KELLY SLATER: Well you know that any time Andy surfs, he can pull out a nine out of the bag any time. He can get a couple of good waves and score at any time or spot, especially in a beachbreak (like at Imbituba where the final day of the {{{Nova}}} Schin was held), where he’s able to really read which are the good little waves — not necessarily the biggest waves but the wave that’s going to offer a big score. He’s always going to try big maneuvers to get those high scores when he needs them. He didn’t really need that high a score, and Taylor made a few mistakes in that heat as well. It was interesting though, for me, to sit back and watch Andy make a few mistakes, dig a couple of rails on waves that he had, and then have waves close out on him — to watch his frustration, watch him kick his board, which he did in his first three-man heat in France this year. It looked like he just wasn’t present at all, you know; like he wasn’t trying. It sort of seemed like that in his heat yesterday (in his quarterfinal), and then he got himself in a stress situation at the end of the heat needing a score, and that caused him to make a bad choice in wave selection under pressure with minutes to go. It happens to all of us — some more than others. It doesn’t happen to Andy very often.YOU’RE NOW ALMOST A WISE OLD GURU ON TOUR THESE DAYS. YOU’RE NOT THAT OLD, BUT COMPARED TO HIM, I MEAN HE’S REALLY A GROMMET COMPARED TO THE EXPERIENCE YOU HAVE UNDERBELT. DO YOU FEEL AN ADVANTAGE THERE WITH THAT WISDOM WITH AGE AND EXPERIENCE BEHIND YOU?
Where I feel a real advantage is that I’ve been in that position — where he is at, and when it seemed surfing was the world to me, surfing was everything. Now. . .I don’t know. People have been getting really excited about surfing right now, but at the end of the day. . .I got to Brasil and thought in my head, “Give yourself a theme about where you guys are all at right now — you, Taj, Mick, Andy.” I just thought, ‘There’s no losers on tour this year!’ NO matter what happens, everyone is real excited about surfing right now, even non-surfers, and it’s a good position for all of us. I can just accept the fact, ‘Hey, I might not win this year.’ Whether it be myself or Andy, Taj or Mick or whoever else is in the running, only one person is going to win. That isn’t going to change my life — whether I do win, or I don’t win. It might mean a few more pictures and interviews, and a little more money, but at the end of the day you can’t really let it affect you one way or the other too badly. There’s no reason to let something like that make or devastate your life. SO YOU’RE OBVIOUSLY PLACING A LOT OF IMPORTANCE ON BEING CALM.
Absolutely! I feel I can get in a stress situation and still remain in relative calm. If you can stay with the feeling that it doesn’t really matter, that whatever is going to happen, is going to happen, you can be OK with that or anything. I try to go out before I surf every heat and tell myself that I can accept losing before I even surf. Sometimes I feel like letting the other guy win, just to see what that feels like — just get it out of the way, so that when there’s two minutes left in the heat and you’re needing a score, and whether or not you win the heat, you find yourself stuck in some country and just have to get out and have to chill. The tour can do some weird things to you, and it takes years to try and right that stuff.