The Rip Curl Pro At Sunset Beach, Hawai’i

Zane Who? The Rip Curl Cup gets a surprise winner.

I love those cliché words the sports pages in newspapers use for new stars like, “young upstart,” “young buck,” and “up-and-comer.” In fact, there’s all kinds of ways to describe nineteen-year-old Zane Harrison’s win in perfect six- to ten-foot Sunset, but the reality is¿the boy came up.

During a final most competitive surfers would poop their pants in, Harrison wasn’t intimidated by an all-star final lineup composed of Sunny Garcia, 1996 Rip Curl Cup champion Paul Paterson, and Ross Williams. In a surprise upset, the former world under-sixteen champion won the second of the Triple Crown Contests and took home one of those giant checks (literally) for 10,000 dollars.

Then, if winning one of the heaviest contests in the world wasn’t good enough, he took more than a few death slams at Pipe, only to get third in the Mountain Dew Gerry Lopez Pipe Masters trials and show just how burly he really is. The following is an interview with Zane during the waiting period for the rest of the Mountain Dew Gerry Lopez Pipe Masters main event.

How old are you?

Nineteen

Where are you from?

Queensland, Australia

Who are your sponsors?

Rip Curl, Oakley, Reef, Pipe Dream, and Gorilla Grip.

What are some of your career contest highlights?

I won the world grommet titles on the sixteens in 1996, I got second in the overall Billabong Junior Series results last year, and I’ve won national titles.

Where’d you get your experience in the big surf?

I don’t have any experience in surfing big waves, really. I live on the Sunshine Coast¿it’s only about two or three foot all the time. Probably ’cause it’s so small, you look forward to going somewhere that’s much bigger. It probably helps.

How many times have you been to Hawai’i?

Four times.

Who are some of the people you look up to?

I look up to pretty much all the guys in the Top 44 and a couple of other guys. I don’t look up to them too much, I just like watching all of their styles put together. They all rip so much, it’s hard to choose someone.

What was going through your head when you were eating it at Pipe? You just kept going back out, and it would happen again until it paid off.

I was a bit hesitant at first¿I didn’t know what it was like out there. You just gotta keep going, and as soon you paddle into it¿there’s no turning back. You just gotta try and make it. Just jump, hope for the best to get a little bowl, and see what happens.

Are you surprised at how well you’re doing over here so far?

I’m surprised I haven’t been badly hurt laughs. Yeah, I’m surprised at how it’s going.

Did Derek Ho’s and Taj Burrow’s injuries at Pipe worry you?

Not really. It did when I caught my first wave¿I was a bit hesitant. Not too much, unless Pipe picked up more.

Do you have a coach?

Yeah, Ian Portingale. That’s who’s helped me most of all. Before coming over here, I had five weeks at home because I was just having an average year. There was nothing standing out about it. I was a bit worried I was getting caught up in a slump. So I went home for five weeks, trained, and got my head back together and really looked forward to Sunset. That’s what I was aiming for.

What are your future plans?

Next year, I’m going to be doing mostly QSs. Pretty much all of them, and a couple of Rip Curl trips.

Do you want to qualify for the CT?

Yeah.

You’re gonna be pretty famous when you get back home. Is it gonna be easy for you?

I’m only going home for about two weeks, so it’s gonna be all right. It’s only my little hometown. I’ll just go and have couple of drinks with my mates and celebrate a little bit. Then I’ll get back onto it again.

Is there any famoous chick you want to go after now?

Jennifer Lopez.

So should I call her up and tell her?

Yeah.

How are you gonna get that big check on the plane?

Fold it in half and put it in my board bag.

Are your sponsors stoked at how well you’re doing?

Yeah, they’re real stoked. Especially with Sunset being their contest. They’d rather have the money go to one of their surfers than someone else. They’re stoked on how I’m doing, so it’s good.

Is there anybody you want to thank for how well you’re doing?

Pretty much my parents and my coach