KONG’S BOOT CAMP HAS ME PUMPED FOR J-BAY
I call it Kong Boot Cap, or KBC for short.
I’ve just checked myself out of KBC to get ready to jump on a silver budgie and fly to South Africa to surf one of my favourites waves, J-Bay.
It’s time for a few of us, me included, to fire a few shots back at one Mr K Slater, otherwise it’s no-race for the world title this year.
That’s easier said than done, of course.
And after Kelly won at Cloudbreak to extend his lead, I knew I personally had to put some real energy into the break between the South Pacific leg of the Dream Tour and the Billabong Pro at J-Bay.
So it was off to see King Kong to submit myself to a mental and physical beating.
Kong is, of course, Gary Elkerton – and I sometimes question my sanity in telling him that I need him to hone my act ahead of a big challenge.
That’s cos Elko is not a bloke to be messed with.
He only knows how to do things one way – his.
Those who know him instantly recognise that trait.
It was one of the things that made him such a formidable competitor on the ASP tour for over a decade, finishing runner-up on the world rankings three times.
Growing up on Straddie where there’s a strong fishing community, Kong was already a legend for having grown up home-schooled on his Dad’s trawler, discovering big-wave outer-reefs along the way.
His big-wave riding still blows me away. Nor has he slowed down.
It’s crazy how fit he is. I feel like I’m at the peak of my fitness but I have to go so hard-out to stay ahead of him in some of the conditioning we do that sometimes I’m certain I’m going to die.
All he’s doing is showing me I can push harder.
Kong’s won the past three ASP World Masters Titles (aged 35 years and over) against fierce competition from fellow legends of his era like MR, Rabbit, Shaun Tomson, Tom Curren, Martin Potter, Cheyne Horan, Michael Ho, Terry Richardson and Damien Hardman.
Elko was hugely bummed when the defence of his title in Brazil this year was delayed cos he’d been training the house down.
Kong was behind my preparation for the start of this year’s Dream Tour.
I’d never gone into a season so confident, and I think that showed with the equal 3rd and runner-up at Superbank and Bells in the first two events.
Mentally and physically, I felt really strong through the Australian leg. That was a direct result of the particular work Elko and I did together in January and early February.
The two South Pacific contests were always going to be about consolidation for me, and I feel I achieved that in holding down the No. 3 slot coming into J-Bay.
But to meet the challenge Kelly has thrown down to all of us means digging deeper.
I needed some KBC time between legs.
Kong approaches things differently to other coaches that I’ve seen with some of my peers on the tour. I’m not going to go into detail cos I genuinely feel some of the stuff he’s imparting is giving me a real edge.
This is a guy coming from a knowledge bank as big as some of the slabs of waves he likes to be towed into nowadays.
Not only is there his ASP experience but also his involvement in the early coaching direction Quiksilver was getting into.
Elko has worked recently with me on physical conditioning and mental preparation.
The thing is I can talk to him about really critical things cos I know he’s been in the same situation so many times during his career. He’s really candid about what he got right, and what he got wrong.
My heat management has been one of the biggest areas of improvement for me over the past 18 months or so, and when Kong tells me I can get better yet, I know he’s right.
We’ve also been doing heaps of free surfing together and that’s primed me too.
This is my seventh time to J-Bay. I went there three times as a wildcard before I was on the tour and it’s a wave I love.
I’m chasing a strong result and it never hurts when the event is at a place like J-Bay which I feel suits my surfing.