CentralFloridaMedicine.com chats with Cocoa Beach native Kelly Slater, a 10-time world champion surfer, about his training, nutrition and involvement with the Cocoa Beach-based World Skin Cancer Foundation. Slater has won the ASP World Champion a record 10 times – including five consecutive titles from 1994–98. He is the youngest (at age 20) and the oldest (at age 38) to win the title. In May 2005, in the final heat of the Billabong Tahiti Pro contest at Teahupo’o, Slater became the first surfer ever to be awarded two perfect scores for a total 20 out of 20 points under the ASP two-wave scoring system.
CENTRALFLORIDAMEDICINE.COM: Kelly, you’ve remained at the top of your sport for an unprecedented nine world championships. This must take a great deal of physical fitness. What are the keys to your remaining so physically fit?
KELLY: Don’t over-eat and have fun doing what you’re doing.
CENTRALFLORIDAMEDICINE.COM: How often do you practice now and can you tell us how you determine your training schedule?
KELLY: I’ll take weeks off at a time if I’m not in the mood, and then I’ll surf a lot when I get the feeling back to do it some more. I don’t really train, I just eat right and go hard when I have to.
CENTRALFLORIDAMEDICINE.COM: When you are preparing for an important competition like the world championships, how do you prepare physically and mentally during the weeks leading up to the contest?
KELLY: I don’t think about it much. I just imagine what I need to be ready, and what to expect from my equipment and the way I need to surf the waves at that particular spot.
CENTRALFLORIDAMEDICINE.COM: What was the toughest contest that you ever competed in?
KELLY: Probably Pipeline ’98. I had to come from behind to win a world title and it didn’t look like it would happen. The guys ahead faltered and I still had to perform.
CENTRALFLORIDAMEDICINE.COM: Do you use any certain dietary regimes or do you use any supplements to your diet? What are your favorite foods? What snack foods do you eat between training sessions or to gain quick energy during contests?
KELLY: I eat mostly raw natural foods and don’t mix proteins and carbs if you can help it. Maple syrup for my sugars usually, and lots of tea and hot water to flush my system out in the mornings.
CENTRALFLORIDAMEDICINE.COM: Can you share with the readers what are the particular things that you have done during your life that have enabled you to become so highly skilled at surfing?
KELLY: I was bored as a kid and spent a lot of time in the ocean. I just use my mind to surf the way I wanted, and feel it in my body without even having to do it. You should take different perspectives from people, and see how they make sense for you in your life – and translate that into the things you love.
SCM&HL: Who were the most influential people in your career?
KELLY: Tom Curren was always my biggest surfing influence, along with my older brother and Matt Kechele.
CENTRALFLORIDAMEDICINE.COM: Have you had any injuries during your career and how did you treat those injuries?
KELLY: I’ve been relatively lucky. I’ve had only a few injuries here and there, and have never been out of the water more than two or three months.
CENTRALFLORIDAMEDICINE.COM: What were the keys to recovery from any of those injuries?
KELLY: Circulation and ice. Don’t let them get out of hand when you have injuries. Treat them right away and it’s easier later on.
CENTRALFLORIDAMEDICINE.COM: Can you share with us what physicians and/or health experts have helped you during your career?
KELLY: Lots of people, including kinesiologists, chiropractors, massage therapists and homeopathic doctors. I don’t go to traditional medicine very much unless my leg’s hanging off. I don’t ever take any medications and I just take care and read a lot on how to heal myself.
CENTRALFLORIDAMEDICINE.COM: How do you protect yourself from the elements? What products do you use for protection and why?
KELLY: I shouldn’t say this but I don’t really use sunscreen much unless I’m going to get really fried. Lots of toxic chemicals in most of them I’d rather not put on my body. Always have good oils like arnica for injuries, jojoba for your skin, aloe for burns, hydrogen peroxide for cleaning yourself up and a million other things it can do. Those usually cover me.
CENTRALFLORIDAMEDICINE.COM: How concerned are you about the damaging effects of the sun on your skin?
KELLY: I’m pretty lucky but I try not to fry myself too badly too often. There’s no history of skin cancer in my family.
CENTRALFLORIDAMEDICINE.COM: What is your family’s involvement with the World Skin Cancer Foundation?
KELLY: My friend started it and my family helps out with it. I help raise some funds and give advice where I can.
CENTRALFLORIDAMEDICINE.COM: How often are you back on the Space Coast and when and where are your favorite places to surf in Brevard?
KELLY: I like surfing in Cocoa Beach mostly. I’m not around a lot these days, only a few weeks a year on a good year.
CENTRALFLORIDAMEDICINE.COM: Do you have any other words for all your hometown fans back on the Space Coast?
KELLY: Have fun. I miss home all the time.