Oahu’s Waimea Bay is a popular tourist spot in Hawaii. Kelly Slater, however, rarely frequents this particular destination. The bay was the location of a possible vacation nightmare when father Chris White saw what he called a “freak wave” come and sweep away his wife and son. Sarah White, Chris White, and their son Van were visiting from Western Australia and hanging around the bay when the wave thrashed them across a road. Lucky for them, professional surfer and golfer Kelly Slater was there to put his exceptional swimming talents to use, saving the mother and toddler from further injury.
According to the Bleacher Report, Kelly Slater commented by saying the following.
“I didn’t look at it that way but for some random reason I stopped there when I normally don’t and happened to be there, Lifeguards were on it either way and had it handled. So glad all is well and we can (someday) laugh about it. Van’s first wave was a huge one!”
His humble response to the situation was prompted by Chris white, a surf photographer, posting a message on Instagram to thank Slater for taking the initiative to save his wife and 22-month-old son.
So thankful the surf gods denied @kellyslater today cos for whatever reason he was right there to save my wife and kid who were swept across a road by a freak wave today. Forever grateful to the great man and so thankful my family is alive and safe ???????? ❤️???? Thanks to all the lifeguards too who saved many lives today.
According to 7 News Perth, White had Van in a stroller and was walking along when the wave separated her from her son by shear force. They were walking along a footpath on a beach known locally as Rock Piles. The wave came like a steady current pulling the two with extreme power.
“When the wave hit, there was like 10 foot of whitewash in the air,” Chris told the Australian news agency. “They said there was 20 to 30 seconds where no one could see where either of them were.”
Slater then drove the two home and paid a visit the next day to check up on the family.
Surfing great saves mom and young son from 'freak wave' https://t.co/EaZJFYQuqR— SFGate (@SFGate) January 29, 2016
Sarah commented on the experience.
“It was like a tsunami, um, yeah, just a big flood of water. The only thing I was think of was ‘I don’t want my son to drown, I don’t want my son to drown’… I held onto that pram as long as I could, and there was a point where I got bumped and I let go. That’s when I thought ‘that’s it'”
It was just when she had given up that Slater arrived on the scene and pulled the stroller upright.
“It just shows how much of a legend he is.”
The Florida-born surfer has earned every bit of his status as a legend. Kelly Slater has claimed the title of World Surf League champion 11 times, an historic record in surfing. One which he stole from his childhood hero, Tom Curren, three-time world champion. At the Billabong Tahiti Pro contest, Slater became the first to be awarded two perfect scores under the ASP two-wave scoring system, a flawless 20 out of 20.
In 2014, Outside Magazine published an article titled, “Examining the perpetual youth and singular talent of surfing’s king.” Even at age 42, there seemed to be no stopping the man.
Not only is he known as a surfer, but also as a golfer and for his appearances in various films and television series since the early 90s, including Baywatch. The world-renown athlete still resides in Cocoa Beach, Florida, is in his mid-forties, and it would seem his exploits are indefatigable.
[Photo by John Sciulli/Getty Images]