INTERVIEW: Ace Buchan

23 Aug 2012 0

Ace on his way to winning Round 1

Ace on his way to winning Round 1

The Deep Blue Eye

The tour might be high and dry, and on island time, but swell is on the way. In the meantime, we delved into world number 15, Ace Buchan’s Tahitian dreams and nightmares.

By Jed Smith

This silky hack came after the barrel in the image at the top of the page. Nice.

This silky hack came after the barrel in the image at the top of the page. Nice.

It might be paradise but the End of the Road aka Teahupoo can be far from relaxing when weather maps begin to show a big red blob ballooning off the north east tip of New Zealand. Unfortunately for surf fans, that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen this year. What looked like a solid low pressure system has faded over the past couple of days, meaning we’re not going to see the big wave heroics of last year, more something in the still very entertaining head high to overhead range. In the interim, we had Ace Buchan talk us through the progression surfing has taken when it comes to riding this dense blue orb; who the best he’s ever seen out there is; and whether the tour has something to prove at Chopes following the Cloudbreak debacle of the last event.

CW: You were one of the heroes of the big swell last year. It was also very obvious how far surfing has progressed at Chopes. What in your view has changed in the way the wave is being surfed?

AB: I dunno if I was a hero last year. I got a couple on the paddle day and that’s a different realm to what the tow guys do. But yeah, guys are paddling into waves that are a lot bigger. Some of the waves now that are getting paddled into five or ten years ago were getting towed. You only have to look at here, Cloudbreak and Jaws, are the three that spring to mind. I guess it’s just experience and the exposure to those waves and putting yourself in the position enough times. I’ve been coming here for ten years now and you really build up an appetite for big surf and wanting to get inside one of those big ones. Last year was pretty cool ‘cause if you’re ever gonna do it, you’re gonna do it while everyone is supporting you. You’ve got all the adrenaline cause you’re competing and to have those big waves in a contest was a big opportunity for everyone and pretty much all the boys stepped up and rode some of the biggest barrels ever ridden.

Does being in a contest jersey back you into a corner when the waves are that big?

For sure, that’s what the tour is about. It’s about being able to step up to the plate in different conditions. For me, it’s such a great tour because you have to prove yourself from New York to Huntington through to Snapper, Bells and the big wave events like Chopes and Pipeline. That’s what all the punters and fans wanted to see for a long time: for us to get battered by a big swell, and that’s what we got and I think everyone kind of showed what we were capable of.

Who in your opinion has really made Chopes their own and what is so amazing about the way they surf if?

I don’t know if anyone has made Chopes their own. Andy, for me, was always the one that stood out. When I first started coming here and I rode for billabong, I’d stay at the same house with Andy and we’d catch the boat out together with Bede and Shaun Cansdell. Just to be able to surf with him and feed off his aggression and the way he approached the wave out there was really cool. I don’t think anyone has really attacked it the way that he did. I think Kelly rides it really well but he’s probably a little more calculated. Andy just had that really brash, aggressive kinda punky approach to the wave that he took everywhere, which I think was refreshing to see.

Can you give us an insight into what his headspace was like when approaching a big day at Chopes?

Andy was always so cool to me. The thing about Andy is that he had time for everyone and he was preparing for a big event and we were just punk grommets surfing the trials. So it was cool that he even had time to talk to us even though he was defending his Billabong Pro or Gotcha title back then. Those were the years when he was winning his (world) titles and he was really able to switch it on when he had to. And when he found himself in those situations, he was always really able to come out and do something spectacular. Which was why we all wanted to watch him.

The last World Tour event back in Fiji was one of the most controversial in the history of the sport for the very same reason we love Chopes so much. At Cloudbreak, the Tour chose not to surf some of the biggest, most perfect waves on tour. Do you feel you guys really have something to prove to surf fans at this event if it does get big?

Not really. Fiji was an amazing swell, whichever way you look at it. On the biggest day the event wasn’t run and I guess there are elements there that it was a missed opportunity but to be straight the guys just weren’t prepared for it. And that’s no one’s fault but our own. But we just don’t carry equipment like that around the world. We don’t have 9’0" boards or inflatable vests. I went out there in the morning on a 6’8", snapped that. Went out there on borrowed 7’6", snapped that and I was still a couple of feet undergunned on a 7’6".  There was a bunch of us that went out there and gave it a go and showed if we’ve got the equipment we’re happy to surf it. That day caught everyone off guard and the show that those other guys put on was amazing. Maybe a missed opportunity but I think it was an amazing day.

How do you compare the two – say Chopes at ten foot and Cloudbreak at 20?

Chopes is a little more intense just ‘cause everything is condensed in such a small area. All that volume of water all happens and explodes right there in a 100 feet whereas at Cloudbreak it’s more of an outer reef and it’s a couple of hundred yard long barrel happening there. It’s a little more of a taller wave but not as thick or intense as Chopes. Both of them are pretty much two of the most thrilling rides in surfing and it’s pretty cool to have those two stops on tour.

Tags: BILLABONG PRO TAHITI 2012 , TAHITI , BILLABONG PRO , TEAHUPOO , ADRIAN BUCHAN , ACE BUCHAN (create Alert from these tags)

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