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Another last minute trip to Bali with Kelly Slater

written by Damien Fahrenfort | photos by Todd Glaser

The adventure usually begins the moment we all start packing. Some like to spend a bit of time doing this others throw it all in a bag and can’t wait to get there. Those that have been on a trip with Kelly Slater will know to have their bags packed a week before the trip and passport in their pocket. Everything is on hold till the very last second and when the pin is pulled it’s go time. For Kelly this is not something he does to torture the fortunate souls that get to be on his trip. It’s a last minute decision to the best waves possible. It’s a battle in his own head till the very last second and even then he is second guessing his decision.

One hundred phone calls later and 30 hours of traveling we all connect in Bali. The crew is looking tired, but relieved to be together and finally in the right place. Kelly has a knack to make everywhere he travels feel like home. He wastes no time and starts checking swell maps and figuring out what spots are going to be the best.

Bali, Indonesia 2012

Over the next 4 days in Bali it’s early mornings and long days. It’s as though Kelly has made some sort of deal with God where he has full power of the ocean. Usually crowded spots are empty, waves that never break are firing and waves that most of us pass up Kelly gets 10 second barrels on. He surfs longer then everyone and photogs are stressing because he’s going to out surf their back up batteries each day. After a couple days around Bali dealing with groupies, poachers and traffic Kelly decides it’s time for some peace and quite.

Indonesian legend Rizal Tanjung takes us to his secret slice of paradise a few islands away and treats us to some desolate waves. Its a small village where lobsters and coconuts are less than a dollar- no white men in sight. It’s a place where Kelly is not mobbed by fans and the King can let his guard down. Kelly silences the sound of mosquitos by the sound of his guitar and his impressive voice. It’s becoming apparent to me that there is nothing this man can’t do well. The idea for the trip was to humanize the superhuman, but I was starting to see this is impossible. He does bigger airs than the best new kids, takes off deeper and never falls. All hope for this is almost lost and I start to surrender to the super human when Kelly paddles into a below sea level reverse chopes looking wave that won’t let him escape. After several seconds underwater Kelly surfaces torn up and in pain. Instead of paddling in he returns to the lineup for redemption and while inspecting his lacerations he confronts me about the smirk on my face. My quick reply of “I thought your blood was green” leaves him laughing and cheered up. The two other surfers and I quickly exit the lineup in fear of our lives and enjoy the show that has become Kelly Slater. Our last night in Indonesia was a good one and we have learned more in this week then the rest of our lives.

Sun burnt, smiling and a job well done, the film crew and I are stoked to be going back to our safe zones. As we board our plane for home Kelly boards his to his next adventure and another week of looking for the perfect wave. In many of our eyes he has caught the perfect wave 10 times over but for him the best is still to come.

Kelly Slater Urban Jungle  

Leave the contest jersey at the event site and join Kelly Slater weaving his way through urban chaos and remote jungle in search of perfecti...

Kelly Slater Urban Jungle  

Leave the contest jersey at the event site and join Kelly Slater weaving his way through urban chaos and remote jungle in search of perfecti...