Limbering up on the Gold Coast this winter. © Shield
Teahupoo is finally underway and it’s going to be a key event for everybody in the top 45, not just the guys fighting to escape the cut-off after this event.
I’m safe but I want to back up my semi-final finish at J-Bay in South Africa with a good effort here and in the next two events. J-Bay was such a good event again this year. I love that place. We scored some epic waves and finished the comp within the first four days of the scheduling window. That almost never happens. In fact, it’s only happened one other time in the six years I’ve been on the tour – and that was the epic Search event in Mexico.
I was happy with my third placing. I had some really close heats in getting to the semis including my third round against Tanner Gudauskas. Neither of us caught a wave in the first 12 minutes and then on my first wave I snapped my board! I had to swim in to get my spare one (which Luke Stedman ran down for me … thanks mate!), then paddle back out, regain my composure and surf out the last 15 minutes of the heat. I ended up getting through but it was all a bit
I lost my semi to Jordy Smith who was definitely the form surfer of the event. I had a great start to the heat with an 8.3 score which I backed it up with a 5.5. Jordy struggled to find anything most of the heat and I had him in combo-land with just four minutes to go, plus I also held priority.
There were no waves coming and I thought: “Yes! … I should win this heat from here”. Then this tiny one footer came through and I thought there was no way in hell Jordy could get a decent score on it. So I didn’t use my priority. Next thing he went and pulled off this superman air on it. I saw it and thought to myself: “Oh no, here we go”. I wasn’t sure how the judges would score it but he got a 6.9 and he was suddenly back in the heat.
Then a little set arrived. I caught the first one. It ran off pretty quickly on the reef and didn’t let me really open up on my turns. I got a 6 for it and slightly increased my score, leaving Jordy needing a 7.5. He caught the next wave and surfed it really well to nail down a 7.9.
I don’t mind admitting I was devastated. It had all happened in just four minutes and was definitely the craziest finish to a heat I’ve ever had. It’s the worst feeling to lose in a situation like that. But my hat goes off to Jordy to get out of a combo in such a short time period. He is having a blinder of a year and is on a roll at the moment. He is definitely surfing a lot smarter in his heats this year and it’s showing in his results. His pure talent, allied with a good game plan now, means he his a major threat for the world title. He’s the front runner going into Chopes and deservedly so. But it’s still early days with only four events surfed so far.
After J-Bay, I went to the US Open this year for the first time in six years. It was an awesome event. I couldn’t believe the crowds that go down to Huntington to watch it. Hurley do such an amazing job with that contest.
I finished equal ninth after falling to Miguel Pupo who is a really talented young Brazilian kid who can seemingly bust massive airs at will. Brett Simpson won the event for the second year in a row and surfed really impressively. I stayed on in California for an extra week doing some promo stuff for Fox and managed to sneak in a free surf at Trestles which was really good. I’m so excited for that event this year.
It’s been a long wait for the contest to start in Tahiti. The waves have been really small for over a week now but it’s looking like we might get a few fun waves for the last few days of the waiting period though. I’m staying with Adrian Buchan, Jay Thompson and Matt Wilkinson with a local family I stay with every year. Even though the surf has been small and the contest on hold, we’ve still been getting some fun little waves and having heaps of fun. The other day a big pod of whales surfaced near us and came so close to the boat. It was such an amazing experience to see those guys so close up.
There’s a bit of tension around Chopes, and not just because of how heavy the wave can get. It’s a really crucial comp for a lot of guys’ careers. With the tour being cut to 32 surfers after this event, we will be saying goodbye to 13 surfers. A couple of my very good mates are right on the bubble so I’m hoping to see them get the result they need to stay on tour.
I think the changes are going to make the remaining contests more exciting because there will be bigger match-ups earlier in the events. Plus it will only take three days to run a contest instead of four. That increases the prospect of finish an event in better waves and that’s got to be a good thing.
Until next time, stay safe in the water!