Slater, having grown up in Florida, was never truly comfortable in waves of consequence until a trip to Oahu in 1987. A giant Northwest swell was pounding the coast, closing out breaks from Waimea to Sunset. He drove to Makaha, where he was greeted with 40′ (Hawaiian scale) waves breaking across the bay. Slater parked and saw legendary charger Brandon “Big Wave” Davis waxing up his 11′ gun. Big Wave Davis simply gave Slater a wink and they paddled out, trading waves all afternoon. Slater credits Davis in his biography stating “Brandon’s knowledge and poise in large surf had a huge impact on my career. Anytime I’m dropping in a big wave, I think back to that wink in the Makaha parking lot and I push myself over the ledge.” He will forever be known as one of the best surfers of all time. Watch this video and I’m sure you’ll agree.

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