A great season on The Rock and plenty of fun ones to sink your teeth into on the small days at Rocky Rights as well. © Joli
If somebody had said to me on January 1 this year that I would finish the year having jumped from No. 5 to No. 2 plus pick up a CT contest win along the way, I’d have gone: “I’ll take that!”
That’s how 2008 has ended for me and I’m stoked with how the year has gone. Would I have wanted to have finished No. 1? Of course! But Kelly just had such an amazing year and was nearly unbeatable. That might have demoralised others on the tour but it didn’t me. Quite the opposite actually.
I learnt heaps from this year, both from watching how Kelly went about
remorselessly hunting down that phenomenal 9th world title, and from my own experiences. I will take that all into next year.
Kelly is an amazing athlete that pro surfing is so fortunate to have. I’ve seen articles comparing him to Roger Federer and Tiger Woods. He’s definitely in their company in terms of what he has achieved and that has helped the credibility of surfing so much — but in 2009 I won’t be out there to lie down for him. I know he wants 10 world titles. My plan is to be in the way. I know it’s a massive task but I’m up for it.
When I reflect on this last year, there are some good memories. Winning in Brazil was obviously the highlight but I actually felt I probably did my best surfing at Trestles at the Boost Mobile Pro. Trestles is just such a high performance wave when it’s on plus I had an amazing board I could do no wrong on.
My best heat was probably against Owen Wright at The Search in Indo. The waves were pumping and we had a really close high scoring heat that went down to my last wave before I shook him off.
I think another key this year has been that I kept my training up all year and didn’t slacken off like I have done in the past. That made for more consistency in my performances. I also changed my backhand tube-riding technique and that worked so much better on some of the barrelling lefts on tour.
I made a few mistakes this year that cost me. I’m not losing any sleep over that because you learn from your errors. A good example was not following Kelly over to Rincon in the Bells final when I held the lead and priority. That ain’t ever going to happen again!
I’m also stepping my training up even more for 2009 and I will also make an additional trip to Tahiti just to put a bit of extra time in there.
All three events copped amazing waves. © Joli
People ask me that now I am No. 2, do I feel like I’ve now permanently shed the underdog status thing. Not entirely, I believe. I still don’t get the media attention like the other guys but there has been a huge difference this past year.
It was good to close off the year with Hawaii having one of its best seasons in a long time. There were so many good days plus we got really good waves for the Triple Crown too. The last day of the event at Haleiwa was pretty insane. Other than the semi-final heat, Parko and I were in when no waves came through at
all (it was really bizarre, it just stopped for 20 minutes), the surf was awesome that final day.
One guy who caught my eye this winter was Dusty Payne. He is such a talented surfer, and he can do it all whether the waves are big or small. He has a massive future in surfing. I felt Adrian Buchan made big gains on the tour this year and is a guy who we should be watching for. Ace had such a good second half of the season and finished 6th overall.
I’m spending the Xmas/New Year break relaxing and spending time with family and friends up at Stradbroke Island, enjoying myself before I get back into a heavy training routine. Have a great Christmas everybody. Hope you all get some waves and I will talk to you in ’09!