Enter The Dark Horse – Chris Ward Cometh

Rookies usually look out of place their first few ‘CT events. Surrounded by heroes and surfing’s biggest names, they find that it takes time for real hunger to outweigh the sense of achievement they’re feeling. Meanwhile, experienced world-tour competitors eat it up. Without the right frame of mind, rookies quickly find themselves questioning whether or not they’re even in the right place. In 2004, Bruce Irons, who’s been hailed by everyone in surfing worth listening to as the next huge thing on the tour, spent his rookie year in the cellar of the Top 45, until a late-season burst catapulted him into re-qualification on the final day of the World Championship Tour. In February of this year, Bruce was crowned the ASP’s 2004 Rookie of the Year. Lesson: to simply re-qualify on your first year of the ‘CT is a huge accomplishment.Enter Chris Ward. He’s been hailed as a potential world-title contender for more than a decade, although his road to qualification has been bumpy at best. After a couple disappointing years groveling for points on the WQS, California’s wild regular-footer finally qualified for “the show.” Like Bruce in 2004, a lot is expected of Wardo. His surfing is spontaneous, explosive, and always progressive-attributes that used to lose you points in contests. But as the tour becomes more accepting of “new surfing,” Wardo looks more and more like the contender his fans have purported him to be since before he had a driver’s license.

The following interview was conducted during the opening WCT event of 2005, Chris Ward’s first event on surfing’s biggest stage.-TWS

Sitting with Wardo in the competitors’ area after his first heat of the Quiksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks, I stick the tape recorder in his face and press record …

TWS: Is it sinking in?

Ward: It feels great, like I’m in the place I’m supposed to be. I’m kind of just taking notes and watching heats now. I was in the first heat this morning and had a close one with Darren O’Rafferty. But I’m not letting my guard down. I’m getting ready for the next round, which will be man-on-man. I’ll be trying my hardest and not holding back at all.

There must have been plenty of times in the past few years when you doubted this moment was ever going to happen.

I always knew it was going to happen, but it was just about when I would put it all together and actually break that ice barrier. The last couple years I was stopped, but now I feel free and can actually go out and freesurf in heats. That’s what I’ve been doing the last few contests, and that’s what brought me here. So that’s what I’m here for, just to go all out.

What else contributed to you finally qualifying last year?

Mainly being more relaxed. I knew it was coming, so I tried to surf heats as best I could in the four-man format. Now it’s going to be a big change on the ‘CT, and I’m going to learn a lot of things this year. I’m going to try my hardest.

How did you deal with those years of almost qualifying, but narrowly missing out?

You can either burn out and get over it, or break through the ice. The last couple years I was right there at that level, but never pushed the envelope enough. Last year I knew I needed results in the big six-star WQS events, so that’s where I really put my main focus, and it all came together. When was it official?

After I made two finals in a row in France, one in Lacanau and then in Hossegor. I had to seal it there and get over 9,000 points. I was shooting for 10,000, but I knew anything over nine was in.

You must’ve had a big night after that second final.

Well, I still knew nothing was official until the whole year was over. Especially after the last few years of people telling me I was in, when it turned out I wasn’t yet. I didn’t listen to anybody and actually had to wait until today (laughs). This is the first day I’ve felt it.

How different is the setup here compared to WQS events?

So much better. Better waves, everybody is amped andotivated, and it’s a lot more fun. The waves are insane at all the spots, and to be here at Snapper and actually surfing heats … Last couple of years I came here and wasn’t in the contest, so it felt like I was in the wrong spot. Now to be in is great, and I’m going to push my level as hard as I can.

In 2004, there were a lot of expectations of Bruce (Irons) during his first year on tour. How are you feeling about the pressures, especially after watching what he went through last year?

I knew Bruce was going to make it at some point, and it all came together at the end. He’s always made finals at Pipe, so I didn’t have any doubt in my mind that he was going to make it. I knew for sure he would. So I’m not really worried about trying to make it. I just want to have fun and surf as well as I can in my heats and see where that takes me.

How have you dealt with hype and expectations during your career?I’ve always wanted to be a title contender, and I think that’s why I’m here. I’ve actually been told by my sponsors in the past they didn’t want me doing the WQS, so I had to let them know I wasn’t just a freesurfer. I want to do it and put things together in competition and be amongst the top 44 greatest surfers in the world.

I wanted to ask you about …Lost. They made no secrets about being “anti-tour” a few years back. But now with you and teamriders like Cory and Shea Lopez on the WCT, things have changed.

Yeah (laughs), things obviously changed for the better. We’re competing against the best guys in the best waves, so it comes down to the best surfer in the end. I’m really glad to be a part of that and will be trying my best to win that title, too.

In the past, we definitely saw similarities between you and Andy (Irons) when he first made the tour. I mean, whenever I used to hear about dramas around WQS events, your name usually seemed to pop up.

Yeah, traveling from contest to contest, you’ve got to have fun and not take things too seriously. That’s probably why I’m still here. You definitely go through stages and maybe get in trouble once in a while, but you grow up and out of it. Now it’s time to put it all together with a focused mind and go out there and rip.

Seeing Andy turn his life around, from falling off the WCT to re-qualifying and now having three consecutive titles, must have inspired you.

Andy’s always pushed me since we were little groms. Just to see him at this level, going for his fourth world title is insane. It’s something I always wanted and still want. Now he’s done it before me and is unstoppable at this point. But I want to be one of the guys who can maybe stop him. Not saying this year necessarily, but over the next few years to come, hopefully I can turn things around just as well as he did. He’s done a really good job of holding his composure and surfing insane. He’s really pushed the level of surfing.These days the tour is made up of your generation of surfers, from Andy and Bruce to the “Cooly Kids” (Mick Fanning, Dean Morrison, Joel Parkinson, etc.) instead of the older guys. It must feel like your time now.

Yeah, everything has really come together. You just never give up and keep trying and hold your head up high and things will pull through. Not giving up is the main motivation.

You had a baby daughter when you were really young.

I was eighteen when Malia was born. It’s been a great experience. I was a young father, and now I’ve gone through a lot in my life. The kind of things most people don’t go through until they’re 40, so I’ve learned a lot and grown up really fast. It’s been good for me, and I’m really stoked about that. She’s going into second grade now and reads faster than me (laughs). She’s pretty damn smart. A few years ago I was reading her books, and now she’s reading me books (laughs) and beating me when we play ABC games while I’m driving-she’ll be on W, and I’ll still be on C.

That must have given you a different perspective than most surfers your age on tour.

Definitely a positive plus in my life, for sure. I want more children, too. My girlfriend and I are really close, so maybe in the future. I don’t want any gray hairs yet (laughs).

How about the surfers on tour? We’ve spoken about a couple, but obviously these are the top 45 in the world.

Every year the tour has come to my home spot, Trestles, and every year I tried to get a wildcard spot, but I never did, so that really pushed me to make it as well. I wanted to be in those contests so badly. I knew I could beat those guys at Lowers. They surf well, but it’s my spot. Instead of getting pissed in a bad way, I took it and put my energy into a good way.

Who are you going to be traveling with most of the year?

Not anyone in particular, but mainly my girlfriend. We’re all going to the same spots, and we get along-like Cory, Andy, Bruce, an

d Shea. Also Timmy Reyes, another rookie, so it’s going to be a fun year.The following morning Wardo began his first ever man-on-man WCT heat against Kalani Robb with a 9.5. He then posted the only perfect ten of the Quiksilver Pro a couple rides later, loudly announcing his presence with the highest combined total of the tournament. Next heat he took down Taj Burrow, and afterward we sat down for a few more comments …

Obviously the WCT is suiting your surfing.

I’m just taking it one step at a time, but I’m trying to gather it all and go forward with it. Everybody has been surfing insane this whole contest-the Irons brothers, Slater, they all pump me up. I’ve just been watching all day, going, “Wow, I can’t wait to get out there!” I wasn’t going to let it slip out of my hands. I kept it under control and tried to pick the right waves, which allowed me to do what I needed to do, so I was really stoked.

Everyone was expecting the heat with Taj to be a state-of-the-art display of aerials, but it turned out to be a carving show, at least until the end when you nailed that huge boost.

Yeah, I saw Taj carving and throwing it up into the lip, and I love doing carves, too, so I dug into a few and seemed to get speed out of them. I just surfed the waves as long as I could and was stoked to get some scores.

How did it feel to get that ten and the 9.5 in your first man-on-man heat? Must have installed a bit of confidence.

It definitely put confidence and drive into my next round and that heat with Taj. I guess it showed. I’m just stoked to be here. I want to remain here, so I can’t be losing in the early rounds (laughs).

Let’s talk about that ten. It’s the only one of the event, and to collect that at the beginning of your WCT career is obviously impressive. You started the ride with a massive air, then pulled everything out of your bag of tricks. It must have felt amazing to have that all come together.

Yeah. I guess I’ve been doing that kind of freesurfing since I was young at Trestles, for like ten years now, so to actually do it in a heat was awesome.I saw you thanking Martin Potter for some advice he’d given you before the heat.He told me to stay on the waves as long as I felt I needed to and build my momentum up throughout the heat and don’t go all out too fast. One step at a time.

It’s got to feel good to have heroes like Pottz (Martin Potter) and all the guys here congratulating you on your performances.

Cheyne Horan, Pottz, all the boys (laughs)-it’s so great to see everyone here and be part of the ASP culture. I’m really stoked to have them patting me on the back, encouraging me, and adding to my drive. Having those guys say I did great feels so good.

A couple hours later, after taking out Slater and then Tom Whitaker to reach the finals of his first-ever WCT contest, we cross paths again under the Rainbow Bay Surf Lifesaving Club. Wardo’s just washed off the beer he was sprayed with while on stage celebrating his runner-up finish to Mick Fanning …

How about now? You just took out Kelly and made your first final.

I’ve been dreaminr age on tour.

Definitely a positive plus in my life, for sure. I want more children, too. My girlfriend and I are really close, so maybe in the future. I don’t want any gray hairs yet (laughs).

How about the surfers on tour? We’ve spoken about a couple, but obviously these are the top 45 in the world.

Every year the tour has come to my home spot, Trestles, and every year I tried to get a wildcard spot, but I never did, so that really pushed me to make it as well. I wanted to be in those contests so badly. I knew I could beat those guys at Lowers. They surf well, but it’s my spot. Instead of getting pissed in a bad way, I took it and put my energy into a good way.

Who are you going to be traveling with most of the year?

Not anyone in particular, but mainly my girlfriend. We’re all going to the same spots, and we get along-like Cory, Andy, Bruce, an

d Shea. Also Timmy Reyes, another rookie, so it’s going to be a fun year.The following morning Wardo began his first ever man-on-man WCT heat against Kalani Robb with a 9.5. He then posted the only perfect ten of the Quiksilver Pro a couple rides later, loudly announcing his presence with the highest combined total of the tournament. Next heat he took down Taj Burrow, and afterward we sat down for a few more comments …

Obviously the WCT is suiting your surfing.

I’m just taking it one step at a time, but I’m trying to gather it all and go forward with it. Everybody has been surfing insane this whole contest-the Irons brothers, Slater, they all pump me up. I’ve just been watching all day, going, “Wow, I can’t wait to get out there!” I wasn’t going to let it slip out of my hands. I kept it under control and tried to pick the right waves, which allowed me to do what I needed to do, so I was really stoked.

Everyone was expecting the heat with Taj to be a state-of-the-art display of aerials, but it turned out to be a carving show, at least until the end when you nailed that huge boost.

Yeah, I saw Taj carving and throwing it up into the lip, and I love doing carves, too, so I dug into a few and seemed to get speed out of them. I just surfed the waves as long as I could and was stoked to get some scores.

How did it feel to get that ten and the 9.5 in your first man-on-man heat? Must have installed a bit of confidence.

It definitely put confidence and drive into my next round and that heat with Taj. I guess it showed. I’m just stoked to be here. I want to remain here, so I can’t be losing in the early rounds (laughs).

Let’s talk about that ten. It’s the only one of the event, and to collect that at the beginning of your WCT career is obviously impressive. You started the ride with a massive air, then pulled everything out of your bag of tricks. It must have felt amazing to have that all come together.

Yeah. I guess I’ve been doing that kind of freesurfing since I was young at Trestles, for like ten years now, so to actually do it in a heat was awesome.I saw you thanking Martin Potter for some advice he’d given you before the heat.He told me to stay on the waves as long as I felt I needed to and build my momentum up throughout the heat and don’t go all out too fast. One step at a time.

It’s got to feel good to have heroes like Pottz (Martin Potter) and all the guys here congratulating you on your performances.

Cheyne Horan, Pottz, all the boys (laughs)-it’s so great to see everyone here and be part of the ASP culture. I’m really stoked to have them patting me on the back, encouraging me, and adding to my drive. Having those guys say I did great feels so good.

A couple hours later, after taking out Slater and then Tom Whitaker to reach the finals of his first-ever WCT contest, we cross paths again under the Rainbow Bay Surf Lifesaving Club. Wardo’s just washed off the beer he was sprayed with while on stage celebrating his runner-up finish to Mick Fanning …

How about now? You just took out Kelly and made your first final.

I’ve been dreaming I could do this good and perform in these types of contests. It’s my second WCT ever. My first was when I was fifteen in 1996 (the U.S. Open in Huntington, California). I got a wildcard, but lost in the first round after getting an interference. I didn’t know anything about the priority rule and someone went right when I took off left. Blew my chances there, so I just want to do the best I can now.

Had you ever surfed against Slater man-on-man?No, that was my first time. It started off slow, but I reminded myself it’s up to either of us-it’s a match. The guy who gets the better waves and does the maneuvers wins. I just tried really hard and wasn’t going to give up at all. When I moved ahead and got an edge on him, I tried to keep the momentum and find more good waves. Basically just freesurfing.

I wanted to do well. I knew it was my first event and if I shined in this event, I’d be recognized in the future. I want to take it from here on to another level, too. Go to Bells and put a wetsuit on … I’m used to that and have a crack at the Bell. Tahiti after that, and I’m really comfortable in big lefts. I can’t wait to just be high up on the ratings. It’s a great start for this year, and I really want to go all out for the title.

Just being second today shows I’m a contender, so I’m looking forward to all the coming events. Trestles at home … I’m going to win one of these suckers, so watch out (laughs). I want to win, and that’s the attitude to go with it.Andy Irons walks past and gives a shout out to Wardo.

Yeah, Andy, you’re the champ! Still the champ!What lessons did you learn here?

I learned a lot. A lot. There is only room for improvement.

Watching from the beach, wave selection seems key.I was really lucky in my second heat to get those two perfect waves that produced a 9.5 and a ten. I wanted every heat to be like that, but it isn’t, so you’ve got to go for the waves you can and do as much as you can on them. Go as big as you can.

The only guy who stopped you during the event was Mick, so what can you say about him?

Mick’s just a phenomenal surfer. He grew up here and knows this wave like the back of his hand. This is his backyard. I’m ready to take that back home to Trestles and give Parko, Andy, and whoever else some lessons. I know I can do it there, just like Mick knew what he could do here. It’s all about confidence and knowing the waves really well. Mick surfed super hard and clean. Super fast. Fastest guy on tour. I’m just stoked to have been the guy right next to him in the final and finish number two. I’m looking forward to the next few contests, and we’ll see what will happen in some gnarly big lefts. I’m just going to take it from here and stay consistent.

Second on the ratings must sound awesome.Doesn’t sound bad.

Sidebar

Comments From A Distinguished Peanut Gallery

“I think making the WCT is testament to his growth. He’s been trying for a few years. He really struggled getting close, and then having the heartbreak of not making it after people had actually told him he had made it already … two years in a row. That’s enough to really knock somebody back and make them give up, but to see him come back really shows his character. It seems to have made Wardo a better surfer and hungrier. I think he showed a lot of people during his first man-on-man-he really didn’t give Kalani a chance. To have his first man-on-man heat on tour with a ten and a 9.5 isn’t a bad start (laughs). That’s definitely going to build his confidence, but I hope he doesn’t think it’s so easy after just one heat!

“I expect Wardo to be the dark horse. I don’t think he’s ever going to run for a world title personally, but he’ll be one of those guys who are a threat at most any event. He’s really good in small surf, he charges big surf, he’s good in hollow waves, can do big maneuvers in beachbreaks-he’s really well-rounded, but I don’t know if he can bring that all together so much to make a world-title run. I don’t think anyone will underestimate him in any event he surfs in, though.”-Kelly Slater, prior to losing to Wardo in the quarterfinals

“Wardo’s one of my favorite surfers to watch. To see what he did first heat against Kalani was amazing. He’s nuts. He had to grovel to get through the WQS, but now he’s on tour, where the waves are good, and it’ll suit his style. I think he can win contests and be a threat.”-Andy Irons

“With Wardo you never know what you’re going to get. He’s a super-progressive, ultra-radical surfer, and he’s kind of that way in life, too. He’s always a real fun guy to be with. I’ve know him almost all my life, and I think he’s a breath of fresh air for the tour. Just to have someone as radical as him come in with a whole different mind-set and not worry about falling, but just going for what he usually does in freesurfs. It’s going to be a fun year watching him, and I’m expecting some big things out of him. He could be hot and cold throughout the year, but we’ll see.”-Cory Lopez

“I’ve known him a long time, and he’s a super, super talented surfer. Big powerful moves and huge airs, so he’s real dangerous. I don’t think Wardo will have the same problems I did on my rookie year-it seems like nothing really gets to him. The nerves don’t get to him like they did to me. If he just goes out there and surfs, he’ll do really well.”-Bruce Irons

“Obviously he’s had a good start to his first year on tour now. He’s got a good ‘go for it’ approach, and he’s used it since round one in this event, and it paid off. He’s thrown a couple wild turns in there and a couple punts, and it’s paid off. I’m sure it’ll set the bar for the rest of the year. Everyone will be throwing in a few punts for sure, since he’s definitely been rewarded for it. I didn’t expect him to be coming on this strong. Finals of the first event on your firs

t year is huge.”-Taj Burrow, after losing to Wardo in round three”I think it’s about time Chris Ward’s on the tour. He’s had the surfing ability for years now, but I guess along the mold of Andy and Bruce Irons, once this kid gets his shit together, I reckon the world is going to stand up and take notice. The guy belongs in the top 44.”-Martin Potter, 1989 World Champion and early aerial master

-Faeno could do this good and perform in these types of contests. It’s my second WCT ever. My first was when I was fifteen in 1996 (the U.S. Open in Huntington, California). I got a wildcard, but lost in the first round after getting an interference. I didn’t know anything about the priority rule and someone went right when I took off left. Blew my chances there, so I just want to do the best I can now.

Had you ever surfed against Slater man-on-man?No, that was my first time. It started off slow, but I reminded myself it’s up to either of us-it’s a match. The guy who gets the better waves and does the maneuvers wins. I just tried really hard and wasn’t going to give up at all. When I moved ahead and got an edge on him, I tried to keep the momentum and find more good waves. Basically just freesurfing.

I wanted to do well. I knew it was my first event and if I shined in this event, I’d be recognized in the future. I want to take it from here on to another level, too. Go to Bells and put a wetsuit on … I’m used to that and have a crack at the Bell. Tahiti after that, and I’m really comfortable in big lefts. I can’t wait to just be high up on the ratings. It’s a great start for this year, and I really want to go all out for the title.

Just being second today shows I’m a contender, so I’m looking forward to all the coming events. Trestles at home … I’m going to win one of these suckers, so watch out (laughs). I want to win, and that’s the attitude to go with it.Andy Irons walks past and gives a shout out to Wardo.

Yeah, Andy, you’re the champ! Still the champ!What lessons did you learn here?

I learned a lot. A lot. There is only room for improvement.

Watching from the beach, wave selection seems key.I was really lucky in my second heat to get those two perfect waves that produced a 9.5 and a ten. I wanted every heat to be like that, but it isn’t, so you’ve got to go for the waves you can and do as much as you can on them. Go as big as you can.

The only guy who stopped you during the event was Mick, so what can you say about him?

Mick’s just a phenomenal surfer. He grew up here and knows this wave like the back of his hand. This is his backyard. I’m ready to take that back home to Trestles and give Parko, Andy, and whoever else some lessons. I know I can do it there, just like Mick knew what he could do here. It’s all about confidence and knowing the waves really well. Mick surfed super hard and clean. Super fast. Fastest guy on tour. I’m just stoked to have been the guy right next to him in the final and finish number two. I’m looking forward to the next few contests, and we’ll see what will happen in some gnarly big lefts. I’m just going to take it from here and stay consistent.

Second on the ratings must sound awesome.Doesn’t sound bad.

Sidebar

Comments From A Distinguished Peanut Gallery

“I think making the WCT is testament to his growth. He’s been trying for a few years. He really struggled getting close, and then having the heartbreak of not making it after people had actually told him he had made it already … two years in a row. That’s enough to really knock somebody back and make them give up, but to see him come back really shows his character. It seems to have made Wardo a better surfer and hungrier. I think he showed a lot of people during his first man-on-man-he really didn’t give Kalani a chance. To have his first man-on-man heat on tour with a ten and a 9.5 isn’t a bad start (laughs). That’s definitely going to build his confidence, but I hope he doesn’t think it’s so easy after just one heat!

“I expect Wardo to be the dark horse. I don’t think he’s ever going to run for a world title personally, but he’ll be one of those guys who are a threat at most any event. He’s really good in small surf, he charges big surf, he’s good in hollow waves, can do big maneuvers in beachbreaks-he’s really well-rounded, but I don’t know if he can bring that all together so much to make a world-title run. I don’t think anyone will underestimate him in any event he surfs in, though.”-Kelly Slater, prior to losing to Wardo in the quarterfinals

“Wardo’s one of my favorite surfers to watch. To see what he did first heat against Kalani was amazing. He’s nuts. He had to grovel to get through the WQS, but now he’s on tour, where the waves are good, and it’ll suit his style. I think he can win contests and be a threat.”-Andy Irons

“With Wardo you never know what you’re going to get. He’s a super-progressive, ultra-radical surfer, and he’s kind of that way in life, too. He’s always a real fun guy to be with. I’ve know him almost all my life, and I think he’s a breath of fresh air for the tour. Just to have someone as radical as him come in with a whole different mind-set and not worry about falling, but just going for what he usually does in freesurfs. It’s going to be a fun year watching him, and I’m expecting some big things out of him. He could be hot and cold throughout the year, but we’ll see.”-Cory Lopez

“I’ve known him a long time, and he’s a super, super talented surfer. Big powerful moves and huge airs, so he’s real dangerous. I don’t think Wardo will have the same problems I did on my rookie year-it seems like nothing really gets to him. The nerves don’t get to him like they did to me. If he just goes out there and surfs, he’ll do really well.”-Bruce Irons

“Obviously he’s had a good start to his first year on tour now. He’s got a good ‘go for it’ approach, and he’s used it since round one in this event, and it paid off. He’s thrown a couple wild turns in there and a couple punts, and it’s paid off. I’m sure it’ll set the bar for the rest of the year. Everyone will be throwing in a few punts for sure, since he’s definitely been rewarded for it. I didn’t expect him to be coming on this strong. Finals of the first event on your firs

t year is huge.”-Taj Burrow, after losing to Wardo in round three”I think it’s about time Chris Ward’s on the tour. He’s had the surfing ability for years now, but I guess along the mold of Andy and Bruce Irons, once this kid gets his shit together, I reckon the world is going to stand up and take notice. The guy belongs in the top 44.”-Martin Potter, 1989 World Champion and early aerial master

-Faenod-title run. I don’t think anyone will underestimate him in any event he surfs in, though.”-Kelly Slater, prior to losing to Wardo in the quarterfinals

“Wardo’s one of my favorite surfers to watch. To see what he did first heat against Kalani was amazing. He’s nuts. He had to grovel to get through the WQS, but now he’s on tour, where the waves are good, and it’ll suit his style. I think he can win contests and be a threat.”-Andy Irons

“With Wardo you never know what you’re going to get. He’s a super-progressive, ultra-radical surfer, and he’s kind of that way in life, too. He’s always a real fun guy to be with. I’ve know him almost all my life, and I think he’s a breath of fresh air for the tour. Just to have someone as radical as him come in with a whole different mind-set and not worry about falling, but just going for what he usually does in freesurfs. It’s going to be a fun year watching him, and I’m expecting some big things out of him. He could be hot and cold throughout the year, but we’ll see.”-Cory Lopez

“I’ve known him a long time, and he’s a super, super talented surfer. Big powerful moves and huge airs, so he’s real dangerous. I don’t think Wardo will have the same problems I did on my rookie year-it seems like nothing really gets to him. The nerves don’t get to him like they did to me. If he just goes out there and surfs, he’ll do really well.”-Bruce Irons

“Obviously he’s had a good start to his first year on tour now. He’s got a good ‘go for it’ approach, and he’s used it since round one in this event, and it paid off. He’s thrown a couple wild turns in there and a couple punts, and it’s paid off. I’m sure it’ll set the bar for the rest of the year. Everyone will be throwing in a few punts for sure, since he’s definitely been rewarded for it. I didn’t expect him to be coming on this strong. Finals of the first event on your firs

t year is huge.”-Taj Burrow, after losing to Wardo in round three”I think it’s about time Chris Ward’s on the tour. He’s had the surfing ability for years now, but I guess along the mold of Andy and Bruce Irons, once this kid gets his shit together, I reckon the world is going to stand up and take notice. The guy belongs in the top 44.”-Martin Potter, 1989 World Champion and early aerial master

-Faeno