What's Slater's Next Whip?

In the dying minutes of his Round 3 heat at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Goast, Kelly Slater (USA) came in for a board change. Fans expected to see him grab something like his tried-and-true, high-performance shortboards from Al Merrick, honed over years of research and development.

What arrived instead was a stubby, experimental shape from Daniel "Tomo" Thomson, stunning the crowd of beachgoers.

Slater's Bizarre Board Change
Kelly Slater calls for an unexpected board change at Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast.

Now, the novel choice might just make more sense: It is widely rumored, but yet to be confirmed, that Slater is in the process of acquiring a majority stake in Firewire - a technology company with numerous shapers in its stable including Thomson. Tracks Magazine reported that Tomo has in fact shaped a few boards for the 11-time World Champion, but hasn't confirmed if, when and where Slater will be riding them.

Kelly Slater exits the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast with a Tomo surfboard. Slater with his Tomo at the Quik Pro. Photo Courtesy of Steve Sherman. - WSL / Steve Sherman

Slater, a longtime advocate of environmentally friendly manufacturing processes, is likely intrigued by Firewire's commitment to using sustainable materials.

The Firewire website states:

Firewire embraced the ECOBOARD program from day one with the introduction of our TIMBERTEK models almost 2 years ago. The combination of sustainably grown Paulownia wood deck skins and bio-resin throughout, qualified TIMBERTEK for ECOBOARD certification, and with over 10,000 TIMBERTEK boards in the water since its introduction, we're proud of what has been accomplished so far.

However, we're always looking for additional ways to reduce our overall carbon footprint and the toxicity of our surfboards. With that in mind, we converted 100 percent to Entropy Bio-resin in July 2014, qualifying every Firewire surfboard built for ECOBOARD certification. In recognition of this commitment, Sustainable Surf created a special ECOBOARD logo for Firewire which you will see placed around the leash plug on all non-TIMBERTEK Firewire boards built. The TIMBERTEK models will continue to have the ECOBOARD logo branded in front of the fins.

We are excited to be at the forefront of the pursuit of the "ever-greener" surfboard.

Kelly Slater surfing in Round 3 of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast. In spite of the change request, Slater looked fine on his standard shortboard for most of stop No. 1 of the Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour. - WSL

As a brand, Firewire stocks the specialty models from guest shapers such as Matt Biolos (Lost Surfboards) and Jon Pyzel (Pyzel Surfboards) constructed with Firewire's eco-friendly materials. This has led some to speculate that Slater may plan to try out models from other well-known shapers should the purchase rumors prove true.

See what the champ will be riding at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach LIVE on the World Surf League homepage starting April 1.