"There isn't a specific story behind the nickname 'Micro.' But it's pretty obvious, I'm a mini-human."
That's Glenn Hall, the Aussie-born Irishman, a 30-year-old husband and father, and a 'QS grinder. He's put together a competitive streak this year that has him closer to qualification for the World Tour than he's ever been. After a victory at the Hainan Classic in China, a runner-up finish at Lowers, and his recent win at the Mr. Price Pro Ballito, he finds himself ranked 16th in the world, the highest ranking of his career. But he's not jumping to any conclusions.
"During this run, a lot has gone my way, I suppose," he reflects. "I haven't really changed anything about my strategy, it's just that the close heats have gone my way. Sitting at 16th, it is the best position I've been in, but it's still a long year to go. There are so many WT and WQS events, so I'm not comfortable yet. I need to keep getting points, to keep winning."
It's rare to see the green, white, and orange of the Irish-tricolor flag next to a surfer's name during a webcast, and even more so to see it waved on the winner's podium. In Ballito, Glenn scrapped his way through the early heats of the event, sitting on guys with his priority and tapping into some Irish luck along the way. He clinched his Semis win with a big score with less than five minutes left, and in the Final he linked three turns on his backhand in the last minute for the win.
"My goal coming into this year was simply to qualify," he says. "I was always going to do a few smaller Star events to make some money, because I enjoy competing so much. But the Primes were always going to be my main focus. I'm surfing well, but no different from previous years really. Getting older and wiser makes you relax in heats and see things clearer, it's helped me surf to my strengths to win heats."
At 30 years old, Hall is often paddling for position against surfers ten years his minor in these 4-Stars and Primes. He's competing with and beating hyped-up Hot 100 supergroms on their own fast tracks to Tour. He got the best of John John at Lowers and Nat Young in Ballito, among others. If he qualifies, Hall would not only be the oldest of the Tour rookies, but he'd also stand out as the lone surfer flying the Irish flag on surfing's biggest stage. You'd expect the Celtic surf community to rally in unison behind him, with maybe some sort of surfer hooliganism, but that isn't the case. Hall's decision to use his family heritage to claim Irish nationality, despite being born in OZ, upset a lot of people in the European surf community. They claimed he was siphoning foreign funds through his European sponsorships, which many spirited online commentators thought better belonged to native-born riders.
"There are always going to be people for and against my decision to take advantage of my Irish heritage," responds Hall. "I've had so many Irish people showing their support, which makes me stoked, but the negative feedback is fine as well. You can't keep everyone happy. They all have the right to their own opinion. I just hope I can inspire some young Irish guys to start competing. There are great waves, great people, and great surfers up there. It's a perfect recipe for a WT surfer; hopefully a few Irish groms get inspired to go out there and represent their country."
Glenn will surf the US Open in Huntington this month, and then he will head to Europe then Hawaii for the contest seasons there. "There are so many events to focus on before the year is over," he says. "As far as the Tour in 2013, I'm still en route—I'm not there yet. But with two wins and a second-place finish, this year so far has been the best of my career." And he's only halfway through it.