***courtesy of Surfline***
AS AN AUSTRALIAN, WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO WIN THE VANS TRIPLE CROWN LAST YEAR?
It’s pretty much every surfer’s dream and not many Aussies have ever won it. It’s really tough to beat the Hawaiians, so it was a pretty big achievement for me. Every event is so different and you can do well in one event and not the other. You just have to be consistent. For me, it’s definitely an advantage to surf Haleiwa and Sunset on my forehand. Maybe not Pipe, but those two for sure.
HOW WAS IT TO WIN THE PIPELINE MASTERS, NOT AT PIPE?
It kinda sucked really because it was small and shitty. It was at Off-the-Wall. But still, I was just ecstatic to win and to win the Triple Crown as well. Both in the same day was a dream come true.
WHAT’S YOUR VIBE BEEN ON THE NORTH SHORE THIS YEAR?
I’ve been hanging here at Backyards… same place I stayed last year in a nice quiet neighborhood. They’re a really nice family and I stay below their house. Lately, I’ve been surfing Haleiwa, Rocky Point, Backyards and Sunset — nowhere else really. During the downtime, I’ve just playing some footy with the Aussie guys down at Sunset school. My wife’s here now so I’ve been hanging with her a bit. Other than that, I’ve just been relaxing, sitting on the couch watching tele.
IS YOUR LIFE DIFFERENT IN HAWAII THIS YEAR BEING DEFENDING VANS TRIPLE CROWN CHAMPION?
It’s a little different. I get noticed a little more. A lot more people say hello to me. It’s pretty cool to have that presence. A lot of people ask if I’m going for the Triple Crown again. It’s definitely cool to come back and defend the title.
ARE THE LOCALS RECEIVING YOU A BIT DIFFERENTLY NOW?
I think so, for sure. They might have seen me surf on the WCT, but they didn’t know I could surf well in Hawaii. So, yeah, I think I’ve gained a bit of respect from them.
YOU’RE RANKED SECOND IN THE WORLD. DO YOU THINK YOU’RE STILL UNDERRATED?
Not so much anymore. I’m definitely getting a lot more media and people take me more as a threat now. But still a little bit, compared to the top guys. I don’t get anywhere near as much hype as those guys. I didn’t have the push from sponsors when I was younger like the other guys. I wasn’t splashed everywhere or talked up a lot, so that’s the main reason. But, I like it. There’s no pressure. I can just go about doing things my way. I don’t have to perform to the media and stuff like that.
IS IT WEIRD BEING RANKED SECOND WITH NO HOPES OF WINNING THE TITLE?
Not too weird, because Kelly won it so long ago at Mundaka. But it is kind of weird, I guess. Everyone is just going for second now. It’s the next best thing for us. But, I don’t know if those guys are that hungry for second anymore. I think they’re just enjoying some downtime before next year.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THIS NORTH SHORE SEASON?
I definitely want to back up the Triple Crown. I had good start at Haleiwa with a semis and had a good go at Sunset. Hopefully, we’ll get some big barrels at Pipe. Every time I come to Hawaii I get more comfortable with the place and learn more about it.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE NORTH SHORE?
I like how close everything is – all the waves. You can surf all the different waves. I like how relaxed everyone is. All the guys on tour are relaxed. Everyone wants to do well but it’s kind of holiday time as well.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE WAVE IN HAWAII?
My favorite wave would have to be Sunset. It’s a pretty awesome wave. It’s so unique and different to other waves. It’s a real challenge every time you surf it. There’s huge area out there and you have to get right in the “V” of those peaks — if you can do that then you’re killing it out there.