"There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune."
Yep, that's Shakespeare. It was also the quote Ace Buchan used to caption an Instagram post on the morning of the Finals Day of Billabong Pro Tahiti in 2013. Now setting aside that Ace might be the only member of the top Championship Tour (CT) to quote Shakespeare, it also proved prophetic. Buchan went on to win that event, beating Kelly Slater in the Final. It was his second CT win, he'd also beaten Kelly Slater to take the Quik Pro in France in 2005.
However, Buchan hadn't made another Final until the Oi Rio Pro two weeks ago. It is no coincidence that in that time Ace and his wife Rebecca had their first child. Ruby was born two months premature in 2014 and that experience has had a profound experience on Buchan.
"Dealing with some of the tough times early on with Ruby and now coming out of the fog of being a parent, I have a sense of clarity around who I am as a person and why I compete and surf for a living," Buchan told the WSL. "I decided to rely on my natural instincts as a competitor and a surfer. I stripped back all the bullshit in my life and decided to focus on what was important."
Those instincts have seen him put in a string of impressive performances throughout the Australian leg, before the Final in Rio, which boosted him to world No. 12 on the Jeep rankings. The combination of his form in Brazil and one of his favorite stops -- Fiji -- now on horizon, has put him on the cusp of returning to the top-end of the elite in surfing.
Buchan has cracked the Top 10 twice in his career, in 2008 and 2010, but has been firmly lodged in the teens ever since. He's never been in trouble of relegation to the Qualifying Series (QS), but apart from individual event high points, he's never threatened the World Title contenders, either.
However 2017 has all the potential for breakthrough, as Buchan's life lessons have led to a career renaissance. Fiji then couldn't have come up for a better time to build on his Rio form.
"For a long time I was frustrated with the results I had been getting in those type of waves, like Tahiti, Fiji and Pipe, because when I first came on Tour I had some good results at those venues," he said. "I was really hungry to change that. Not for anyone else, just for myself, because I felt I had been disappointing in those waves."
Last year, though, Buchan made up for those disappointments with semifinal finishes in both Fiji and Tahiti. The past Tahiti win, plus those results, further cemented his reputation as one of the Tour's best surfers in waves of consequence.
"I think part of my longevity has been that I haven't relied on certain locations for results and have done well on all the different stops," he said. "However, I would say that I feel most at home when conditions are difficult. When I look around the competitors' area and see athletes struggling with the conditions, that's when I feel most switched on and ready to go."
It seems at the ripe age of 34, Buchan has never been more ready. "I'm not second-guessing myself and am returning to the autopilot that serves me so well in my early career," he said. "I'm simply trusting myself, and my surfing."
He's dealt with the flood of life, it seems now it's time now for the fortune.