Pipe Dreams: A Surfer's Journey

Pipe Dreams: A Surfer's Journey

4.6 12
by Kelly Slater

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 Six–time world surfing champion, actor, and US heart–throb Kelly Slater tells of the struggles and triumphs he's experienced throughout his life and how they have helped him to become one of the world's most loved sports figures.

From beach blanket bingo to Baywatch, surfing has fascinated people for years, and Kelly Slater is the sport's


 Six–time world surfing champion, actor, and US heart–throb Kelly Slater tells of the struggles and triumphs he's experienced throughout his life and how they have helped him to become one of the world's most loved sports figures.

From beach blanket bingo to Baywatch, surfing has fascinated people for years, and Kelly Slater is the sport's newest star. He's one of the world's most popular surfers; his radical moves have revolutionised the sport. Born in Cocoa Beach, Florida, in 1972, he found surfing to be a great way to escape problems at home. When he was 11, his parents divorced. Slater and his brother, Sean, were raised by their suddenly single mother, who struggled to support two young sons. After Slater's surfing career took off, he made the transition into acting and modelling. He spent a season starring on the popular television show Baywatch, where he won the hearts of women young and old, including Pamela Anderson, whom he dated for about a year. He has also been featured in Versace ads.

In Pipe Dreams, he shares the stories that have influenced his life and have inspired him to overcome both personal and professional hurdles and achieve his dreams.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Because six-time world champion surfer Slater has been perhaps the dominant figure in the sport since the 1990s-combining "freakish freesurfing and a vision for bringing his act on the pro tour without toning it down"-it is surprising that his autobiography is so pedestrian. Slater recounts growing up with a turbulent home life in the fading Florida surf community of Cocoa Beach, winning his first world championship in 1992 at age 20 as the youngest men's champ in history, retiring in 1998 after winning his sixth world title and his recent comeback. Slater has many lively stories to tell, about his friendships with the many great surfers at the famous "Pipeline" area of Oahu, his run-ins with surfing groupies and his ill-fated role in the TV series Baywatch. He has plainspoken insights into his world, such as the egos found on the world tour circuit, the change in style from long boards to the "new school" of short boards and how many great surfers "fail to grasp the system" of professional competitions well enough to reach their full potential. Unfortunately, this is a relentlessly detailed book, written in a fairly simple and direct style, describing almost every surfing competition Slater has been in since his first one when he was six years old. While Slater's many fans will enjoy reading that "[I] surfed one of the best heats of my life in the quarterfinals of the Marui Pro at Hebara Beach" in 1992, the average reader looking for insights into the world of surfing will find this book tougher going. (Aug.) Forecast: Slater is still an extremely popular surfer whose fans will love this book, while his involvement with the popular surfer-turned-singer Jack Johnson has brought his name to a new audience. But this book will be too detailed to capture the interest of a wider audience. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Following Kelly Slater from before he was born through winning six world surfing titles to the present, this book examines in detail the life and career of one professional surfer as he tries to realize his dream on and off the water. Offering an intimate look into his own life, Slater attempts to demystify his image while also making clear the hard work and sacrifices he has had to make to excel at the level that he has in the world of surfing. Slater recounts the details of his life chronologically, from personal stories of near poverty conditions in the low rent condominiums of Cocoa Beach to a stint on Bay Watch and a subsequent romance with Pamela Anderson. Even as Slater discusses the fun and excitement of touring all around the globe, he also presents the pain of a broken home and alcoholic father and the bittersweet joy of becoming a father at twenty-three years old. Filled with black-and-white photos and a few color shots, this book is a visually beautiful archive of some great surfing photos as well as several personal shots. At times offering a nearly claustrophobic view of Slater's life, this book is more for the surfing fan or sports enthusiast rather than someone just looking for an interesting read. Although written without obvious flaws, the detail of this account sometimes becomes overwhelming. Slater manages to present an interesting and inspirational book on this often-marginalized sport, one that any surfing fan will enjoy. VOYA CODES: 3Q 3P J S A/YA (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult-marketed book recommended for Young Adults). 2003, ReganBooks/HarperCollins, 338p.; Illus. Photos. Charts. Appendix., Ages 12 to Adult.
—Heather Hepler

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
8.98(w) x 5.98(h) x 0.92(d)
Age Range:
14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Cocoa Beach

Leaving Orlando International Airport, the Beeline Expressway runs due east toward Brevard County. There's not much to see on the hourlong drive, except 3-D billboards covered with giant apes, extraterrestrials, and twisters, which lure tourists to Universal Studios and less expensive beachy versions of Ron-Jon's Surf Shop, the world's only twenty-four-hour stop for people who don't surf but want to take a T-shirt back home that says otherwise. Other than that, it's a straight road cut through the middle of dense clumps of palmetto and pine forests.

Entering Brevard County, also known as the Space Coast, the Beeline is nice enough to bypass the city of Cocoa, which in 1925 lent its name, originating from the native coconut palms, to Cocoa Beach, its new coastal neighbor. The Beeline also navigates around Cape Canaveral, the place that put Brevard on the map. Prior to 1961, the local economy was still juiced by the production of citrus products. The beach was nothing but a skinny twelve-mile strip of white sand, shoe box houses, and tiny rattrap motels sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and the Banana River. The Cape -- flat, undeveloped, and close to water, with a climate that allows for year-round activity -- was the perfect place to launch space shuttles. The sleepy scrubland was transformed into a major launch base, and because of the importance of beating Russia into orbit, astronauts were as valued in American culture as any movie stars. They brought a happening aura to a place that needed some life. For one glorious decade, when NASA embarked on the Apollo project, Cocoa Beach was a nonstop celebration, attracting young people from all over the nation.

Just past Canaveral, the road skirts south and morphs into Astronaut Boulevard, and eventually into the coastal highway known as A1A. Whenever I go home, I can't help but chuckle at the sign I see when I enter Cocoa Beach. "World Famous," it claims, but I can't figure out why. I guess it's because the 1960s sitcom I Dream of Jeannie was set there, although it wasn't filmed there. You can tell because there are mountains in the background on the show, when in reality the only mountain in Florida is the Space Mountain ride at Disney World. Ask any local what's so special about Cocoa Beach, and you're likely to hear that the most endearing customs are bikini contests, beer drinking, and stabbings at the pier.

Don't get me wrong. I love my hometown, but until now it certainly hadn't been a big surfing supporter. In all my years of flying the Cocoa Beach flag around the world, the city didn't so much as give me a phone call of congratulations until I started dating Pamela Anderson. Then they asked me to come to a town meeting. I did get a street named after me and a key to the city but that wasn't until November 2002, ten years after I won my first world title. Even though there have always been a lot of surfers around town, I guess the sport wasn't mainstream enough to warrant much attention.

A Match Made In Partyville

Steve Slater, my dad, was born in Ocala, Florida, but grew up in Daytona Beach, Florida. He claimed to be a descendant of Samuel Slater, a guy who became known as "the Father of the American Industrial Revolution" when he came over from England in 1789 and built a cloth factory in Rhode Island, but I haven't yet done the research to find out if it's true. In high school, my dad played football, basketball, and ran track, but his real interest was water sports. He loved to swim and fish, and by the end of the 1950s had become a lifeguard and surfer.

Surfing in the late 1950s was experiencing a population explosion thanks to Gidget and other beachy Hollywood films, as well as the innovation from wood to lighter and easier-to-maneuver foam surfboards. Boards were still around ten feet in length, clunky compared to today's standards, and relatively dangerous. They had the potential to inflict a lot of damage on someone. (In the late 1960s, surfboards would undergo a revolution, shrinking to nearly half as long as the overriding philosophy went from stylishly walking up and down the board to making radical direction changes.) During a hurricane swell, my dad paddled out on his longboard and wiped out on a pretty big wave. The board came straight up and hit him between the legs, which caused them to turn black and blue from his waist to his knees. He claimed that if there hadn't been another guy in the water to drag him out, and a really cute girl on the beach to drive him home, he would have drowned.

After my dad finished high school, his parents moved two hours south to Cocoa Beach. My dad stayed in Daytona. When he was nineteen, his mother died from throat cancer. After her death, my grandfather decided to remain in Cocoa Beach and live on his own. A few years later he was in a pretty serious car accident, and my dad went down from Daytona to take care of him for a while. My grandfather recovered pretty quickly, but by that point, my dad had fallen in love with Cocoa Beach -- the area had a way of sucking people in and keeping them there. He got a job as a construction worker, and once he got in the swing of the surf scene, he couldn't leave. Cocoa Beach was Partyville, U.S.A., and the waves were tailormade for the boards of the day. (The local contingent, made up of Claude Codgen, Mike Tabeling, Gary Propper, and Dick Catri, was the best on the East Coast.) But since alcoholism ran in the family, Partyville was the last place my dad needed to be ...

Pipe Dreams. Copyright © by Kelly Slater. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Kelly Slater is a world-champion surfer who came out of semi-retirement in 2002. When he has time he sings with his band, The Surfers. He owns the Kelly Slater Boardrider's Club, a clothing and surf shop in Los Angeles, where he lives.

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Pipe Dreams: A Surfer's Journey 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
notombstone More than 1 year ago
Loved the book, Kelly is really a likible guy with tons of talent and wisdom beyond his peers. He really opened himself to the reader with many personal thoughts. Keep going Kelly, get the 10th.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pipe Dreams by Jason Borte is a biography about pro-surfer Kelly Slater. In the book Pipe Dreams, it tells the story of Kelly Slater's life as a child and also the surf adventures he has had growing up. This book also tells the process of how he came to be one of the best and most well known pro-surfers in the world. This book is very adventurous, exciting, and comical. Pipe Dreams inspires the reader to do what they love the most no matter what people may say. Pipe Dreams also mentions stories and deaths of other very famous pro-surfers and also some of the best places in the world to surf at such as, The North Shore, Jaws, Mavericks, and the very famous Pipeline. Pipe Dreams is a very well told story of pro-surfer Kelly Slater's life adventures.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book, Pipe Dreams is a biography of the six-time world champion Kelly Slater. From the moment you begin to read his story, you get drawn in. The way the book is written, it makes you feel like your right there every step of the way and witnessing histroy being made. It gives you a mental image of the goals and dreams that he achieved. Slater is now known as one of the World's Greatest Surfer's. Kelly has earned the respect and crediblility from his peers and idols, and made friends with people he thought he would never get a chance to meet. This book was very well written and helps you understand who Kelly really is. I truely enjoyed this book from beginning to end. It gives you a better understanding of Kelly's life and what it was like for him growing up. You will see where Kelly's smooth, creative, and unique style comes from. I like this book because Slater helps you feel the rush of the wave. Although Slater sruggled in life, he is very successful and for that he is an inspiration to me. I would recommend this book to readers who are interested in surfing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Growing up I have always been a fan of Kelly Slater. I was anxious to read this book in hopes of getting to know a more personal level of Kelly Slater. Unfortunately, I was left with a lot of questions. I enjoyed the book but would like to know more about his personal life than his timeline of surf contests. I read about that in the paper and mags. I loved his sense of humor. Anyway, Kelly Slater is awesome!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am so glad Kelly Slater decided to have something like this published. It was the best book I have ever read. Kelly Slater has been my idol for quite sometime now, and I have known so much about him. Now, I know even more about him, and I'm the happiest ever because he has inspired me, and hopefully it is an inspiring book to others.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm only 17 but this book is the best. After reading it I felt like I knew alot about him but really this book does not even begin to scratch the surface of his life. I hope he does write another book more indepth but I bet this book was already tough enough to write. The last time I went to New Port Beach the surf was maybe 2-3 feet, so I know how it feels to surf those little waves. I guess everyone has to learn somewhere. Not everywhere has waves like Pipeline.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I purchased a second copy at a book signing. Kelly and Jason's candid style makes the 6-time world champ accessible to an interested audience. True, some of the accounts of the surf contests require previous experience with the sport, but readers should catch on easily. In terms of writing style and layout, the book is a series of anecdotes. Some of the accounts are surprisingly humorous. Notable oddities include descriptions of board shorts with redundant phrasiology and a teen magazine-esque set of lists in the back. The 31-year old Slater does make a pitch for changes in surf competition. While this tome isn't the best example of biographical literature, it does provide sufficient detail and humor to engage readers looking for insight into the spectre of fame or looking for something 'Slater'. Kelly admits to be working on a technique book of his own. That will be something active surfers will want to check out. This book has a wider appeal; it succeeds in providing insight into Kelly's life and goals.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you surf...this one is for you. None of us will know what its like to be the best surfer of all time. this book gives you some insight. While he appears to be perfect on the outside, we can see he's more like us than we knew.
Guest More than 1 year ago
great story for all ages
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a life. Wish i could make such a great living off of surfing. tells the whole story from birth to age 31. Great motivator for younger kids to make there dreams happen. Hopefully he will come out with a second book about the last half of his life.