"You're from Margaret River?" they say. "Then what the hell are you doing here?"
This is the typical reaction Yadin Nicol gets in the lineups around his adopted home of Santa Barbara. Western Australia's southern wine-n-waves mecca of Margaret River is pretty much every Californian's vision of "how it used to be." Undeveloped beachfront. Small communities. Fine wine and easy living. Why leave?
"What a man will do for love and a dog," Yadin sighs.
The dog is a feisty Yorkie seen in recent Hurley ads (yes, even dogs get sponsored in California). And "love," of course, is his native Californian wife, Bella. With Yadin on the road so much, leaving Bella back in his hometown didn't make sense. So for the last couple of years, Santa Barbara has been "home"…as much as any pro surfer calls anywhere home.
Now Yadin and Bella are expecting a child, due around the time Yadin gets his overdue crack at the World Tour (he missed 2010 by one spot, then sacrificed his 2011 qualification to a broken ankle). The conflicting events put the question of Yadin's loyalties to the test, but he's gambling on making it for both milestones. "Just gonna have to wait and see how it goes," says Yadin, with one eye on the storms and another on the belly.
Whatever happens, the question of "home" remains. Between 11 WT events and another 10 Primes, touring pros like Yadin spend more time on planes than transatlantic flight attendants. So as long as he's chasing points, Yadin will continue enjoying the perks of southern Cali, namely Mexican food and multiplex cinemas.
"Plus, there's the dog," he says. —Nathan Myers