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Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Updated: October 1, 10:30 PM ET
Slater Perspective Part 3

By Jon Coen
ESPN.com

Kelly Slater
"I grew up watching that sequence from 'In Black and White,' so I know Kelly has history with that wave, and I've seen enough of him surfing the place to have seen the connection," Joel Parkinson says.

In honor of Kelly Slater's 50th World Tour win, this is the third in a series of Kelly Slater Perspectives.

1: Sean Mattison 2: Dave Speir 3: Joel Parkinson

The film was called "Kelly Slater In Black and White." Made by Quiksilver, it came out in 1991 and introduced the world to a talking, moving (and ripping) Kelly Slater. To that point, he had made only a brief appearance in "Surfers the Movie" and still photos in magazines.

A 10-year-old Joel Parkinson inhaled it on VHS, rewound and watched again. John John Florence wasn't even born yet.

Among some irreverent interviews and Hawaii shred, it documents Slater going to the final of the 1990 Body Glove Surfbout at Lowers. He would go on to dismantle Chris Brown, Charlie Kuhn and Bud Llamas for his first pro win. Keep in mind that Slater was from Florida. He grew up in Cocoa Beach and had a keen understanding of the bounce at Sebastian Inlet. Fifty ASP World Tour victories later, he claimed the Hurley Pro at Lowers as if that were his home break.

Kelly Slater In Black and White
"Kelly Slater In Black and White," Quiksilver, 1991.

"I grew up watching that sequence from 'In Black and White,' so I know Kelly has history with that wave, and I've seen enough of him surfing the place to have seen the connection. As much as guys like Mick [Fanning] and I are at home at Snapper, he's at home at Trestles," says Parkinson, who fell to Slater in this year's final, 16.50 to 14.00.

"But at Trestles, especially on a long period swell like that, you're always going to get slow heats. I'd been lucky up until the final in that most of my heats had plenty of good waves and I'd been able to get some rhythm going and was having a hoot out there. My surfing felt great. But it became pretty clear early on -- as soon as Kelly got that inside left, I knew it -- that the final was going to be slow, and when that happens, everything tightens up and the small things become even more crucial. And Kelly is the master of the small things at Trestles."

It's widely known that webcast numbers spike during a Slater heat. And there's the way the crowd turns into its own frenzied ocean of excitement as fans flow from the beach to the scaffolding to the water's edge when he surfs. And among his fellow competitors, Instagramming and exercise balling tends to go on hold. All eyes focus on the ocean.

"All the competitors stay to watch Kelly's heat, knowing it's going to be entertaining," says Florence, who has been on tour for a full year now. He says he has yet to have a real conversation with Slater during the business end of an event.

"There's not much talking among competitors. Typically, everyone tries to find his own space coming down to the final day of the event," he says.

Joel Parkinson
As solid as Parkinson was in every respect at the Hurley Pro, Slater got the best of him.

But while Florence might talk about entertainment value, it's actually an education. If you don't try to learn everything you can from an 11-time champ, you might as well hang up the jersey. Everyone in the title hunt this year makes mental notes of Slater's game.

"As for how Kelly paces himself in general, it's pretty rare that he ever wipes the floor with anyone in the early rounds," Parkinson says. "He always builds, and the later in the event you meet him, the more dangerous he gets. We all know that."