Break in training back home. © Shield
It’s so good to be in J-Bay with a clean new swell coming through. It’s one of the great feelings in surfing!
It feels like forever since the last contest. In Brazil But it has also been great to have a 10-week break to recharge the batteries and plan and plot some future strategy, starting with J-Bay.
I spent most of the break at home training with Gary Elkerton, aka ‘Elko’, and trying out boards. Luckily, we scored some really good waves on the Coast over that time. I was also able to get up to North Straddie Island quite a bit to see my family and friends — with the bonus of getting some great waves with no-one out!
One of the bonuses of being home was being able to take in the three-game State of Origin rugby league series between Queensland and New South Wales. I’m a league nut and a massive Queensland fan. Normally, the contest schedule has us out of Australia when the Origin series is on but this year was different and I was able to take in all three games.
It’s an inspiration to watch a team like Queensland. It was extra special to see Queensland score an historic clean sweep and fifth series win in a row. It’s going to be fun rubbing it in to all the New South Wales guys on tour.
The other more personal bonus was spending time at home with my wife Tarryn. She is pregnant with our first child and we are so excited about our baby due in October. It was the best feeling ever when we found out. It was great to have all that time off to get things ready for when the baby arrives too. We’ve got the room all decked out and painted – it’s pretty cute! There are a few other boys on tour due to have kids this year as well, so it’s really cool.
To split up the long break, I went to Bali for a week which was so much fun. I always have the best time in Bali. And it’s amazing how often you’re running into the other guys. I think pretty much everyone on tour went there at sometime throughout the break.
I also went to Fiji for a week on a diving and surfing trip. It was good for the soul to go and do something different instead of just surfing the entire time. I had only really dived once since I got certified so it was so cool to get down there again and see all the different sea-life and the colourful reef. Pretty mind-blowing stuff.
While in Fiji, we scored an afternoon of perfect six to eight foot waves at Frigates with no-one else out. We were having the best session until we saw the photographers’ boat get cleaned up by a monster sneaker set!
It was so heavy. I had caught the second wave of the set and got barrelled. When I came out, I couldn’t see the boat. I looked around and there it is upside down on the reef! It was so lucky no-one got seriously hurt.
Not surprisingly given the boat had flipped, both cameramen onboard lost all their gear. It wasn’t the best way to end a great trip, and was a timely reminder of Frigates’ power. It’s a place that reminds me so much of Cloudbreak. I miss that comp there so much!
Queensland’s had plenty of waves during the tour gap as well. © Shield
But it’s J-Bay that’s on my mind right now. The last couple of weeks I’ve been training my guts out with Elko preparing. Luckily, the points have been pumping so it’s been perfect training for the long walls at J-Bay.
I’m feeling really good about the event. J-Bay is definitely one of my favourite stops on tour and I feel the waves there really suit my style. Last year we got it so perfect. It would be insane if we could back it up this year with some big swells.
Kelly is on top again as we go into J-Bay and is looking very dangerous. It’s only early but you don’t want to give him a sniff of that title or he will just run off with it like he did on 2008. He looks a lot more relaxed than last year and he has his equipment dialled.
It’s pretty close among the top 5 and both Mick and Taj have won at J-Bay before. “Parko’s” absence due to that untimely and very ugly injury at Snapper takes out a major contender. I’ve seen some bad fin chops but Parko’s takes some beating. I can’t believe a surfboard could do that.
We all feel for the guy. And, of course, he was the defending champion at J-Bay and we all know how formidable he is when it’s on there.
So it’s going to be interesting to see how the comp plays out. I’ve had an OK start this season with two fifths in Australia. I’m sitting 10th right now so I’m still within striking distance.