Born on the Florida coastline with a name like Trout, it’s hard to imagine Slater could have taken to anything but the ocean. When he was just 11 he chose to begin his stand up paddling (SUP) career, despite being apart of the short-board surfing generation. In love with the feeling of literally standing on top of water, Trout started splitting his time between the gym and the ocean, deciding to forgo college in order to better dominate the sport to which he has dedicated the majority of his life. We caught up with Trout after he returned from Nicaragua where, at 19 years of age, he was representing the U.S. in the Stand Up Paddle Racing World Championships.

MORE INTERESTING PEOPLE: Andrew Skurka, Hiker | Jeff Carvalho, Influencer | Ben Saunders, Explorer

Q.
What’s one thing every man should know?
A.
The importance of being a gentleman. Something as simple as holding the door open for a woman can go a long way.

Q.
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
A.
I moved away from my family fresh out of high school at 18 years old. I am living on my own, paying my own bills and staying focused on my career. That initial move was the hardest, but most rewarding thing I have ever done.

Q.
What are you working on right now?
A.
I am right in the middle of my competitive season, so I’m training 6 hours a day, 6 days a week for my up coming Stand Up Paddle races that take place throughout the summer.

Right now traveling the world and experiencing life will teach me more than any classroom or teacher.

Q.
Name one thing you can’t live without.
A.
The Ocean.

Q:
Who or what influences you?
A:
My father is my greatest influence. He has this infectious will to win and be successful that has clearly rubbed off on me.

Q.
What are you reading right now?
A.
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer.

Q.
Name one thing no one knows about you.
A.
I enjoy theatre and acting. I was part of a children’s chorus and theatre for years when I was younger. That’s not the type of thing that usually comes up in the surf lineup or on the start line of a SUP race!

Q.
It’s your last drink and meal on earth. What’ll it be?
A.
A glass of room temperature water with scrambled eggs, toast, and avocado. So pretty much my breakfast every morning. Not exactly the most luxurious thing on earth, but it’s what I love before getting in the water.

Q.
I know you’re only 19, but if you could go back and tell your 16 year old self something, what would you say?
A.
I would tell myself that the next three years of my life are going to be the best yet. Don’t change one thing! I have no regrets.

Q.
How do you want to be remembered?
A.
Influential.

Q.
When you began your stand up paddling (SUP) career, you were 11 years old. What drew you to SUP versus more traditional surfing at that age?
A.
Stand Up Paddling was a brand new sport and I loved the thought of helping to create, and grow up with, a sport as it develops. I have spent half of my life with this sport. We are both so young and have so much to learn about ourselves.

Q.
At what moment did you realize, ‘I could do this as my profession’?
A.
When I was 14, I finished 2nd at the Battle of the Paddle in California. It’s our sport’s biggest race and my life changed forever when I crossed that finish line.

Q.
What was your favorite part of representing the U.S. at this month’s Stand Up Paddle Racing World Championships?
A.
The feeling of representing the United States on an international level is incomparable to anything I have ever done. It is the highest honor in sport, to represent your country. Being wrapped in the stars and stripes after my races was the best part.

Q.
If SUP events came to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, what would be your ideal event?
A.
Sprint and technical racing or SUP Cross. I like the fury of the fast paced events and they suit my skills well.

Q.
Are you considering any colleges for a degree in the future, or is your main focus on paddling right now?
A.
Right now my main focus is paddling. If I feel like I need a degree in something, I will go back school in the future but I’m in no rush. Right now traveling the world and experiencing life will teach me more than any classroom or teacher. I have an amazing opportunity that is not to be wasted, so I’m soaking it all in!

PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY.
KETEL ONE® Vodka. Distilled from Wheat. 40% Alc/Vol. ©2014 Imported by Ketel One USA, Aliso Viejo, CA.