No one could wipe the smile from Phil Rajzman's face after he reclaimed the World Title, a nine-year mission realized, and now must deal with the hardships of defending that Title once again. The Brazilian came to the beautiful shores of Papua New Guinea to begin that defense and started off brilliantly with a Round One win at the Kumul PNG World Longboard Championships.
WSL caught up with the 34-year-old as he prepared to take on the challenge of a new venue, and show that he's fully capable of becoming a multi-event series champion.
WSL: What challenges do you foresee with a brand new multi-event series since the WLC inception?
Phil Razjman: I believe this season will be intense, competitive, and filled with exciting heats to have a small tour come to life -- which is great for longboarding. Papua New Guinea is something important, to me especially, because it brings a more professional atmosphere with more than one event and makes us work that much harder. Everyone here has the potential to be a World Champion so it's not easy, but I came here prepared to do my best.
Going back to your last title nearly a decade ago, what has been your drive to make it back to the top?
I'm always motivated by winning. I became a World Champion nine years after getting my first Title, and that's already written in my history. I reinvented myself with longboarding and I'm proud of that -- and I want more. I want my third world title in 2017.
I reinvented myself with longboarding and I'm proud of that -- and I want more. I want my third world title in 2017. I spent nearly three months in Hawaii...and got to paddle out at Jaws when it was pretty big...It showed me what I'm capable of and I'm bringing that confidence back to the Longboard Tour.
You've spent quite some time away from home before coming to PNG, how has that time helped prepare you for this year?
Yeah I spent nearly three months in Hawaii, before going to Australia leading up to here, and got to paddle out at Jaws when it was pretty big -- definitely out of my comfort zone. But, I had some of my fellow Brazilians there and Carlos Burle to help me, plus a life-vest so I started getting a little more comfortable. I got to ride a couple of waves and I will never forget that, especially the bomb that caught me on the head. It showed me what I'm capable of and I'm bringing that confidence back to the Longboard Tour.
And now you're here, what's going through you head being in this new place?
I never thought I could come and surf here in this beautiful country, it's a new culture and a new kind of wave. It's a huge opportunity for not only me, but everyone here. It's great to have an event here, especially for the people here. They will get to see the best longboarders in the world on their wave which will help open their mind to what they can do on this wave. As we will learn from them too, I can't wait to surf in the lineup with them -- I saw a kid this morning just ripping and having so much fun.
I want to see these kids riding good longboards in the future and able to chase their dreams of becoming a professional surfer if they choose to follow that dream. I can't wait to see them express themselves here and just enjoy everything that comes with this event while we are here.
Tune in live to watch Phil Rajzman and the world's best contest for the first-ever Kumul PNG World Longboard Championships title March 18 -25