Kelly Slater's Alley 'Oop in Rio!

You’ve seen the spin and you know the man. When he recently landed the biggest alleyoop ever done, Kelly Slater again proved that, at age 39, he’s still the forefront of progressive surfing. Stab spoke with the champ about pushing new heights and layback landings.

Stab: Is the alleyoop you pulled the other day, the best manoeuvre you’ve ever done? Surely it is!
Kelly Slater: I’m not sure. Alleyoops are alleyoops. It’s a dated move, but I guess so is a bottom turn. But when you do a nice one, it still feels as good as any other manoeuvre. I did one at Bells* in the expression session that I haven’t seen on video, but it felt just as high and I landed cleaner (and almost on Layne Beachley’s head), but maybe that’s just in my memory. Everything gets better with time… old relationships, the surf when you were little, the fish you caught, the manoeuvre you landed when the filmer was changing film or peeing.

There must’ve been a lot of impact in the landing. How’d it feel? They’re hard to get just right on the landing, ’cause you don’t see for a second and you have to judge a moving object and commit to landing on what you think it’s gonna be doing. That wave was a perfect combination of wind and steepness and a relatively easy landing, but I’m still critical of doing laybacks, unless maybe it’s for a Teahupo’o barrel, not a recovery. There have been way too many recoveries in video sections lately that seem to count as clips, but I guess if it’s one of the highest you’ve done then maybe it’s a keeper. It’s just so nice to grease a landing, but I’m glad I stayed upright.

We saw you trying these at Cape Solander. Has an air of this magnitude been on your radar for a while? Just going really high and sticking it is fun whether it’s a straight air or a rotation. I guess if you really launched a high one of these and landed at the perfect angle down the curve of the face, there would be no hiccup and you’d have so much speed to combo something after. I’ve been thinking it’d be cool to see more one-handed flips from people instead of double-grabs, too. Double-grabs and laybacks are reserved for heats where you have to make something ‘radical’ and impress the judges who might not otherwise realise how much easier it is. If you combine a double-grab and a layback, now you’re talkin’! I’ll try one of those and send it your way then we can do this process again.