It’s hard not to connect Kelly Slater to Fiji. Since 1992 he’s been ripping at Cloudbreak, and has more wins there than any other surfer on tour. Kelly’s also deeply connected to the community. Over the past 25 years, Kelly established close relationships with village leaders and families; most notably with Tavarua’s Chief Druku, who passed away in 2015. He’s raised funds to improve community infrastructure, and even has a church built in his name. Every season, Kelly has taken the next generation under wing and played host, guide, and mentor at his second island home.
This year, Outerknown, the company Kelly founded, is sponsoring the World Surf League Championship Tour event at Tavrua. It’s brought up a bit of controversy among a few; mostly Brazilians and a few regular critics of all things WSL who see a conflict of interest. To the larger surfing community, however, it’s pretty amazing to see this story come full circle. It’s clear that this year for Kelly is about setting up a legacy. Continuance set the stage, the OK Fiji Pro plays the starring role and one hopes there might be a title before the closing credits.
Tom Servais has documented much of Kelly’s evolution in Fiji. As a feature in the Outerknown Journey blog, Tom shared some of his most memorable moments. If you can catch a clip of today’s OK Fiji Pro post show (06/04/17), Kelly tells the story behind a few of these. It’s a great interview overall, but especially in it’s sharing of Kelly’s lifetime of great memories of Tavarua.