By Nick Carroll

Maybe you can’t ever know all the machinations involved, all the twists and turns that result in a world-beating act. Maybe, like {{{CJ}}} said at the end of 2001, “things just have to go your way.” In hindsight, though, Andy clearly sees some contributing factors.

First: a hell of a lot of surfing. “When you’re in the water, your mind’s on surfing and it works toward you surfing as well as you can. I tend to remember sessions — when you’ve got the right board and you’re loose and comfortable in the conditions, you can do anything you want. For me, the session’s more important than just one wave.”

Second: watching heats. “I saw some of the best surfing of my life this year. That’s because I watched so many heats. Way more than I normally would. Occy said this to me a few years back, when he was going for the title and I was a rookie. ‘I’ve got a little piece of advice for you,’ he said. ‘Nothing dramatic, nothing big. Just watch heats. See what guys do.’ It took me three years to learn that. I’d get impatient; I’d watch for a little while then just go ‘I’m over this, outta here! I don’t have to surf again today.’ This year I watched all the time and it gave me a sense for the rhythm of a heat.” It also gave him confidence in the judges — that they were indeed applying the new “innovation” criteria, encouraging higher performance levels.

[For the rest of Andy’s contributing factors, check out the March issue of Surfing Magazine on newsstands now.]