Does it give you even more confidence knowing you were able to accomplish that goal the first time you really put everything into it?
For sure. At the end of last year when I finished the movie was when I went, “OK, how do I work on my competitive surfing now, and where can I improve.” Coming into this year I had a good idea of what I needed to do. And it was always in my head to win the world title this year, but at the same time, if it didn’t happen I was OK with that, too. But for everything to pay off, and to know that all of the little things I’ve changed have worked, it’s pretty awesome.
Is there any part of you that would have liked to win your first title in your own backyard?
Yeah, definitely. I always thought if I won a world title it would be at home, with my family and friends, and I’d be finishing at Pipe — like the famous finals I watched growing up between Kelly and Andy. I guess that’s how you picture yourself doing it. And like I was saying, even going into this event I thought it was going to Pipe for sure, so when it happened early like this I was almost like, “Whoa, wait. What just happened?”
Well, at least you have another decade or so to win one at Pipe.
Yeah, and at the same time, to be able to go home and surf the Triple Crown and surf Pipe with no pressure and no worries — I’m so, so excited for that. I honestly cannot wait to surf Pipe with one other guy in the water and not have the pressure of a title on my back.
That’s a great mindset for you, and a dangerous one for the rest of the World Tour. And that Pipe Masters trophy is one I’m sure you really want…
That’s my next goal, and I just have to apply everything I’ve learned competing throughout the year out at Pipe and see how it works out.
Back to Portugal for a minute, can you talk us through that Conner/Jordy semi final?
I came in from my semi with Kolohe, and I’d won that heat, so I went straight back into contest mode and started thinking about winning the final. I didn’t want to get my hopes up too early. So, I was listening to music and even up until the last few minutes of Conner’s heat I was thinking about how anything can happen. And then he [Conner] got that 9.5 that was insane and a back-up 7, and with 10 seconds to go Jordy needed a 7 something, went on a left and tried a flip, didn’t make it, and I realized, “Holy shit, this is actually happening.” I didn’t expect it and so it was really hard for me to believe it.