Out of the water Otto also shreds air guitar... and land guitar. (Onorati)

Defining Moments In The Life Of Kai Otton

The tour, fatherhood and more explored!

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Hey Otto, tell us about the time you…

Caught your first wave… I’d been bodyboarding for many years as it was all the rage in the early 90s. All my close friends were on the booger and I loved guys like Mike Stewart, Eppo, Bullet Mackenzie and Wingnut. When I turned 12 my world changed. In 1992 I paddled out at Tathra club house with one of dad’s old boards and caught a couple of waves. The sensation blew my mind and I never went back to my old Morey Mach 7SS again. I think it might still be under the house.

Saw your photo in a mag for the first time… I think it was a trip with Matty Bemrose, Tim Hanrahan and Brett Bannister to Samoa. We had a good little spread in a random mag that I cant even remember the name of. One of those mags that pops up with different shape and paper quality to the norm, then disappears soon after like a blown dandelion.

The day you qualified… It was just before my 63rd birthday, 2006, and I had to wait until the last WQS contest of the year at Sunset to try and qualify. When the event started I was making the cut at 14th (top 15 got in). I had a list and a black pen and as the comp progressed I began crossing out names of guys who could overtake me. Randomly a Brazilian guy named Ordeli Coutinho had to win the contest for me not to make it and I was crapping myself because he was dropping nines in every heat all the way to the quarters. I was like, “This cant be real!” But then he finally lost in the semis so I put a big black line through his name and we all went into Honolulu and sent it big time. Great night.

You won your first CT… It took me six years or roughly 60 WCT events to finally win one. That sounds like a rooted stat but it’s hard out there believe me! 2013 man, I was feeling it big time. My partner was pregnant and I kept telling my buddies at home I was going to win an event. I could feel it. I banked consecutive 5th place results in Trestles and France and I was on a roll heading down to Portugal. And I kept that momentum. All the waves came when I needed them and stayed away when I didn’t. When the hooter went I was tripping. It didn’t seem real at all. I was thinking about all my family and friends and the hard work I had to put in throughout my career. Mostly I thought about my Grand-dad, it was for him, he was my biggest fan. We had a big party that night and Fanning got blind and tackled me through a kitchen in a restaurant smashing shit all over the place. He also did a funny arse speech with crazy red wine gums which was classic Mick, pasting goofyfooters and calling me a whinger. I had haltered his Title run in the event but I could tell he was so stoked for me.

Became a dad… This is without question the greatest experience I can or will ever attain. Becoming a father is the best. Watching the birth was enlightening but also graphic to say the least. I have a deep, deep admiration for women and the whole childbearing process. Hardcore! Having so much love for someone is a crazy feeling. I seriously stare at the little dude in his sleeping bag tripping like, “You’re mine! I made you!” It’s such a weird thing. He walked a bit this past week. It gave me such a tremendous feeling. Watching kids learn, how they realise they have fingers and stare at them or bounce a ball, it’s all amazing. And it’s life altering. All of a sudden you can’t be selfish. No more, “I’m a surfer and I wanna surf always. Me, me, me!” Those days are over. But it’s worth it. I have a great partner who is such a great mother and we are cruising. We have been very, very lucky and I’m grateful every day.

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