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|"Kelly has always been able to pull off dramatic moves where you think there's no way he is going to make it. Then he rides out and your jaw drops. He's been doing that since he was 12," says Dave Speir.|
In honor of Kelly Slater's 50th World Tour win, this is the second of a series of Kelly Slater Perspectives.
A few weeks back, one of the jewels in the crown that was our Hurricane Leslie Gallery was a shot of Florida's Dave Speir getting shacked in that iconic wedge off Sebastian Inlet. Today Speir is the Florida and Caribbean rep for Oakley. But back before there were Slater showdowns with Martin Potter, before the rivalry with Andy Irons, before match ups with Parko, and before 11 titles, Speir was his big challenger. They were constantly clashing in ESA and NSSA contests, specialty events, as well as the occasional pro-am.
"Every once in a while I would catch him off his game and beat him. But after I beat him, he would make me pay the next time," said Speir.
When Kelly returns to Florida, they catch up and maybe get a surf together.
And as long as the waves are decent on Tour (as they have been in 2012) Speir is pretty glued to the webcasts, especially any heats with the bald guy in the springsuit. The 50th World Tour win at Trestles was no different.
|Kelly Slater, late 80s, preparing for an early battle. Even then, he had the mental game.|
"Kelly has always been able to pull off dramatic moves where you think there's no way he is going to make it. Then he rides out and your jaw drops. He's been doing that since he was 12," Speir added.
The last time they faced off was a few years ago. Slater beat Speir in the Sean Slater Invitational. These days, Speir still patrols Sebastian Inlet. Now he has his son Blake out there, learning which about the jetty refraction as First Peak starts to come back. They're both pretty huge Kelly fans.
|Speir and his son Blake, down at Sebastian Inlet, where he and Slater have locked horns countless times.|
"He has this competitive state of mind, where if you watched his heats at Lowers, you could see that he really cared -- and there was a serious desire to win. He won without doing his absolute best surfing. Most guys have to be at the very top of their game in order to win an event. Kelly can still win without being at his very best form. He's always been able to do that. It's amazing that he can still do that at the highest level, being 40 years old."