Recently, TransWorld SURF had the good fortune of spending some time with Sunny Garcia at his California home. With a new WCT year looming, we felt nobody would be better for a preview than the man who has spent a majority of his life on tour as well as being the most outspoken. Look for Sunny’s Top 44 preview in the next issue (6#4) of TW SURF. On top of his outlook, he also took a few minutes with us to talk about the rehab on the knee as well as the controversial reality show North Shore Boardinghouse and it’s effects on his career. Many thanks to Sunny for his time and wisdom.—Checkwood
You were talking about your rehab earlier, what’s going on with your knee? What was it like before the surgery and what it’s like now?
Before the surgery I could pull my knee out—if I sat down-about an inch and a half. Now it only comes out a quarter of an inch, maybe a little more. I went in (to the doctor) in May and had surgery done to it after Bells ’cause my leg wasn’t feeling well. I could still compete and I still got two ninths in the first two events, but I didn’t feel like I could win so I went in and had my leg operated on. The Doc wanted to go in and do the least amount of surgery possible so he could get me back in the water. In September, I got back in the water and my knee wasn’t bugging me, but it still had a lot of play in it. The thought was right to go and do the least amount (of surgery) possible. I got back in time, but my leg still wasn’t anywhere I wanted it to be. In October, I went back in and had another surgery done. So now, after ten months, I’m just getting back in the water. There’s a lot of scar tissue and the muscles have atrophied quite a bit so I don’t have the same strength. I got forty days from now (the end of January) to hopefully get some strength back and get ready for Kirra. I’m looking to blow doors off when I get back at Kirra. Hopefully I can get there, be comfortable and not hurt, do well, then come back and get a little more training, and then go back to my favorite event at Bells. I always look to do well at that event.
What’s your training like for your knee? What’s your rehab right now? And how far along are you surf wise?
I do fifteen minutes on the bike before. My whole garage is a gym. I do legs, I do upper body, I stretch, and then when I’m done I do another forty minutes on the bike for cardio. After I’m done at that, I go and have my shake and then I go down for a surf. I’ve been trying to diet and lose weight, but when you’ve been a couch potato for ten months it’s a little hard to just get up and off, start working out, and drop the weight. I’m optimistic, for ten months I was kind of depressed—I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t ride my dirt bike, couldn’t surf—I could barely walk around. Now that I can get back to training and surf, I’m in pain, but I’m just happy to be doing something. I have a goal to be ready in 40 days—in 40 days I’m gonna be ready for Kirra even if I’m not 100 percent. I’m still gonna give somebody a hard time.
Has the TV show been good for your career? What’s your overall feeling from the whole experience?
The only thing I didn’t like about the show was they showed me slapping all these people with no results like, “Yeah, I just slap you for looking at my wife. What they didn’t show was the guy at the bar grabbing my wife trying to pull her out of her seat. One guy was standing between my wife’s legs while she’s sleeping on the beach and my kids are laying next to her, calling his buddy over to come look up her crotch. I don’t care who you are, whatever, if you disrespect another man’s woman you’re gonna get what you deserve. Those guys got what they deserve. Had I had to do it again, those guys would’ve got beat rather than slapped. There’s a camera right there and everybody’s yelling, “No. It’s the way it is. I fight for what I believe is right and if I’mm wrong I’ll be the first one to apologize. Some people liked it, some people didn’t. It’s reality T.V., people take it for what it is. If you like it, you like it. If you don’t, I don’t really give a f—k.
Do you think it was good for your career overall?
I don’t really do anything for my career. I enjoy competing, I enjoy surfing, I do this not as a career because I love to do it—I don’t think it’s helped or hurt. People know who I am. In fact, probably more people know who I am because when I go through airports in Timbuktu, people are like, “I’ve seen the show, you’re the guy that hits people. They’re all stoked so I guess it’s helped. I don’t want to be the guy bragging about going around and hitting people, but I also am not gonna be the guy that’s going around apologizing for hitting people when they get stupid. If you get stupid you better be tough.
You take a lot of pride in your World Championship and you worked hard for that thing, do you think it took away from that?
No. Just because I won the world title it doesn’t make me any better than a guy next to me. That was yesterday. What I do today is gone tomorrow—today’s a clean sheet. You’re only as good as the last thing you’ve did and I’ve done nothing. I’m looking forward to starting the year and doing something. All my achievements are behind me and if people think what I did during the show tarnishes what I achieved before, so be it. Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion. I think there’s a lot of assholes in the world, but is that gonna hurt everybody that I think is an asshole—hell no. So I don’t think it’s gonna hurt me if somebody thinks if somebody thinks I’m an asshole because I can be. I’m like everybody else. I’m no better, no worse—I’m just me. I don’t look at myself in the mirror and go, “God, such a terrible guy. I’m me, I enjoy it and that’s the way it is.