It's no snap to catch the King

KING KELLY: Kelly Slater in action early one morning at Burleigh Heads.
KING KELLY: Kelly Slater in action early one morning at Burleigh Heads. Ellyse Andrew

TIMING is everything.

Being in the right place at the right time has its own natural rewards, although you can't count on luck alone. A combination of timing, luck and the most important ingredient - ability - is the catalyst to capturing the moment.

Burleigh Heads photographer of almost 12 months, Ellyse Andrew has been trying to snap off a shot of Kelly Slater for the past three months.

Ellyse, who is a swimming coach and takes photos as a hobby, lives on Burleigh Point overlooking the famous surfing location but had missed the elusive 11-times world champ in action in the Burleigh barrel.

"The waves have been pumping from March through to May," said the budding photographer, who loves to surf as well.

"I kept missing Kelly by a day or so, or would find out he was there on the days I worked."

Ellyse has travelled widely and appreciates art in all its forms, so it was only natural that she had a flair for taking photos on her overseas trips.

"I would take photos of my trips to show my friends and when I returned home decided to invest in a better camera for action shots," she said.

There's been some incredible surf at Burleigh this year, and some heavy waves accounting for even the most experienced, especially launching off the rocks at Sharky's.

"I've witnessed guys jumping off the end rocks at the Cove and getting completely smashed, breaking boards in half," said Ellyse, who has the utmost respect for the waves and locals at Burleigh.

Towards the end of the 20-day swell from April to May, Ellyse got lucky one Tuesday morning - although she could only spare about 15 minutes before work to snap off some sunrise barrels.

Burleigh can be one of most difficult locations to shoot due to the extreme light in the morning and, unless you're there before sun-up or have the sun behind you in the afternoon, your photos can turn out white hot.

Ellyse's boyfriend had given her the tip that he had spotted Kelly checking the waves on Tuesday morning May 8. Since the Bells Beach Rip Curl Pro at Easter, Slater has been on a free surfing agenda from Cloudbreak to G-Land prior to Brazil, and the current world ratings leader has been scoring perfect waves.

Some think he has that special magic that dials in waves like a surfing magnet, , although he did come off second-best on the G-Land reef with a deep cut to his heel and the all-important back foot that drives the KS turns.

Upon returning to the Gold Coast, which is like a second home for Kelly these days, he sought the doctor's help to reopen the cut rumoured to be stitched by fishing line, and remove some deadly coral.

"I decided to withdraw from Brazil to let my foot heal properly and not put pressure on it on the beachbreaks at Rio as the Billabong Pro will likely turn into an air event," the King conceded. But as they say, you can't keep a good man down or stop him from surfing when the waves are that good.

Ellyse had set her camera on shutter speed reeling off about 40 images and still had no idea that she might have clicked on Kelly.

"I kept noticing this guy pulling into the barrel and getting really deep, not really doing any big turns standing out amongst the rest of the local rippers," she said.

"When I got to view my photos, there was this bald-headed guy with a go pro (camera) in his hand and I thought that has to be Kelly!"

And indeed it was! Ellyse had finally got lucky, and now that photo, as depicted in this week's Surf Scene column, will be used in an auction as a fundraiser for born and bred Gold Coaster Peter Glen, who is seeking non-toxic chemotherapy treatment in Mexico.

The fundraiser will be held this Saturday in the upstairs Vikings room on top of Elephant Rock, Currumbin from 1pm.

It's free to the public, with a complimentary drink and nibbles.

Raffles and an auction with some great items going under the hammer including Ellyse's photo of Kelly at Burleigh, a custom Alan Byrne surfboard, and MP photos.

Photographer Ellyse Andrew

When I got to view my photos, there was this bald-headed guy with a go pro (camera) in his hand and I thought that has to be Kelly!

Topics:  burleigh heads kelly slater photographer