A couple of years ago Stu Kennedy almost gave up pro surfing. No, really. The 23-year-old tow-headed phenom from Lennox Head, New South Wales was nearly about to go and work on the mines in Western Australia, when he decided to give the QS one more go.
"You only get one shot and no sense giving it up at 23 years old for a job you don't like, just to be chipping away at life," said Stu on the matter.
He finished 12th on the QS in 2015, and then due to a few injuries, slipped into the Big Show for this year's first event on the Gold Coast. Which is precisely where things got interesting. One by one, the kid on the Firewire that surfed a lot like Fanning started taking down world champs. Committed and confident, he knocked out Kelly Slater in Round Two, followed that up with a Gabriel Medina-kill in Round Three, smoked John John Florence in the Quarters and ended up with a solid 3rd in the entire event.
Did we mention he beat Slater on one of Slater's own Firewire designs? Certainly not a bad way to make an entrance, if not one way to make the world's best suddenly take you very seriously. Thanks to Kennedy, the Sci-Fi model became the most talked about board of 2016, and the guys at Slater surfboards are still struggling to satisfy demand. But if you think that lessons the pain for Kelly think again. Slater wants revenge.
Kennedy made the most of his second chance. He finished the 2016 season No. 19 on the Jeep Leaderboard, securing another full year on the elite ranks.