After a year off the World Tour, how does it feel to be back on tour full time again?
Last year was one of the most difficult of my life. I went through several injuries that kept me out of the water for the best part of a year. It took me a lot longer than I thought to get my whole body back to 100 percent. I healed my injuries on schedule but other parts of my body seemed to take longer as it was like they went on a long vacation. I was also putting more effort into the acute-injured area. So to have my health back and to be back on tour has put a massive smile back on my face and I feel normal again.
There seems to have been a few injuries last year. What was the start of the whole thing? What was the first injury that started the roll of them?
My first injury was my foot. Basically my big toe. Sounds lame, huh? I tore all the tendons and ligaments that connect my big toe to my foot and the bone was pushed to the side of my foot as well. I did it first playing touch football, then healed it, then did it again surfing. Then I started surfing too early and I injured my groin. I had an impingement. Seriously that little toe threw my whole body out of whack. Horrible.
What's your strategy for Brazil?
This event for me is one of the hardest on tour. I find the wave difficult to surf because of the quality. So I worked with my shaper on a few different curves and I believe it will help my cause dealing with the conditions. I will be attacking Brazil the same way I did Bells and holding nothing back.
You seem to be looking fairly decent in ranking with a 9th at Bells. Are you feeling any pressure with the cutoff to 32 surfers after Tahiti?
No not at all. I feel that I'm already back where I was at the end of '08. Although the level of surfing has improved, I feel it has lifted my surfing and I have the experience of being on tour for a while, so I'm really confident.
What type of boards are you taking with you to this event?
I have four boards [coming with me]. A 5'11", 6'0", 6'1", and a 6'2". The two short ones have a specific rocker and outline. They're also really wide and a little thicker than my normal dimensions. The 6'1" is different again and the 6'2" is my favorite board that I rode at Bells. I don't like too many boards as it adds confusion, and I know with these I will be 100-percent covered.
As one of the taller guys on tour, do you feel a little more at home with fellow tall guys Owen Wright and Jordy Smith on tour with you? Do you feel it's skewing towards tall surfers again like in the days of MR and Kanga?
Jordy is a different body type than I am. He must be 90kg [198 lbs.] and I'm only 75 to 77 , and have been this way since I was 18. But Owen is really similar to me. So to see Owen surf like he does has opened my mind a lot, as I used to think guys like Kelly had a real advantage with his physique but now thanks to Owen I feel like I can do anything to. You just have to believe you can do it.
You're widely considered to be one of the more "stylish" guys on tour. Do you feel this is a fair title you've been given?
I used to get mocked or made fun of a little when I was younger with what I used to wear, but since then the mocking has turned into compliments. I have never really taken too much notice of it, but it's a nice title and I'll run with it.
What's something that you just have to do on a down day in Brazil?
Make sure your down day is a sunny day. Buy a four-dollar Caparina and go for a walk on the beach. I'm telling you, you will never experience anything like this anywhere else in the world. If you don't have strong will power and you're married or have a girlfriend…don't do this. It could complicate things.