At the recent QS1000 Ron Jon Vans Pro in Cocoa Beach, Fla., two Encinitas natives, Taylor Clark and Jake Marshall squared off in the Final. It was a dream come true for 20-year-old Clark, who came away with his first QS victory thanks to a buzzer-beater score. Marshall, showing pure class, was right there to congratulate his buddy on shore. For Clark, the victory is a crucial first step toward his larger QS goals. The former US Champ and NSSA Men's National champion has already advanced to Round Four at the QS3000 Martinique Pro next. We caught up with him before the event.
WSL: How has the win in Cocoa helped your thought process as you prepare for Martnique?
TC: It really helped, and I competed in Martinique last year so it's good going into it knowing the wave at Basse Pointe. I've also ordered some new boards I think will work really well down there.
WSL: What's it been like trying to find your feet at the pro level after your successful amateur career?
TC: After my wins in the US Champs and NSSA National Open Men's division I threw myself straight into the QS, and as everyone knows it's very challenging. Conditions are challenging and the competition level is amazing - It is very humbling. In the past six to eight months I've really been focusing hard on surfing in challenging, small, imperfect conditions. I'm continuing to work on this and as I do I feel like my confidence level is rising. The win at the Ron Jon in Florida really helped. Also the support I receive from my sponsors really means alot to me.
I think my first year or so of kinda struggling made me want it more. I'm continuing to work on this and as I do I feel like my confidence level is rising.
WSL: Now you've got a taste for victory, what are some goals you've made for this year and moving forward?
TC: This year my goal is to be in the QS 10,000's for the back half of the year and be able to compete in the Triple Crown. My ultimate career goal is definitely to qualify for the World Tour.
WSL: Who are some people you travel with and what does it do for your surfing?
TC: No matter what I'm always traveling with my brother - he helps bring stability. He makes it so I really only have to focus on surfing. Having him there I don't need to worry about flights, hotels, and rental cars. He also films all my free surfs for videos and to see where I may need improvement in my surfing. It's really nice to have him in my corner. Kevin Schulz (USA) is starting to come on more trips and I've also traveled with Josh Moniz (HAW) some places as well. They have always been really good friends of mine. We always get along great and it's nice to have people traveling with you that have the same goals.
WSL: What's something you do when you're not traveling or competing and have some time to yourself?
TC: I'm gone so much that between contests its fun to hang out with my family. I golf with my dad, and just try to surf as much as I can. I love golfing though. In Hawaii this winter on the flat days, Griffin Colapinto (USA), Josh and Seth Moniz (HAW) , Leo Fioravanti (ITA), [Colt Ward]) (USA) and I would always go golf.