volume 31, number 4
Every generation has its school. Or has its many schools. There is almost always an Old School, a New School, a School of Hard Knocks and a School of Thought. Our grand sport of surfing even had a Preschool once. The Preschool came on directly after the Momentum Generation's New School (every generation also has many generations), and the head of the Preschool class was Kalani Robb. He was smooth, progressive, explosive and powerful. He threw tail, spun airs and also got deeply barreled. He was handsome (hello, eight-pack). He was Hawaiian. He was the next Kelly Slater. And then, at the tender young age of 33, he dropped off the scene. He works in an office now, acting as the director of community outreach for the Mauli Ola Foundation.
Many would see this turn of events as a classic cautionary tale. "See — we anoint a 'next Kelly Slater' and what happens to him? He drops off the scene and works in an office." They would look at the fresh faces in this very magazine and temper their own hopes that any one of them could ever become anything great. They would openly negate the hopeful dreaming of others. "John John probably won't end up doing very much. He rips now, but so did Dave Eggers when he was young."
The cautionary tale tellers are boring, uninspired and totally miss the point. Just because Kalani Robb is not on tour, or bagging the hot Web clip, does not mean he is not fully living. He is actively involved in making the lives of children suffering from cystic fibrosis better. Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that clogs the lungs with mucous and research has proved that high saline content can help break up that awful mucous. Guess what has lots of saline? The ocean! Guess what is the best thing to do in the ocean? Surf! And so Kalani Robb, away from the spotlight, away from the magazine page, is totally killing it. Cautionary tale? Not unless the caution is against being super awesome. —Chas Smith