SYDNEY, New South Wales/Australia (Tuesday, September 7, 2010) – Tom Whitaker (AUS), 30, a veteran of the elite ASP World Tour of eight years, will return to competition for the next several events as the first replacement surfer for injured Australian Joel Parkinson (AUS), 29. Whitaker, who has finished as high as 8th on the ASP World Tour (2006), narrowly missed the ASP's midyear field reduction which culminated last week at the Billabong Pro Tahiti. However, with the injury of Parkinson, and Whitaker's position as first replacement, the Sydney-sider will have an opportunity against the best in the world for the next several events.
From a results perspective, the first half of 2010 hasn’t gone your way. What’s it been like from your perspective? How do you feel about your surfing level?
It's been a really fun start to this year. I feel like I'm surfing better, even pulling airs (haha – that's all people care about now). I've had some good heats (beating Mick Fanning in Brazil) and I've had my fair share of slow and really silly heats.
It must have been a whirlwind 48 hours going from missing the cut in Tahiti to finding out you’ll be the replacement surfer for several more events. Can you take us through what that was like?
I had totally expected falling off midyear. I looked at all the crew in the contest still after I fell out and thought there is no way all of them can lose. I had a really fun night drinking cocktails and singing Karaoke in Tahiti with my best mates on tour, woke up really hung over and was so focused on not bringing up my drinks all flight long, I didn’t think twice about the cut. I finally got home and had a peak at the heats and thought it was worth a text to Renato. Our tour manager is such a legend, he called me straight away, explained the wildcards and that the meeting had just finished. I was now first reserve and obviously Joel (Parkinson) was injured so I’m looking good for a few more events. I was still hungover but went to my fridge and had a beer, my wife had a red wine and all we could do was laugh and think about getting Finn a passport!
We understand you’ve just had your first son, Finn, (congratulations btw). Has this changed your perspective on competing/surfing?
It has not changed my love of surfing and competing at all, that will always be there. Just now, it's second in line to my wife and kid. It's made the thought of falling off tour so much less daunting, there is such a bigger picture!
Lowers is certainly an event that lends itself to your particular brand of surfing. How is your confidence going into the Hurley Pro Trestles next week?
The shackles are off! I now know what it's like to be off tour so I have nothing to be scared of and that's what holds you back, being scared of losing or of not requalifying. I have a second chance, nothing to lose. I'm so excited to travel with my wife and son, we are going to have a ball.
What are you specific goals for the remainder of the year?
I don’t mind saying I want to win. It is ridiculously hard to win a World Tour event, but you can get on a roll and build confidence. If the waves come and with a bit of luck, anyone on the World Tour can win. I always think back to Rich Lovett, he won after so many years on tour, never gave up. I was there on my first year of tour, I still remember the pool party!
Thanks to everyone and I’ll be seeing you all soon with a huge smile on my face as always. P.S. – Parko, I’ve told you already, but I owe you a fair few drinks. Get well soon mate, it will be my pleasure to step aside when you're ready to rip again.
Catch Whitaker and the newly-minted ASP Top 34 do battle LIVE at the upcoming Hurley Pro Trestles at hurley.com/hurleypro/.
For more information, log onto aspworldtour.com.