Our eyes are on Slater Trout
"Dudes, it' firing out there!" Trout says. "Let's get it. We're in Indo!"
Even though he's been paddling for nearly a decade, he's still a grom. At Kandui Resort, where Dave Boehne, Trout and I are staying, outside of surfing, there's not much to do. Play ping pong. Read a book. Eat. Watch a surf movie. Sleep. Surf.
Boehne and I need rest between sessions. Trout always wants to go right back out.
But the wind's on it and there's plenty of swell for an evening session. We pass.
"Slater's the man, but he has so much energy," Boehne says. "Sometimes I have to remind him that I'm almost twice his age."
Trout is un-phased by our lack of commitment. He heads back out.
When he does take breaks, he's using the down time to build his brand. By my count, in the 10 days we're in Indonesia, he posts 19 Instagram photos to the tune of 48, 946 "likes" and 477 comments.
And then he gets back in the water.
Standup has changed a lot in the six years since Trout's marquee performance at the Battle.
Standup has changed a lot in the six years since Trout's marquee performance at the Battle. Racing has become a legitimate sport and the bar has been raised. Racers are getting faster. People who started paddling three years ago are fighting for podiums today.
"The level of competition is getting insane," Trout says. "Guys are getting so fast. I think it's just going to keep progressing. With my lifestyle, I've been lucky to keep up with that progression."
Some people think Trout is already over the hill. But at 20, it seems like it's just a matter of figuring out what he wants. When he puts his mind to something, he gets it done.
Take his "Northern Waters" project from his trip to Norway and Iceland with his buddy Connor Davidge. They wanted to make a book, so they made a Kickstarter page to fund it with the goal of raising $10,000. The book—featuring Trout's photography—comes out this fall.
"I don't know what I was thinking about at 20 but it wasn't that," Casey said. "I'm super proud. And now, since they made this one, they want to do another."
Then there was the 2015 ISAs. While it wasn't his best individual performance—partly due to his "Northern Waters" trip ending less than a month prior—Trout was instrumental in helping get the gold medal-winning team together.
"(In 2014) I went down there and it was one of the best events of my life," he says. "I came back and I was like, ‘Next year we have to build the best team.' Every time I saw Candice (Appleby) I was like, ‘You've got to come to this event.' Danny (Ching), we train together five days a week, we're neighbors. I'd always put the bug in his ear. Jack Bark (prone paddler) is my best friend and I nagged him every day. And the week before, we had spots confirmed for all three of those people. It was huge and it changed everything."
The US Team walked away with the gold at the most competitive ISA World Championships yet. Trout sees it as a stepping stone to a larger stage.
"I'm going to stick with standup until it gets into the Olympics," he says. "It's my dream."
Ching, who trains with Trout in the South Bay of Los Angeles and is one of the most well-respected racers in the sport, sees the Olympic prospect as the goal that might get Trout engaged at the level he needs to be a champion, although the earliest SUP might hit the Olympics would be 2020.
"He's got all the gifts," Ching says. "Honestly though, he'll probably be better off in the next five or six years doing what he's doing as a marketable athlete and personality. It's not going to be important (to him) until the Pan Am Games or the Olympics. Then I see him gearing down and being good enough to pull it off."
And that's the crux of it: What does Slater Trout really want to do? To be a world champion racer? To be a free-surfing playboy? An Instagram celebrity? I don't think he knows himself. But when he decides—if he decides—he has the talent to make anything happen.
That, is Slater Trout.