happen, so I was pretty bummed.

On the greatest part of surfing Trestles: Somehow the locals didn't paddle out and drop in on us. If I was a local that surfed here every day I would have been hard pressed to sit and watch that.

On winning a 10th world title: There's still a lot of work ahead.

Like a good day at the muni, Slater teeing off for the final.