Above the ever-shifting sands of Pupukea, between Ehukai and Rocky Point, sits a handful of beach homes. Most were built decades ago. Over the last few winters the Pacific has crept ever closer to their backdoors.
Kelly Slater owns one of the homes. So does John John Florence. Besides the odd golf outing to Pebble Beach, this winter Slater's been enjoying his time at home.
Artist and filmmaker Jack Coleman, who hails from Newport Beach and typically trains his lens on the alt-craft set, captured a few sessions with the 11-time World Champ. Warm water, late-season swells and some momentarily blissful sandbars find him loose, relaxed and surfing as well as ever.
As fans of Slater, what can we glean from his performance in these two minutes of action? A lot of things. First, Slater looks good. Really good. Having just turned 48 years young, whatever nagging injuries have plagued him in recent years appear to be in the rear-view mirror. He looks strong. His cat-like reflexes and telltale creativity appear no different than they were a decade ago.
His boards also look great. After so much experimentation and tinkering with different design theories, it doesn't appear like he's thinking about what's under foot when he's riding. The board is just there, responding to his every wish. Off the bottom, in the tube, into the lip or on rail, there's nary a hitch in his giddy up. He's as smooth as he's ever looked.
In a couple of weeks, Slater will make his 2020 debut at the Challenger Series' Corona Piha Pro in New Zealand. In his statement to the press announcing his intentions, he noted that he was looking forward to get the year underway.
"I love the country and all it has to offer. New Zealand is a place with incredible surf, amazing golf courses and so much more," said Slater. "I'm also looking forward to starting my 2020 WSL season by competing at a Challenger Series event."
While the man does love his golf, don't be fooled into thinking he's going to New Zealand for a golf vacation. We're talking about one of the most driven humans in the world. After all this time in the sun on the North Shore, the smart money says he's looking to get the competitive juices flowing.
Finishing 8th on the men's Jeep Leaderboard last year, if this footage from Coleman is anything to go off of, 2020 could be a good one for the GOAT.