Never one to accept the status quo of board design, Kelly Slater is at it again. This time he's experimenting with a board inspired by the hydrodynamic qualities of a manta ray as well as some innovative shapes taken from a wake-skate video, making for a template that would cause most shapers to scratch their heads.
After dropping by the Channel Islands Headquarters in Santa Barbara, SURFER was privy to some top secret information about the latest addition to Slater's quiver for Jeffreys Bay. According to Channel Island's Travis Lee the board is basically a combination of Slater's Tangent and Wizard Sleeve models, but with one obvious exception: the nose is hacked off about six inches and sculpted into the shape of a manta ray, making for another very short, and very obtrusive looking shape.
So how will it function? It's hard to say as Kelly's experimentation has been hit and miss this past year, with one very successful experiment at the 2008 Pipeline Masters and one less-than-stellar trial at Snapper Rocks. Whether the board will actually be used in competition also remains to be seen, but if the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay elects to use the traditional ASP Format (which allows for a loser’s round), the likelihood of experimentation will surely increase.
I’m all for innovation, but I guess we'll have to wait and see. The surf world will be looking forward to it.