Yesterday: When I was younger a couple of the surf families had busses that they traveled around to competitions in. The Wrights had this bus that they used to travel around the country and compete in the Junior events. My dad actually bought it off them. We installed some solar panels on it, then added some board racks and a TV. It was the ultimate surf wagon. We did the whole Pro Junior series in the same van that Owen and Tyler used. They had great starts to their careers in that bus, so I guess it was kind of like a lucky charm. It all started when I was 7 or 8, I saw Mick Fanning do a reverse at Bells. I remember being amazed at how innovative it was, it really sparked my desire to become a professional surfer. It was weird that 13 years later I got to surf against Mick in my first World Tour heat as a full-time member of the Tour. Then I beat him. To beat him in that heat was crazy.
Today: I love the feeling of winning. There’s no other feeling like it. It gives me confidence to know that I proved myself on the ’QS and makes me feel like I deserve to be on Tour. I’m so competitive with everything. Before, if I lost a table tennis match to my dad I’d be smashing the paddle on the table. And I’ve always been competitive with my friends, even if we’re just skating around between surfs. It’s been such a driving force in my surfing. It’s made me tenacious and hungry. But something clicked last year when I won that 6-Star ’QS in Newcastle. It gave me a lot of confidence. I lost first round the event before and the next event I won the whole event, so I learned from that and tried to take that mindset to every event. I try to remember that even if you lose, you can still win the next one. I guess had to learn to let go a little.
Tomorrow: There are a lot of people out there who are quick to judge and make comments about your surfing. I’m going to do my best to ignore them, though that’s obviously a lot easier said than done. But at the end of my career I know I won’t remember 90 percent of the people who had bad things to say about me or my surfing. I want to focus on working hard, working toward having a good, long career. You never know how long a career may last. But you’re only kid once and it’s only for a short time so I want to work hard, but at the same time want to have fun and meet new people. I’ve missed out on a lot of parties and festivals to dedicate my life to surfing, but I hope I can find a balance and if I can be smart and invest my money in property then I’ll be set. I’ll be able to surf for the rest of my life. I bought my own house at the start of last year. So I’ve already got a huge head start.
As told to Brendon Thomas