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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Kelly Slater lets go at Maui Film Fest

 •  Awards, films begin today

By Catherine E. Toth
Advertiser Staff Writer

Reigning world surfing champion Kelly Slater, left, in March won the Quiksilver Pro in Australia setting him up for a shot at winning his eighth world title. The Maui film festival is screening Slater's introspective look at his 2005 world win.

Pierre Tostee

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SLATER STATS

Name: Robert Kelly Slater

Nickname: Slats

Age: 33

Height: 5-feet-9

Weight: 160 pounds

Birthday: Feb. 11, 1972

Birthplace: Cocoa Beach, Fla.

Home: Slater has houses all over the world, but he calls Florida home.

Claim to fame: Seven-time world champion surfer and both youngest (20) and oldest (33) to ever win the world title.

Current world standing: 1

2006 earnings: $70,000

Total earnings to date: $1,384,105

Stance: Regular foot

Primary sponsor: Quiksilver

Primary shaper: Al Merrick

Hot factor: Voted cutest guy in high school and named by People magazine as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World in 1991.

Romantic status: Linked to supermodel and former flame of Leonardo DiCaprio Gisele Bundchen.

Offspring: Daughter, Taylor

Pop culture contribution: He has his own video game: "Kelly Slater's Pro Surfer"

His fave waves: Kirra in Australia and Pipeline on O'ahu's North Shore

Hobbies: Golf, playing guitar and fishing

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ABOUT THE DVD

"Kelly Slater — Letting Go"

About: The film, which features music by local musician John Cruz, follows seven-time world champion surfer Kelly Slater on his 2005 campaign. It offers a rare glimpse into Slater's emotional journey to win title No. 7.

Viewing: 10 p.m. Sunday at the Celestial Cinema in Wailea, as part of the Maui Film Festival

Purchase: At surf shops or online at Quiksilver.com/ lettinggotour

Cost: $29.99

Information: www.mauifilmfestival.com

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Kelly Slater hopes to keep his world champ title in 2006, starting with a March win in Australia. He has a new film out and a video game.

Pierre Tostee

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"Letting Go" is one of the movies showing at the Maui Film Festival.

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Kelly Slater

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What does the planet's most recognizable and arguably one of its greatest pro surfers do after winning a record seventh world title?

Make a surf film, of course.

In "Letting Go," one of the movies showing at the Maui Film Festival, which starts today, reigning world champion Kelly Slater takes you through his 2005 title run, easily one of the greatest comebacks in surf history.

In the '90s, Slater, now 33, dominated the Association of Surfing Professionals world tour, and won the title an unprecedented six times in seven years.

In 1999, Slater took a break from the tour, returning in 2001 to a new field of athletic and talented competitors including Kaua'i's Andy Irons, who earned No. 1 in 2002, 2003 and 2004.

By 2005 it had been seven years since Slater owned the crown, raising the question from critics: "Are his days of competitive surfing over?"

Hardly.

In the introspective film, Slater spills every emotion along the way, from anger at a bad beat at Bells Beach in Australia "I was so mad I wanted to break a computer!" to elation when he scores two perfect 10s at Teahupoo in Tahiti "It was one of the most memorable waves I've had in my life, by all means."

You ride alongside Slater on every cutback, every bottom turn, on his way to his record seventh world title.

Last week, The Advertiser chatted by e-mail with Slater, who's rehabbing a lingering rib injury in L.A. en route to the Rip Curl Search contest somewhere in Mexico. (So don't look for him on Maui.)

Q. Why did you need to share this story about your 2005 title run in "Letting Go"?

A. I thought it was a growing experience for me to get through some things that others may relate to in their lives. I hope it gives that to someone out there. It's also nice to have a scrapbook for your year.

Q. What do you hope viewers get from watching this film?

A. Something honest and worthwhile.

Q. The film opened with your inner conflict between winning and having fun. Now that the run for your record eighth world title is on, what's your approach this time?

A. Not worrying about it. It doesn't really matter, and when you approach it that way, something else happens where it comes together for you in a good way.

Q. What would be the draw for people who aren't into surfing to watch this film?

A. Probably the mindset of a sportsman in a different environment that translates to other lives and situations in life.

Q. So what IS the deal between you and Andy Irons? The tension is obvious there. Is the media hype about the rivalry between you two really just that hype?

A. We're friends and enemies for a common goal. We have an understanding and a respect for each other.

Q. There were moments last year that you called "spiritual." How much of competitive surfing is skill, talent, luck and divine intervention?

A. It is a total combination of the whole in a dynamic way. The differences are minute.

Q. So aside from golf and playing the guitar, what do you do in your downtime?

A. I stick with the favorites: golf, guitar, surfing. Might have to get into some other training outside of just surfing. Maybe some running and stretching.

Q. What's been better: winning the first title in '92 or winning this last one?

A. The last felt the best.

Reach Catherine E. Toth at ctoth@honoluluadvertiser.com.