After winning the 2013 O'Neill Coldwater Classic, Torrey Meister was given a once-in-a-lifetime shot to make it to the big leagues of surfing: the World Championship Tour (WCT). We've been following Meister as he battles through the rigors of qualifying, loaded up with $50,000 to spend pursuing his dream. The World Qualifying Series (WQS) — a series of contests Meister will be surfing in this year — kicked off in January on the North Shore of Oahu, which is the perfect location for Meister to showcase his lightning-fast and absolutely fearless style of surfing.
You made it to the semifinals of the Volcom Pipe Pro. Tell us about your run through that event.
Surfing Pipeline with only three other guys is probably the coolest thing on Earth. You learn so much about the wave and where to line up. I haven't been in the Pipe Masters since 2009, so my main goal this year was to make the quarters or better to earn a spot into the masters. I was really nervous for my first heat. There is so much riding on this year, and it being the first event of the year I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well. But once I hit the water, all the pressure washed off me like it was never there and I really just enjoyed surfing Pipe.
I felt like I had a pretty good game plan for that event based on the way the conditions were and I kinda just stuck to that in each heat because it was working for me. It worked all the way to the semis, where I came up against other guys that were looking for the same kind of waves and I simply got out-positioned on the best waves in that heat. I was really happy with a semifinal finish, though, and I'm so stoked to compete in the Pipe Masters this year — that is a dream come true! [With his semifinal finish, Meister qualified for the 2014 Pipe Masters.]
When you're surfing Backdoor Pipeline, you seem to leave all fear and sense of self-preservation on the beach. Can you explain this?
Haha! Yeah, sometimes I don't make the smartest self-preservation decisions when I'm surfing a heat out at Pipe, but I'm just so excited I kind of lose my thoughts of danger or fear and just try to go on anything that looks good. I'm trying to make the heat, but at the same time if I'm blessed enough to be in the right place at the right time for the best wave of my life, I don't want to be thinking about the danger; I want to know that I am going to go. It may not always work out, but when it does, it is so worth it!
What are your top five favorite waves to surf on the North Shore of Oahu?
1) Pipe and Backdoor are my favorite waves on the North Shore — and in the world. I have always had so much respect for the wave. I remember one of the first times I surfed Backdoor I hit my face on the reef. It scared me so much, but at the same time the couple of fun waves I had before I hit my face were the best waves of my life. I was in love with the wave, and even though I had a cut under my lip that leaked every time I drank anything, I had to surf it again! I was mesmerized! I loved everything about Pipeline, even though it scared the crap out of me and still does.
2) Sunset Beach has always been one of my favorite waves. I think the thing I enjoy about Sunset the most is how much thinking you have to do when you surf it. You always have to do your homework. It's one of those waves that you can't just show up and think you are gonna rip. It is the most complicated wave I have ever surfed in my life and if you are not using lineups on the beach or experience that you have gained over years and years of surfing it, I promise you the wave will make you look like a kook.
3) Haleiwa is where I learned how to surf. It's also one of the most rippable waves on the North Shore.
4) Backyards has always been one of my favorite waves on the North Shore. I got my first barrel out there and I will never forget it.
5) Off the Wall is another wave I love. Some of the craziest waves I've ever seen have been at OTW, and most of the time, nobody is on them! Such a crazy wave …
Your goal this year is to qualify for the 2015 World Championship Tour. Did you watch the season-opening Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast and think to yourself, "I can do that. I can beat these guys!"?
The surfers on Tour are amazing and I respect every one of them. Getting to the level that they're at — and just to make it on the WCT — is such an accomplishment. These guys have put their heart and soul into their surfing and that is something that we have in common. I have put everything into my surfing since I was a kid and all I have ever wanted is to be on the WCT, and that is something that won't ever change. I will keep working and doing my best to get to where I want to be. I believe that hard work pays off and I will keep putting in the work until I am on the WCT, just like every guy that is in the top 34 has done. I think if I do make the WCT in 2015 I will have a lot to learn, but I can promise you one thing: I will put in the work to earn a spot on that Tour. As far as my level goes, I will let my surfing do the talking.