All photos by Mike Riley

Clay is in Tahiti, floating on his board. Splashing water all around him, a shy smile rushes over his face. 2000 miles away, we’re counting down the seconds in the office over beers, laughing out loud, going "Holy f--kkkk!!!!” 3,2,1 beeeeeeeeeepppp. It’s over. Clay’s just done something incredible. And as good as John John surfed you can’t deny Clay's psychotic raw talent. It was too much for John to handle. Clay just won Tahiti.

It’s fun to think about right? We dream about in the office often. So far as to create fake flyers of putting some of our favorite freesurfers into contest situations. Painting jerseys over their freesurf images. Trophies raised over a crowd at Trestles. Maybe we’re just bored, being trapped in a room with the same six people for 10 hours a day. But what if Clay really did take contests seriously? Or anything “professional,” for that matter. We could be watching him surfing in Lacanau right now, next 300 world tour hopefuls…and then suddenly the idea of Clay tying a jersey knot starts to feel really, really, f--king lame.

Like all complicated ideas, there are slight tweaks and variations. There are 50 different shades of grey and 100 different shades of Clay. And when it comes to surfers, it’s all in the tone. For Clay, Padang must of felt right because it was etched in the contest PDF weeks before the comp started. Clay ended up placing 4th and it wasn’t until we received an edit and batch of photos from Mikey Riley and JSLV that we woke up to the fact that Clay Marzo is like any other human. He likes what he likes and knows exactly what he doesn’t. We caught up with him and got a chance to hear what one of the world’s most gifted surfers loves. And you should listen. –Peter Taras

What surfers do you enjoy watching?

John John, Bruce Irons, Andy Irons, Dane, Slater, Sam Barton (my girlfriend's cousin), my brother Cheyne (Magnussen). Pretty much anyone who charges and surfs with a lot of power.

What are some edits that have motivated you this year, or ones you loved?

I loved Mason Ho's latest edits. They're funny and he really lets his surfing do all the talking. Wesley Larson's edits of Granger (Larson) are also good and John Barton's are always sick. And I can't forget my Maui boys Matt & Albee's – those are mental.

We don’t see too much of your backside surfing, but it’s incredible. How fun is it for you to surf on a right? That backside no-hand tube stall is incredibly stylish. Is that influenced by anything/anyone?

I love going right. That's all I used to do when I was young so I feel real comfortable with it. So I guess my backhand style just comes naturally, and maybe a little bit from watching Bruce and Andy Irons. Can’t beat their style.

Was that wave in Java similar to the wave in Maui? If so, how?

Yeah, there were definitely some similarities. It’s slabby, really hollow, and in nice warm water. But that wave in Java was a lot faster and even shallower.

What kind of music do you listen to?

I like anything that amps you up. For me, that's mostly a good rap song. The underground stuff is good. My boy DJ Cave is one of my favorites.

How was it surfing in the Padang Cup?

It was a little stressful at the start because there were a lot of people around. Once I won my first heat I got pretty excited and just stayed up top the whole time, away from the crowd. The surf was pretty much as fun as it gets and the format worked well too. I would be really stoked to do that contest again – I wish there were more events like that.

Do you see yourself spending more time in Indo now and adding that onto your travel schedule?

That's the plan. I want to spend a bit more time traveling around over there, doing strike missions during the winter while I'm in WA, and working on some new projects or maybe a new profile movie. Nothing's locked in yet, but there are definitely some cool ideas floating around.

What was it like living in West Oz for six months?

It's a really laid back place – super quiet. I pretty much just surfed every day and ate fresh fish with my girl every night. Pretty good, really!