Some surfers are delivered from childhood to surf stardom. Others have rockier paths. Sometimes there is more to learn from the latter. Kai Otton embraced all sports as a skinny grom, from football to riding dirt bikes. Although he is now a staple on the WSL World Tour, he simply didn’t have a junior career. Originally hailing from the off-the-radar town of Tathra, he drove to Australia’s more high profile spots, surfing events without a seed, and living out of his car. He surfed on his own and worked in surf shops and surf factories.
After four years of fighting in the qualifying ranks, Otten found himself on the ASP World Tour in 2007, at age 28, and was runner up for Rookie of the Year honors. Otton became known as a giant killer in his very first year on tour by beating Kelly Slater and ending his then-ninth World Title run.
Otton came out swinging in 2013. That October, Otton took out rookie sensation Nat Young for his maiden World Tour victory at the Rip Curl Pro Portugal. Riding on the momentum, he rode his way into the fifth round at the Pipeline Masters to finish the season No. 7 in the world. Otton maintains a low profile out of the water, letting his rail do the talking. A gifted athlete and tinkering musician, he is a valuable asset to the Reef team.