If you had to list a highlight for the past year, what would you put down?
There were a few, obviously winning Chopes, that was a crazy one, and Bells too, but then also the three weeks I spent in Fiji this year was incredible. The first day we got there we had amazing waves, the most perfect Cloudbreak I've ever seen, and then, to have that giant swell as well, and hanging out with Ace before the event was really cool.
Did Chopes feel like a bit of a landmark for you? I know you've made finals and stuff there but a win in one of those big barrelling lefts…
For sure, other than my second I hadn't really done that well at Chopes, and it gave me a lot of confidence in left barrels. I think Fiji did that before Chopes actually, and when I went to Chopes this year it was the first time I ever went to that event thinking, "Oh, I can win this." In past years you hope to win (laughs). But it was definitely a big change in attitude and mindset as well.
The use of quads, was that pretty new? Was that from Cloudbreak onwards or had you been experimenting with them before?
No, the first time I rode them was after Fiji. I jumped on one of Julian Wilson's boards, we were doing step offs out at Kirra, and the speed in the barrel was crazy. And then that board that I rode at Chopes I'd only ridden it as a quad maybe twice before I started riding it in heats. I was learning more and more about it every heat, so it was really new to me.
Yeah… and you won, which is kind of a good result. But there's been a definite shift then, in big surf anyway, that quads seem to be the way to go?
Yes and no. I think Tahiti was so perfect and it’s such a perfect wave just for quads, but as soon as you get out on the face they don't feel as good as thrusters, so you've got to toss up whether you're going for barrels the whole time or turns or a bit of both When the conditions are stormy I don't really like riding the quad either, it doesn't feel like I can get it to turn as sharp or move as quick as a thruster, so it's not the be all and all that's for sure.
And was there a change in your board design after jumping on one of Kolohe's Mayhem shapes at Trestles the year before?
Yeah. I think in your career you run into a couple of boards that change your outlook on what sort of boards you should ride. I went and ordered a couple off Mayhem, and I saw one of Kolohe's and asked to ride it, my boards weren't going that great and I thought, “I've got nothing to lose,” and in 2011 that was probably my funnest event. So it was definitely one of the boards that changed my outlook on surfing. I got some boards off Mayhem and then worked with DH to show him what I was feeling to create a board I'm super happy with as well, so it was good to bounce back on the board situation in 2012.
Let's talk about Pipe and watching Parko win his World Title. As soon as you were out of the race in the morning, you donned the Parko t-shirt and were able to celebrate with him. It's probably been a while since you were on the same team, was it good to get back to that?
To tell you the truth, going into Pipe I had pretty damn slim chances. I was going into Pipe to try and have a lot of fun and finish the year off and give it my all in that last event. Even from before the contest, I was supporting him the whole way through. I was making sure he had a fair bit of space because I know what it's like at that time, everyone wants a bit of you, and as soon as my heat was done I put on the Parko hat and sat in the yard all day and was like a nervous brother pretty much.
How intense was it? It was gnarly for us watching it on the webcast, it must have been even worse for those close to him and being there.
I think some people were getting a bit too far ahead of themselves, it was sort of awesome but even with seven minutes to go people were getting way too excited, I was like, just hold on you guys, Kelly only needs an eight and he can get those in his sleep, but when it all went down it was amazing. I'm sort of glad that I wasn't in the event and that I got to sit on the beach and actually take it all in, and one day I'll be able to tell the kids and even Parko's kids what was going on that day from a different perspective which will be pretty cool.
Yeah, to take it all in as a mate rather than a competitor.
Definitely. I had no agendas other than just being there in support. I wasn't doing anything or saying anything, I was just there, and sometimes that's the best thing you can do, just be there. I was psyched to enjoy it and try and keep it under wraps for a while but there were definitely some nervous times throughout the day.
So now you're back in Cooly for Christmas and New Years and the summer holidays, it looks like you're surfing a lot… not a whole lot of sitting around and holidaying… what's summer about for you at the moment?
You know what, because I cut my foot in Hawaii, I sort of had ten days off through that, and so once I got home, I was keen to surf but I was only going to surf if we had fun waves and we’ve had fun waves ever since I've been home. And DH made me a stack of boards I'm super psyched on so I thought while there's waves I might as well surf, but I've still been enjoying hanging with friends, a lot of my friends work so it's been good to get them while they’re on holidays and go surfing and have a couple of beers here and there, it's been great.
When does the 2013 campaign kick into gear?
Umm, well I'm playing touch footy tonight, so that will be my first run in a while. If I don't have a heart attack tonight probably start doing something tomorrow.
Cool. Finally, Taylor Knox won’t be on the Tour next year. You guys travelled together and looked like you were really tight.
Yeah we travelled and stayed together the last two or three years the whole time so it's going to be different, I'll probably have a lot more down time because he's non-stop. But it was epic to be able to travel with your favourite surfer, there's nothing better and to become extremely good friends was another thing. Travelling with him, it wasn't like going to surf school, it was like going to man school and learning about life every day.
That's rad. Man School with Taylor Knox!
Yeah it was epic. He's a gem of a human.
Awesome. Thanks for your time and all the best for 2013 legend.
No worries mate.