Meet the surfers who stole the year of the snake.
1. Kelly Slater
The nearly 42-year-old American has won two world titles and finished runner-up twice in the last four years. For any other surfer, and yeah, that includes Joel and Mick, it'd be a career-best quatrain. But Kelly has been winning world titles since 1992 when he became the youngest-ever champ at 20. When the mood strikes, Kelly is still capable of surfing above every single other surfer on tour....
....Think, his demolition of Fiji and beating John John Florence in his own backyard. But, then, there were times when the waves were small, maybe a little inconsistent, and he looked surprisingly vulnerable. Against Felipe Toledo in France. Against the wildcard Frederico Morais in Portugal. Disinterest? Wrong boards? It happens. Twenty years on tour and six weeks on the road in Europe will do that. Are they cracks? Maybe, but small and, for now, insignificant. It'll only be after considerable time, maybe 30 years in the future, when we reflect, when the reality drifts into legend, that we'll appreciate the remarkable feats we've witnessed.
2. John John Florence
Last year was owned by Dane Reynolds. Marinelayerproductions, his website, had become a shrine for surfers interested in performance as well as quirky sideshow. But, not so slowly, John John has risen from understudy to the very close to unanimous best-surfer-in-the-world. Wait, here's Dane now! Let's ask whom he thrills to! "Definitely John John. He’s the sickest. Just the fact that he does what he does and still surfs 20-foot waves, it's sick." What about movies? "Definitely surf movies like John John's movie, 'Done'. This is like a full-on John John fan-out! It's heavy. No one else doing that shit. I don’t know who else to talk about. I'll just watch Done over and over," Dane told photographer Morgan Maassen in Stab magazine.
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