Voila! This weekend, Troy Brooks topped the field a the O’Neill Pro Anglet, a five-star French event that pushed him to 7 place and 7350 points on the WQS — just one solid result away from the magic 8000 points-mark and a shot at the big time. But don’t celebrate just yet. This Aussie bulldog knows better than anybody that in shuffling world of pro surfing, it really aint’ over ’til it’s over, a lesson learned last November when he won the {{{Vans}}} Hawaiian Pro to edge on to the WCT, only to lose his spot at the end of the year when Neco Padaratz failed to double qualify. How big of a surprise was it? Well ,we at SURFING had already prepared an introductory interview only to have to pull the talk the mag just before deadline . When we saw he’d broken the top-10 mark we decided to revisit the conversation printed below. Let’s hope that this time, rather than jinxing him, the talk keeps Brooko fixed on going into Hawaii with a rock solid on next year’s ‘CT. !

Troy Brooks is the most dangerous WCT surfer not on the WCT. Forget his long list of mystery injuries and seven years of failed qualifying attempts since making the final of the ’96 ISA World Games. This Bells Beach regularfoot — through a handful of cameo WCT “wildcard” appearances — has put the fear in fearless heroes like ’02 world champ Andy Irons. But after winning the Vans Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa in November and leapfrogging 29 spots into the ‘CT, Brooks is no longer just a dangerous wildcard. When ‘CT surfers draw him in heats next year, they’ll be drawing an ace.

[Conducted a few days after his win, where we found him mid-day napping at the Pupukea Quiksilver compound.]

SURFING Magazine: You look worn out. Still celebrating the biggest win of your life?
TROY BROOKS: Actually, I surfed Log Cabins for a few hours this morning. The place just taxed me. [laughs]

What did you do differently this year that might have enabled you to break through?
Well, I’m from Bells Beach. But I actually moved up to the Gold Coast about six months ago. I wanted to train and surf more waves with the Coolie Kids, Occy and Luke Egan and them. There aren’t many pros where I live, so it’s hard to know what stage you’re at.

Did it help with your motivation?
I felt like it got to where I was surfing the best of my life. It didn’t really show up in the contests until the last one, but I guess that’s all it took.

Did you have a set training program up there?

Yeah, well, Rob Rowland Smith does all the training for the Quiksilver guys, so I’ve been on his program on the Goldie. On those points like Snapper, we’ll ride a wave for {{{300}}} meters, go on the beach and do some crunches, then run back up and do it all over again.

So the energy up there is contagious.
For sure. I come from an area where there’s, like, only two surf photographers. Every session on the Goldie, there’ll be at least 10 pros out. It has to be more than anywhere else in the world.

You were right alongside Taj, Andy and the Hobgoods until some health problems held you back. What kept you motivated to keep pushing it?
The Golden Staph (MRSA) thing was tough. I got it after my first couple of years on tour, and it basically put me out for a year. I was on an IV for six weeks and out of the water for three months — brutal.

You’re pretty injury-prone to begin with, right?
Yeah, some damage to my shoulder kept me out for a while, I’ve torn my ACL, broke three arms even though I only have two. I have a pretty good tally going.

What kept you going during all the setbacks?
I think I just love surfing, and I’ll never give up on it. Plus, Quiksilver’s backed me the entire time, getting me into a number of ‘CT events. I’ve felt like I’ve gotten some good experience already.

You haven’t gone unnoticed on those WCT events. How have you been able to get in Andy’s head?
Well, I much prefer to surf better waves. I’m used to those 6-foot ocean groundswells, where you have to draw your turns out a bit more. And the ‘CT obviously favors that. But as far as Andy goes, I don’t know. I’ve drawn him four or five times in Fiji, and since I don’t get many opportunities to compete in good waves, I get that extra boost to do well. We’ve had some good battles.

It didn’t look like there’d be any new Aussies qualifying this year. Was that in your mind going into Haleiwa?
Ahh, not really. I actually thought my year was over after losing first round in Brazil. In Hawaii, I just sort of surfed my way through a few heats, and suddenly I found myself in the final. The night before, I wasn’t even thinking about it. We stayed up late watching the footie World Cup, so my mind was completely off the contest. I didn’t even have a clue that I could still qualify. But then before the final, the announcer told me that if I won, I’d make the tour and asked if I was feeling any pressure. I think I was so floored that it didn’t even sink in.

But then you went out and comboed ’em.
I was pretty lucky, yeah. I got two quick eights and just made sure that no other good ones came through for the rest of the heat.

It seems you’re already game for those high-pressure heats.
I guess I just love surfing against better surfers with a big crowd watching. Everything’s elevated a bit — your adrenaline, every stroke paddling back out, how hard you hit each section…it just makes you rise to the occasion. And from what I can tell, that’s what the WCT is all about. I can’t wait. Evan Slater