After his Round One win in Portugal, during his post-heat interview with Rosy Hodge, Josh Kerr (cryptically) announced his retirement from the CT: "I've had a very lackluster year, which has been unfortunate," Kerr said. "But I'm looking forward to turning a new chapter in my life and moving on and doing all sorts of fun trips…"
Then, after beating close friend Jordy Smith in Round Three (nearly knocking him out of the World Title race in the process), Kerr made a more formal announcement with Rosy, when she asked him about his requalification goals for 2018.
"It'd be cool to requalify and get to surf one more event at home where I grew up [Snapper], but yeah, I'm officially done with it."
Sitting at 33rd in the rankings, Josh likely needs to win the Pipe Masters to requalify and make Snapper his swan song. Otherwise, the Pipeline in December is the last place we'll see 33-year-old Josh Kerr in a ‘CT jersey. We gave Kerr a call to find out a bit more about his decision to walk away from competitive surfing.
At what point in the year did you decide this would be your last?
To be honest, right at the start of the year, going into the season, I didn't really even want to do it. But the missus, and a few other people, were like, "Nah, c'mon, you gotta go and do it." But I don't think I was there mentally for most of the year. Most of it felt like a pretty bad rollercoaster. Everything felt great in my personal life, but competitively, it was just horrible. And that just made me realize I can do better things with my time than being on Tour: freesurfing, traveling with my family, working on my businesses…I think can make a lot more use of the world around me, rather than just traveling to all the Tour events.
Can you pinpoint a moment when that shift happened? When the competitive drive faded?
I noticed last year that I stopped getting nervous before heats. They just didn't mean as much to me anymore. And I'm really competitive as a person, I'll never lose that. I'll be competitive in everything from ping-pong to freesurfing with friends. But putting on the rashie just didn't feel the same. I started feeling like I was just kind of…there. I wasn't going for a World Title, so I was just hanging around, basically [Laughs].
What will you miss most about the ‘CT?
I don't know what I'm gonna miss the most, until it's gone, probably. Right now it all sounds awesome [Laughs].
What was your most memorable moment on the ‘CT?
Probably my first event at Snapper [where Kerr made the semis, losing to Mick Fanning], and the final I made at Pipe. Most guys get a wildcard before getting on the ‘CT but I'd never had any of those things, so Snapper was my first-ever ‘CT event, and it's something I'll always remember and cherish. And my daughter Sierra was born two weeks before that event, so that was pretty rad.
Are you looking forward to more down-time being off Tour?
With me being off Tour, things won't be slowing down, by any means [Laughs]. If anything, there's going to be more going on. Going back to the motivation thing: I'm normally not lazy, but when I go to the ‘CT events, I'm so lazy. I didn't have the same energy as when I was home. I'd just rest. Watch Netflix. Surf my heats and get a few waves in-between. So for me, if anything, the Tour was almost becoming de-motivating [Laughs].
Are you still pursuing the Big Wave World Tour?
I'm not going to focus any energy toward it. I might try to get a wildcard here and there, but that's about it.
You referenced bringing back the airshows on an Instagram post the other day. Do you think there's actually potential for a revamped airshow tour these days?
Totally. I've tried to put together a deck already. I'm definitely gonna be an advocate for trying to make it happen.
You've been dabbling in a handful of side businesses for some time now. Are you looking to jump headfirst into any in particular? Any new ventures to speak of?
No new ventures just yet. I've got a lot of existing stuff right now I can put a bit more energy behind. But my brain works pretty quickly, and I love dabbling in all sorts of stuff, so as soon as the right idea comes up, I'll be sure to jump on it. More than anything, I'm just excited to travel more with the family, and to be able to say yes to everything [Laughs].