GOLD COAST, Queensland/Australia - Some things in life are more important than how you earn money. I know being a pro surfer is one of the best possible jobs in the world (if it can be called a job!), but becoming a father for the first time is more important to me than anything, and that’s why I’ll be skipping the next WT event on tour in Portugal in October.
My wife Tarryn and I are expecting our first child at about the same time as the event, and when it came down to the choice of what I should do, well, there wasn’t really a choice to make to be honest. It was an easy decision. Family comes first for me. It wouldn’t have mattered if it was a world title decider – I’m not missing this for anything.
Everybody I’ve talked to says that being present at the birth of your child is an experience that stays with you forever. You never forget it. To me, it’s so much more important than any contest. I’ve had some great rushes from surfing, but every surfing Dad I’ve talked to says no wave can beat the feeling of becoming a father!
Plus I can’t imagine how difficult actually giving birth is, and I really want to be there to support Tarryn the whole way. Missing Portugal means every event is a counter for me for the rest of this year. Rather than seeing that as extra pressure to perform at Trestles, I used it as extra motivation to make every heat.
I also arrived at Trestles excited. It’s a place that I’ve done well at in the past and I just love the wave. I think not getting over-amped helps there. There’s an overwhelming temptation to just go for huge airs and massive turns every wave, but I think you need to find a happy medium, and having a high percentage rate of finishing my rides has helped me out a lot there over the years. So has having a really good board there each year. I rode the same board I’ve used there for the past two years. So that’s two thirds and a second that board has got me now. Overall, I’ve had a first, a second and three thirds at Trestles now, so it’s definitely a good venue for me.
I had a crazy draw this year though. I had to work hard in every heat to get through and just kept running into red-hot guys. The heat against Jordy was a really big one for me. He got me at J-Bay when I let that Semi slip out of my hands, so I was pretty keen to get one back on him. Jordy had also been on fire early, racking up some of the highest scores of the event so I knew it would be a tough heat. But I just stuck to my game plan, had a quick start and got through.
That put me up against Dane in the Semis. He had just been going mad in every heat, doing some crazy airs and really pushing the limits. Fortunately for me, he didn’t have his best heat and I got through. Once again, I had a quick start and that put a bit of pressure on him and made him make a few mistakes.
I was really happy to make the Final. The waves were just getting better all day. That’s one of the big bonuses and best things about being on tour – just surfing a world class spot with only one other guy out! I wanted to get a quick start in the Final so I caught the first wave of the set and got a 5. As it turned out, the one behind would the better option, but Kelly got it and racked up a 7.9 to put the pressure on me straight away. I was finding it hard to get big scores in the event so I knew I had to put some big airs on to get a good score to match Kelly’s opener. I probably went a little too big and fell on my next couple of waves. In the meantime, Kelly got an even better wave than his first wave – this time scoring an 8.9 and putting me in combo-land.
Then in the last 10 minutes, the biggest set of the whole day came through. Kelly got the first one. I heard the crowd roar and was thinking he must have done something crazy. I never imagined he’d got a crazy pit! I caught the next wave and knew I had to go for it. So I threw a carving 360 straight up and made it. I could hear the crowd roar as I came down from it. It was such an amazing feeling. I fed off that and finished it off with an air and a late hit. I was back in the heat but only just. I needed a 9.9 to win – pretty much a perfect ride. I caught one last wave and went for it on my last turn but fell.
Even though I lost, it was still a great Final to be in. That one exchange Kelly and I had was pretty awesome.
The Hurley Pro was also the first event to use the new format with a reduced field. I reckon it worked insane. Everyone was super excited to surf that fourth round heat and know they still had a second chance. The surfing in that round was mind blowing. Everyone was definitely going for it more and the spectators were loving it.
Even though Kelly definitely has an edge with two wins, there are still four contests left and I believe the ASP World Title is still wide open.
Anybody could get on a roll from here. It’s going to be exciting to see it all unfold.
Until next time,