Slater achieves perfection at the Billabong Pro Teahupo'o and the Globe WCT Fiji

Kelly’s celebratory Fosters at Tahiti
One wave. That's all it took for six-time world champ Kelly Slater to finally cure his lingering hangover from December 2003. With a "lost" world title still grinding at his competitive soul, Slater was starting to think about the next phase in his career — one filled with banquet nights, guest appearances and specialty surf events. But then it happened. Down more than 18 points against an in-tune Bruce Irons at the Billabong Pro Teahupo'o, Kelly simply let it go. The result: an impossible drop, a perfect 10 and a whole new scenario on this year's tour. When the spit finally cleared three weeks later after the Globe WCT Fiji, Slater logged in four more perfect 10s, a record-breaking 20-point heat score, 60 grand in prizemoney and the ratings lead by {{{300}}} points. Take that, Generation Now. And while he's the last one to start claiming Number 7 this early in the game, he's certainly putting off those retirement plans for the time being. —Evan SlaterSURFING MAGAZINE: You've come a long way from Bells. That loss to Bede Durbidge left you pretty sour, didn't it? KELLY SLATER: I wasn't just sour, I was f–kin' pissed. [laughs] SURFING: Did you feel they had it out for you?KELLY: I don't know — sometimes I feel that way. But you can't start feeling sorry for yourself, you know? My life's pretty damn good, so… every now and again, a call goes against you that you don't agree with. You think it should have gone your way, and you get irate about it. SURFING: Did that affect your mindset going into Tahiti?KELLY: It did. I sort of decided I wasn't going to Africa. I wasn't going to Reunion and probably not to J Bay. I thought I'd just kind of drop off, doing enough to requalify. I started this year thinking that this was my time to really get my body back in shape, to clear up all my loose ends around the world. I sort of have stuff left everywhere at friends' houses, in different places around the world, and I wanted to tidy that up.

SURFING: And then make one last push?KELLY: Yeah. Then next year, as many of those worries would be alleviated and I could go for it full-on. Then I got to Tahiti, and concluded I wasn't really giving it {{{100}}} percent all last year. And that I can kind of let it go now, you know. I think it rooted back to when I lost that title in 2003. It was really tough. To get that close and not win… to lose in the end like that was pretty disheartening. A tough thing to take. SURFING: Those feelings can linger. KELLY: A huge letdown. But something changed recently, where I realized that if I don't let that go, I may as well just quit.

SURFING: Weren't you spewing you missed that big swell down there, too?KELLY: I was totally depressed I missed that swell. I actually got there and was, like, physically sick. Didn't feel good at all. I arrived, saw it was rainy and small, and just bailed and got a hotel room in Papeete for a week. Didn't even surf for, like, eight days, until right before my first heat. I was really bummed for while there, but then I just thought, "Well, maybe I would have been that guy who's in the wrong spot at the wrong time, get myself killed or something." Plus, if I had been there for that big swell, the contest might not have been as great for me as it was.CONTINUED…