One of the many questions Kelly Slater is asked over and over again is, “How have you won so many titles when you grew up in a place with no waves?” The easy answer is that he wanted to show the world that he could. Tell Kelly he can’t do something and you’ve pretty much guaranteed that he’ll do it. Kelly hasn’t lived full time in Florida since he was in high school (back in the days when budding surf stars actually went to high school and graduated), but the Sunshine State is still near and dear to his heart. In fact, he’s there right now.–Jamie Tierney
SURFING: What influenced you as a kid growing up on the East Coast?
Kelly: When I was a little kid, I looked up to all the guys at the Islander Hut surf shop in Cocoa Beach. Then Matt Kechele started taking Sean and I down to Sebastian Inlet a lot in the early ‘80s, and I looked up to all the guys there. Futch, Klugel Bros, Hartley, etc. were all out on most days. We really looked forward to the ESA championships in Hatteras every year, and to the US championships. We really wanted to prove we belonged in the water with the guys from the West Coast because we were basically second-class citizens to them. I think we just wanted to prove ourselves.