Surf Safari: Kelly Slater and Jack Johnson’s Big Wave Adventure

Even as he travels from one perfect wave to the next, competing on pro surfing’s world tour, 11-time world champion Kelly Slater makes sure to keep his eye on a handful of far-flung, secret spots — places where the wind and swell almost never come together, but when they do, erupt into ridiculous, drop-everything- and-go conditions. One of those spots is a remote reef break in the Marshall Islands, some 2,600 miles from Slater’s home in Hawaii, about halfway to the Philippines. There, when conditions are just right, open-ocean freight trains collide with a shelf about a quarter-mile offshore, creating perfect right-handed tubes that peel for hundreds of yards. And because the locals don’t surf, it’s just one empty wave after another after another. “Wind’s really critical, because it’s generally not right for that place and the swell can be blocked by a number of different islands,†Slater says. “It’s a very small window where it works.â€

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