What was it like being a rookie on the ASP tour?
I think it’s different for a lot of people. I would say the first year or two is more of an adventure. Having to adapt to all the different situations in different countries. Having jet lag. Just basically being on the road and having to put all of that aside, and being able to surf at your highest level – regardless of what’s going on around you.
When you’re an amateur competing, you sort of have a few weeks or so to prepare for the contest. Being able to surf the spot for a while enables you to already to feel comfortable there. That takes a little while to get used to. On the tour, I would say that you’ve got to be ready to go right from the start. You don’t have a lot of time to prepare.
Was there anything in particular that helped you succeed on the tour?
I just really enjoyed it a lot. It was a little bit different when I was competing. We’re talking quite a few years ago, now. There weren’t as many events, it was more like a prolonged surf trip. Like you’d go to France for a month, and there would be one contest at the end of the month. So you could spend three or four weeks surfing. Then you might go to South Africa and have a contest the first week, have two weeks off, then have another contest at the end of the month. You did a lot more freesurfing then, as compared to now on the tour.
Now with the WCT and the WQS tours, there’s more competing going on than freesurfing. Which do you think helps your surfing – competition or freesurfing? Or is it a mixture of both?
I definitely think the mixture of both. I was just watching a video yesterday of Cory Lopez. He surfed so unbelievable – 360 airs, just mind – boggling stuff. He’s got a good mixture of freesurfing tricks, and he’s a good competitor as well.
I think the way that the tour’s set up now is pretty good – I think it’d be a bit of a stretch for anyone to really complain. Because those guys have got it pretty good right now, they’re surfing while the rest of us have to make a living.
Does there seems to be a bit of a shift on the tour right now, as far as the number of young Australians as opposed to Americans?
Well, there’s an argument there – that Australia’s producing competitive machines and turning out champions. To a certain extent, that’s probably true. At the same time, I’ve been around a few years in the U.S. and have seen the competitive motivation level of young Americans kind of go.
You could see that the level was a bit higher a few years ago. Everyone was real excited when you had that whole Knox, Machado, and Slater block of competitors come up. Then for whatever reason, it kind of dulled for a while. It’s really hard to put a finger on exactly why. Maybe they don’t care or their sponsors don’t care, or maybe they’re more into freesurfing and shooting videos.
But whatever the reason is, I think it just really goes back and forth. Maybe there’s more young Aussies now, but the Americans will be back – you can bet on that. It’ll always go back and forth.