In the June issue, Chris Ward spoke with SURFERmag Editor Chris Mauro a bit about his ongoing hunt for a birth on the World Championship Tour. During the interview, Wardo exuded a reserved confidence about the topic, stating, "I don't feel like it's a matter of ‘if’, just when."
Fast forward to September 16th, 2004. Chris bobs in the lineup of Upper Trestles picking off the shifty, bumpy rights and systematically tearing them to pieces. In full view from the water, the WCT Boost Mobile Pro is in full swing down the beach, with its huge tent, chattering announcers, and blaring heat horns. Chris, who's attention is elsewhere, spots a set wave and hustles into position. He takes off and tears down the line, hacking a savage roundhouse on the shoulder before launching a seamless frontside reverse on the inside section. Today, Chris is not at Trestles as a competitor. Today he's just a free surfer. But for Chris Ward, qualification has become a reality, and today, he patiently bides his time, waiting for "when" to become now.
Surfermag.com: Hey Chris, we just wanted to touch base and congratulate you on qualifying for next year's WCT. That's a huge accomplishment that you've been working towards, how are you feeling about getting it done?
Chris Ward: I feel like I've just put my foot in the door. It's a new opportunity for my surfing because now, I can take it to a whole new level. I can set and accomplish higher goals.
Surfermag.com: Which are you more pumped about? The waves, or the talent level that will be in the water with you?
Chris Ward: Well, we all know about the talent level on tour right now. It's pushing surfing into a whole new era, and I'm really excited about testing my ability and skills against the surfers and the waves.
Surfermag.com: So you feel like the talent on the 'CT is going to push you?
Chris Ward: I feel like it will have a really solid effect. Put it this way, if you surf with a handful of good guys you tend to surf harder and better.
Surfermag.com: And on the flip side of that, do you feel like your presence on the WCT will change the dynamic of the top 44 at all? Do you feel like you have the ability to push too?
Chris Ward: Of course. We're all pushing each other daily and because of that, year after year, surfing just gets better and more fun to watch.
Surfermag.com: Was there anything different about your approach to competition this year that helped you qualify?
Chris Ward: Definitely. I've learned a lot about competition. I've learned that you can never give up. If you do, you risk giving up your dreams, so you have to just keep fighting.
Surfermag.com: And do you consider this to be the biggest success of your career so far?
Chris Ward: For sure. It just took some fine tuning, but now I'm finally really ready for the fight for the World Title. And yea, of course I am going to be in it to win. Whatever it takes. I'm ready to surf hard.
Surfermag.com: So how is this going to effect your career?
Chris Ward: I may get less editorial photos. I love photo trips, but I have to say, I'll be going to all my favorite spots anyway. So photos or not, I'll have fun and just let my surfing carve my career and future.
Surfermag.com: What about the rest of your life? Family, friends, stuff like that?
Chris Ward: Every one of my friends will be there, as well as my family, from Texas to San Clemente. They'll be online, live, watching the scores and the webcasts. Everyone that really knows me is stoked, but my girlfriend Charity has been the most supportive.
Surfermag.com: Any feed back yet from your sponsors?
Chris Ward: Just some hard pats on the back from (Mike) Reola (…Lost).
Surfermag.com: For most of your career you've been regarded as an amazingly talented free surfer. Do you think competing on the WCT will help you shed that free surfer label and is that even something you would want?
Chris Ward: I'll definitely never lose the free surfer label. Free surfing will always be an important part of my surfing. Most of my life has been free surfing and it'll always be that way.
Surfermag.com: Are you in the Trestles event as a wildcard?
Chris Ward: No. "Absolutely no wildcards for Chris Ward." But, I have more than that to look forward to next year.
Surfermag.com: Well Chris, we're all looking forward to seeing what kind of damage you can do when the time comes. Thanks so much for talking with us.
Chris Ward: Anytime. Thank you, and thanks a lot to Surfermag.com!