SURFING: WE ASKED TAJ BURROW TO GIVE YOU ADVICE, SINCE YOU’RE JUST STARTING OUT YOUR PRO CAREER. HE SAID YOU SHOULD “DO IT ALL AND LOVE IT ALL,” MEANING THAT YOU SHOULD FIND YOUR WEAKNESSES AND THROUGH TRYING TO IMPROVE THEM, ACTUALLY LEARN TO LOVE THAT ASPECT OF SURFING. HOW DOES THAT RESONATE WITH YOU?
That sounds like great advice. I’ve been trying to take note of that kind of stuff, because I know some of my weaknesses and want to improve them. Just last year I went to Tahiti three times because I wanted to work on backside barrels in bigger waves. Once you get on the tour, all your weaknesses will be exposed.
WHAT’S IT MEAN TO YOU TO WIN THE NSSA NATIONALS OPEN MENS TITLE?
I started doing NSSAs when I was 7, and I remember watching Nat and Kolohe winning Open Mens. Now they are on the tour, and it seems like a lot of guys who won that title have gone on to be successful, so it means a lot to me. Winning that title gives me a lot of confidence moving into my professional career, which is always a huge thing to have on your side.
WHAT WILL YOUR NEXT FEW YEARS LOOK LIKE?
I don’t want to force anything, but now that I’m done with my amateur career I’m gonna start to do the QS pretty seriously this year. Hopefully by the end of this year I’m in the 6-Stars, or the best-case scenario would be the Primes. Ideally I’d qualify in the next two to four years. A lot of the guys who qualify around 20 or 22 seem to need less time to adjust than the guys who qualify at 17 or 18. Obviously, there are exceptions like Filipe and Gabby, who came on and started winning stuff right away, but I look at someone like Conner as a career path I’d like to follow. He qualified a little later than some of his peers but now that he’s on, his surfing looks like it belongs there.
WHAT ARE YOUR LONG-TERM GOALS?
I would be really stoked to win a world title, that’s what the end goal is. At the same time, I’m not in a position to treat that as a current goal. Right now, I just want to get better at surfing.
HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR A LONG CAREER?
I believe physical training is really important, so I do a lot of that to try to get my body in really good shape. I’ve always been kinda skinny, so I’m trying to put some weight on so I can match some of the guys on the QS and CT. Besides that, I’ve been trying to fill some gaps in my surfing, like backside barrel riding and all categories, really. The best surfers eventually rise to the top so I’m super focused on improving across the board.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF SOME OF YOUR PEERS WHO ARE ALREADY ON THE CT, OR DAMN CLOSE TO IT?
I look at guys like Leo and Kanoa having tons of success on the QS and CT, and it makes me realize how attainable that goal is. Like, I was just surfing against those guys a year or two ago, and now they’re on top of the world. That’s super inspiring to me, and it makes me want to push even harder to catch up to them.