In The Hot Seat: Bede Durbidge

Catching up with Durbidge on his upcoming 'CT retirement, his new coaching gig, and the future of surfing in the Olympics

They say it doesn't take a ‘CT-level surfer to make a good coach, but it sure as hell helps. Bede Durbidge—who's spent over a decade on Tour and has multiple ‘CT wins to his name—has maximized his talent on Tour over the years by combo'ing raw ability with wise heat strategy, finishing as high as 2nd in the world in 2008.

After shattering his pelvis at the Pipe Masters in 2015, Bede was forced to spend last year on the sidelines, at which point John Florence approached him about coming onboard to offer his help as a coach. And we all know how that turned out.

So it's no surprise to hear that, after Bede hangs up his ‘CT jersey next year, he’ll take a job with Surfing Australia, where he'll help others maximize their own talent and realize their competitive dreams.

We called up Bede to hear what he has to say about his next endeavor.

You'll officially take up the role of Surfing Australia's elite program manager for the 2020 Olympics after the Australian leg of the ‘CT in 2018. What was your deciding factor in walking away?

It was just the right time and opportunity. I was going to wrap it up at the end of next year anyway, and then this job came up. I applied for it and went through the interview process and ended up getting offered the job. It just feels like the perfect transition. I can finish up surfing on Tour and move straight into this new role.

What exactly does this new role entail?

In short, it's getting the Australian surfing team ready for the Olympics. That means working with the athletes and their coaches, and facilitating each athlete’s campaign. I'm really trying to help every surfer who is potentially going to end up on the Olympic team. I'll actually be starting the role in January, but as long as I requalify on Tour, I'll surf those three ‘CT events in Australia and then retire.

Is your retirement date [after Bells in 2018] dependent on your 2018 re-qualification, or will the WSL give you a wildcard?

They probably wouldn't [Laughs]. They might. It'd be cool to compete in at least one final comp in Australia, but I'm not thinking about that. I feel like I'm surfing well enough to qualify anyway. I'm in at the moment, but I'm right there on the cutoff. These next few events kind of suit my surfing, and I've had really good results there in the past, so I feel like I can do it on my own merit. But if I don't, so be it. Pipe will be the end, and that's not the end of the world [Laughs].

That also gives you a competitive goal for the rest of the year.

Exactly. Finishing on my own terms would be a dream come true.

You helped coach John to his first world title while you were recovering from injury last year. Did you have much experience with coaching prior to that?

That's what got me into it. I realized I loved working with people and trying to get the best out of them. Working with John was amazing for me. I learned so much, and I really enjoyed it, too. It's definitely a passion I have, apart from competing myself. So when this role with Surfing Australia presented itself, I had to go for it, because I know I can help people get the results they want.

I'm sure the people at Surfing Australia were thrilled when your application came across their desk.

[Laughs] Yeah, and I already train out of the Surfing HPC [High Performance Center] and have a good relationship with everyone there, so I think it works for all sides. It's a really good fit.

What’s been your most memorable moment on Tour?

Definitely winning the Triple Crown and the Pipe Masters in one day [in 2008]. That was pretty special. Pipe was tiny, and we were surfing Off The Wall, but that didn't matter. To win both was still surreal. I'll remember that day forever.

What will you miss most about Tour?

The big traveling family and the camaraderie between everyone. All the down time you have when you're away is so much fun, and I'll miss that a lot. But I'll still be able to go to some of the events with the new job, so it’ll be cool to be there in a different role.

Are you excited about surfing as an Olympic sport?

Super excited. I'm so pumped on it. It's just another outlet. Everyone is still going to go for the World Title, but the Olympics are another dream kids can shoot for growing up. And winning a gold medal for your country is pretty huge.

It seems like Australia is ahead of the curve in regard to taking surfing in the Olympics seriously. I'm sure other countries will follow suit soon.

They will. Adriano [De Souza] was talking to me about it in Tahiti. He's psyched for Brazil to go out and get a coach now.

Do you think the Olympics will stay in the ocean, or do you see pools as a viable option in the future?

I think we'll see it change. We still haven't seen an event in a good wave pool, but when we do, I think it's going to change surfing, especially for the Olympics.

You still have 7 ‘CT events left before hanging up the jersey. Anything left you really want to accomplish?

Winning one more event before I'm done is the goal. That would be the perfect way to end up.

Well, good luck, and hopefully we'll see you chaired up the beach one more time before it's over.

Thanks. All of these events coming up are amazing. Especially Trestles. That's where I got my first ‘CT win.