Kelly Slater and his mum came to stay at our house
News source: Sunshine Coast Daily, Saturday 18 March 2006
By Peter Gardiner
WHEN your mate's a seven-time surfing world champion who is mobbed by fans wherever he goes, it pays to be discreet when he sleeps over.
Kelly Slater slipped quietly into town this week, nailed some “gnarly” big sets at Wurtulla and, thanks to the discretion of his friends, then went on his winning way again. And according to Slater's host and good mate, Bush Beat boss Al Hing, that's just the way Kelly likes it.
The affable American, who once again has the surfing world at his feet after dispatching Aussie Taj Burrow in the final of the Rip Curl Pro at Duranbah, turned to the Hings to guarantee some timely R and R away from the media spotlight. That meant Kelly and his mum Judy lapping up Al and Jenny's home hospitality for a few days and packing in a fair swag of Aussie adventure.
Surfing's brightest star's Sunshine Coast recipe for rest included eating up some sizeable swell, going on a personally guided tour of Australia Zoo with his mate Steve Irwin and opening his shoulders at Pelican Waters' championship golf course. Al and Jenny have been friends with Kelly since they met him surfing in Fiji in 1992 while they were on their honeymoon.
“We were just free surfing – everyone knew of him even then when he was still a kid,” Al said.
“He was not the champion back then but everybody could see that he was on the way up – just like a young Tom Carroll.”
Every few years since then, when Kelly is touring Australia , he drops in… in the nicest possible way.
“Kelly really enjoyed his stay here – he is a very private person and likes to do things away from the media.
“He and Steve Irwin have been friends for years and he had a private tour of the Zoo.”
Kelly's low-key schedule also included a dinner with guests including lifesaving champion Darren Mercer and a game of golf at Club Pelican where he showed fairly awesome ability with the clubs.
“He is a person who likes his personal space – but this is his time off and he was enjoying himself,” Darren said.
And when the washing machine conditions started to churn off Wurtulla, Kelly had to have a crack.
“It was pretty big and gnarly and not many went out, but Kelly killed it,” Al said.
Al said Kelly will be back for the Bells Beach Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach but was not about to say if Kelly would call by again – not until he's moved on.
That's what friends are for.