BELLS BEACH, Victoria/Australia (Tuesday, March 26, 2013) - Turning 30 is a big deal for anybody but especially for a pro surfer. When you earn your living from professional sport, you quickly realise you will ultimately have a limited lifespan relative to most other professions (unless you’re Kelly of course! Back to him later).
Last year was a tough and frustrating one for me. I had a lot of little niggling injuries and the season quickly becomes very draining when you’re not getting the results you want. But this year I feel like a lot of that weight has lifted off my shoulders. I’m just enjoying myself and surfing off my instincts more. One of the key reasons is that I changed a few things up in the off-season and I feel like those changes are working for me.
I guess it’s natural at 30 to start thinking a lot more about how you treat your body, how you train. I’ve been really fortunate to have great advice and support in training and conditioning for a long time now. But you never stop learning. A bonus I got over the off-season was being able to do some work at the revolutionary Surfing Australia High Performance Centre at Casurina. I reckon the facility is the best in the world in terms of benefits specific to surfing. I had a massive off season training resume under Jeremy Sheppard.
Since turning 30 I’ve had to be very specific with my training and Jeremy has been able to get me amazing results with my body over the last couple of months.
I also worked hard during the off season with my shaper Wayne McKewen on my boards. With the busy back end to last year, I didn’t get much chance to fine-tune my boards and it was also difficult to find that magic board. But with those two months at home, I was able to get in the bay with Wayne and now I have my boards dialed. I went back to a single double concave and put a little more area in the tail and I have the fastest, most spontaneous boards I’ve ever had.
With the way I was feeling, I really wanted to back it up and start off the year with a bang with a strong win in that first heat. My record in three-man first round heats has been pretty dismal to be honest. But it helped that we opened the Quikky at Rainbow Bay. I think that decision played into my hands having the local knowledge of which wave to catch. It gives you a lot of confidence winning that first round heat and confidence in competitive surfing is huge. If you look at the eight quarter finalists everyone won their first round heat besides Parko and Taj whom Wilko and I beat.
I had some really fun heats out there with CJ Hobgood in round three and Brett Simpson in Round 5. But the best heat I had was round four against Kelly and Wilko. The tide was perfect and the wind had dropped right off. I had a pretty decent lead with a 9 and a 7 but then Wilko and Kelly both came back and Kelly got the win with two 9s in the final seven minutes. It was like he just found another gear and underlined what a freak he is. He didn’t look back after that heat, posting over 18 points every heat all the way through to the final. He ended my run in the quarters but it was a great way for me to kick off the season.
With a win in the first event Kelly will be doing the whole season for sure. He has his eyes set on that 12th title. I think narrowly losing to Parko last year has fired him up so much. He is surfing better than ever and still winning, so there’s no reason for him to quit now. It’s going to make for another exciting tour year.
Some people have asked me if the Quikky results were a bit of a push-back from the experienced guys on the tour. I don’t know about that but it seems like Joel, Kelly and Mick are still continuing their strong form from 2012 and bringing it into this season.
It was one of those days you dream of. Six foot, light offshores and corduroy lines just pouring in. I haven’t surfed Kirra like that since they started pumping sand into there ten to 12 years ago.
I surfed for six hours till I couldn’t move anymore. You’ve got to make the most of those days because who knows how long it will be till we get another one like that out there! In the meantime, Bells is almost on us and I am looking forward to another massive event over Easter.