Becoming the best in the world is a decision full of consequences. I was a focused, committed competitor throughout my professional career. I wasn’t there to make friends or to be popular. I was there to be a world champion.
The ocean was the answer to everything growing up. Go for a swim. You had a cold, a fever, anything: go for a swim.
Once you’ve lived near the water, you’ll go to any lengths to get back. I started my hitchhiking career when my family moved inland after my dad died. That was my re-introduction to surfing — On the side of the road in a school uniform, getting picked up by all sorts of weirdos all the time.
The WSL needs definition about the product they’re taking to market. Is it a sport, or is it a freesurfing exhibition? Or is it some California hybrid of the two?
Competitive surfing is not only about talented surfing. It's about the management of your opponent and the management of the waves. If I want to watch talented surfing, I'll watch a Clay Marzo edit.
“There's so much talk about positive thinking in sports. Positive and negative thoughts are just thoughts. They're exactly the same thing. For a competitor, you've got to be thoughtless.”
Every surfer has a moment when they knew they were hooked. I remember looking down the beach once as a kid and seeing a guy with long blonde hair and boardies take off on a wave and ride it all the way in. He gets to the beach and his dog and a topless chick walk over, and she gives him a kiss. That was when I thought: That’s going to be me, mate.
There's nothing good about fame except money. Being famous doesn’t mean you can say what you think. If anything, it constrains you.
Froth until the very end. On his deathbed, Midget Farrelly told his wife that he was going to get back into shortboarding again. “I've been studying the videos of Mick Fanning,” he told her. “I've got that technique in my head.”
There's so much talk about positive thinking in sports. Positive and negative thoughts are just thoughts. They're exactly the same thing. For a competitor, you've got to be thoughtless.
Treasure the moments when your heroes share their life with you. There were memorable times through my career when guys like Terry Richardson and George Downing gave me the light of day and opened up to me.
Talk is easy. I do have an ability to talk. One of my lessons lately is trying to shut the fuck up, and listen to other people. Zip it and listen.