Were you nervous about securing the wildcard this year or was it pretty much a given that you were going to get it?
It was pretty nerve-wracking, to be honest. No one wants to go back to the 'QS. But at that point, I had already accepted whatever the challenge was going to be, if that’s what it was going to be. It was out of my control, so the only thing I could focus on was maintaining my health. I was fortunate enough that a few other guys qualified and the WSL gave me the wildcard.
Did you learn anything about yourself from your time off Tour?
With everything that you do, as long as you’re learning from it, you can grow. For me, I think my biggest lesson is that I can’t be 6’3”, 200 pounds and just expect that I’m going to go out there and rip everyday. I’ve got to do body maintenance on the regular and make that a part of my life.
How do you think this year compared to previous years?
I think I matured a lot and learned to compete a little better. Some people pick up the ins and outs of competition really quickly, but I think it took me a couple years to figure it out, and I think I’m really finding my feet now.
What were some of the highlights for you this year?
Making the finals at Bells was pretty amazing. I feel like I’ve been an in-form surfer there for the last 4 or 5 years, I could just never get the nod. I didn’t win the contest, but it gives me something to work towards next year. The win at Lowers was really special, too. I had a few memorable heats, like that heat in Portugal where I got that 10.
Speaking of Portugal, you were a whisker away from pushing the title race to Pipe. What was going through your head when the stakes were getting higher?
As the event started to unfold, it became clearer as to what I had to do, what John had to do, and what Gabriel had to do in order to push it to Pipe. Or, in John’s case, to win the World Title. John was in the first half of the draw and I was in the second half, so every time he made a heat, that basically meant I had to make two more. It was black and white for what I needed to do. So I just tried to focus on that.
Above Photo: Miller