Some Answers with Sam Wrench
Are you still "pro" if you don't have any sponsors? Well, you are if you're wining pro events. Seventeen-year-old NSW surfer Sam Wrench just won Oakley's Pro Junior Global Challenge with no stickers on his board and…wait, didn't we just do this interview with Bede? What's going on here? Something 'bout the economy or what now? Well, at least someone just got a stimulus package. —Nathan Myers
SURFING MAG: How come you don't have a sponsor, Sam?
SAM WRENCH: I don't know. Just the recession, I guess It's making it hard for a lot of surfers. I got dropped by Billabong at the end of last year.
Does it feel like redemption to be winning events?
This one felt really good, like I'd poured salt in their wounds. I'd been putting too much pressure on myself last year and it wasn't working out. Then I came here to Bali with no pressure, just wanting to have fun and look what happened. I surf best when I have fun.
This particular event is very low pressure — everyone is basically hanging out together the whole time. Does that change how you perform?
It makes it awesome. We're pretty much just freesurf our heats. You're so relaxed, you end up surfing your best.
How do you go look a sponsor now?
I had a manager working on it for a while and it wasn't working. I tried for ages, but maybe trying's not the right thing. Maybe I just keep waiting and it will pop up.
How do you be a pro surfer without sponsors?
I don't know. I'm lucky I'm still in the juniors. There's no way I could afford the WQS. I owe a fair bit of money to my parents, so now I can pay them back and maybe buy a car to get to next year's contests. It feels so good to have no debt. I haven't had no debt in quite a few years.
Do you think things would have been different if your rival Owen Wright had shown up for the event?
I wouldn't even be here. I'm here because he dropped out. As soon as I got the call, I called him and said thanks. He's one of my best mates. I grew up surfing all the events against him. I'm sure he'll be happy for me, but he'll look at the waves, then look at the waves he's surfing in Brazil and he'll be devo'd.
He's been keeping you down for a while, huh?
I've known him my whole life. I've beaten him a few times, but he always excels when things get hard. As soon as there's money or pressure, he can do anything. He's one of my favorite surfers.
Is it anti-climactic to surf one heat at 6 am and be crowned champion at 7 am?
I had a half a bottle of champagne and a few beers by 8 am. I'm sitting around with all the boys, and they're all such good surfers and it doesn't even feel like I just beat them. I beat Nat, I beat Granger, but it doesn't even feel like it. Every time I think about it it freaks me out. I don't feel like I've won anything…maybe when I look in my bank account it will set in.