Yadin Nicol has been a prisoner on his own couch recently. In 2011, he qualified for the World Tour, placed second to Kelly Slater at the US Open, and starred in two of the biggest films of the year: Lost Atlas and Year Zero. It was arguably the biggest year of his career, but he ended his run with a bang, or maybe more of a snap. In Japan, he broke his fibula and tore a ligament, putting any video or competitive plans on hiatus. But it's a new year, and Yadin's leg is back in one piece. I caught up with the recovered ripper just a few days before the Snapper event to see how he's feeling about his fibula and his first event of the 2012 World Tour season.
How was your year going up until that injury?
Pretty smoothly. It was good. I was having fun, I was surfing a bunch. Everything was going really good. It's just kind of weird, having that happen when everything was going so well. But yeah, that put the brakes on pretty severely.
What exactly did you do to yourself?
I don't know the medical terms, but I broke my fibula, and I tore my deltoid. I guess that's the biggest ligament in your body, so that was probably not a good one to tear [laughs]. And then, there was almost a partial dislocation too, so my foot was kind of bent sideways a little bit. But yeah, it happens.
Could you believe your bad luck, going from qualifying for the Tour to spending months out of the water?
I really didn't get too down on it though 'cause shit happens, you know? I didn't really want to get too caught up in being bummed out about it because doing that doesn't really get you anywhere…but it definitely was a buzz kill. I knew I'd be on the 'CT this year, so I kinda just focused on that and getting healthy and I had some really good times with my wife for a couple months, and she was pregnant—she's still pregnant—so that was good. It could've been worse.
What was your first session back in the water like?
My first session back was probably a little too soon. But I didn't rehurt it. When I was rehabbing I was being good, but a week before Christmas up in Santa Barbara, I tried it out just going straight and cruising. I did a couple bottom turns and a couple top turns. It was all right, but it hurt a lot so I left it another week and tried again and kind of got the same result. Probably around the 10th of January, I was surfing about twice a week and then I'd leave it a couple days, and then surf a couple more times and then leave it. It was a bit of a process.
It seems like some surfers [Fanning, Reynolds, etc.] come back from injuries and end up surfing better than before, maybe because getting injured makes you think more about your overall fitness. Do you think that's true?
I hope so. I did everything I could to be in a better position. I've been working out a bit, and getting in the gym, and I'm bigger than I was before. And I'm keener than I was before, that's for sure. When you don't surf for six months or however long it was, you really start to appreciate all the little shitty sessions. I think you do get a little bit hungrier. It's still bugging me a little bit, I don't think I'm at 100 percent yet, but hopefully in a couple months it will be all the way better.
Before you got injured, you were kind of all over the place between competing and doing video parts. Is it draining trying to cover all the bases?
It can be. But as long as you pick and choose what events, and what video trips you do—I wasn't really doing anything that wasn't worthwhile. If I was going on a video trip, it would be for a movie, and I don't mind traveling a ton for something like that. I think you get burned out when you're doing shitty trips or going to shitty events. In the last three years I've been pulling it back a little bit, and just picking and choosing what I want to do. That's helped a lot, and it keeps you motivated, otherwise you're just doing all the 6-Stars that don't really mean anything, and then go on a couple of shitty trips and that gets you burned out.
Would it be more important to you to win a Tour event in good waves, or have the best section in the biggest movie of the year?
I would probably be more stoked on a win. I think that'd be a bit more satisfying right now. The stuff that people are putting together in surf movies, and just with all the web content coming out these days—there's so much crazy web content that it just gets a bit much and kind of takes away from video sections. There's so much out there, you know? And not many people get the chance to win a World Tour event. So right now, I'd probably take that over a good section.
How is it being relocated to Santa Barbara? Has Rincon helped get your pointbreak game ready for Snapper?
It's definitely helped. I think it was pretty crap the end of last year, but from January until now there's been a swell every week. Being able to have Rincon right there, I've been surfing that wave a ton just to feel out the kinks in my ankle. It feels like you can get ten turns on a wave there, as opposed to one or two turns at a beachbreak. It's been good in that sense, and yeah, it's probably a pretty good place to surf before you come to Snapper. They're pretty similar.
Watch Yadin getting back into the swing of things in Ventura: