Mikey February is on a dream run this season. Until last week, the Cape Town kid's best result in a QS 10,000 was making the Round of 48. But last week he smashed through that barrier in the Ballito Pro presented by Billabong and advanced all the way to the Semifinals, where he lost to eventual winner Jordy Smith. The huge result shot February 17 spots up the Qualifying Series rankings, to No. 4. And as if that wasn't enough, Deputy Commissioner Travis Logie went and awarded him the WSL wildcard for the Corona Open JBay.
Mikey started his surfing career at a surf school in Muizenberg in Cape Town. He quickly graduated to Long Beach, Kommetjie. Cape Town has two coastlines, and Muizenberg sits on the warm Indian Ocean side, while Long Beach, in Kommetjie, sits on the cold Atlantic side. Mikey soon stepped up to the various reefs and thundering beachbreaks in the Long Beach area, before taking his act on the road. In 2011, at the age of 18, Mikey was 487th on the QS rankings, and today he is 4th.
Mikey always had the strongest support from his family. His father, Isaac, drove Mikey and the family up and down the South African coastline in their beloved Volkswagen Bus, to contest after contest. His first big win came in 2008, when he won the South African version of the Quiksilver King of the Groms, and headed over to France to compete in the grand finals, and it has been a roller coaster ride ever since. Standing 6'3 and weighing in at 158lbs, the 24-year-old has wingspan, and he puts it to good use in the tricky air moves that get him through so many heats...We caught up with him down in J-Bay.
WSL: Congrats on your success at Ballito. Are you still riding the high from that performance?
Mikey February: I am so happy to get that result. Right in the beginning of the week, once I was past the round of 48, every single heat win was just a pleasure, and I'm so happy with the final result. I was so grateful to get into, and then out of, the round of 48, and then I got all amped to make another round, and I focused again. When I placed third I was so stoked! We only have five QS10,000 events a year, so only five opportunities for the big points, and to get this result in the first one - I'm just genuinely happy!
And when did you learn you had earned the Corona Open J-Bay wildcard?
Yeah, I was already so happy with the third and the points, and then after the airshow Travis took me aside and spoke to me, and I was ridiculously stoked. Like, the best thing ever. (laughs)
Two years ago you got a last minute call up at Supers, when Matt Banting injured himself free- surfing, and you had the runner-up spot in the JBU Supertrial. We spoke after the heat, and you seemed a little bit surprised and flustered.
Yes. At the time I only had about 30 minutes to prepare, and I was a bit flustered, but looking back, it actually wasn't that bad because I didn't have enough time to get nervous. It was like I didn't really have enough time to build up any pressure. This year I've got loads of time to prepare, and I've been spending so much time in J-Bay. I was here for the JBU Supertrial, and then I came back for that epic swell last month, so I'm slightly more prepared, and way more confident.
The South African Qualifying Series has really heated up this year, and you've been dominating. It seems it's been advantageous for your competitive conditioning?
Definitely. It feels like it has been such a long leg, and a great build-up to this moment. We have a few 1,000's and then the 3,000 event and then Ballito and now I'm in the Championship Tour event, and the whole South African scene is super positive right now. It feels good for the future as well.
Looks like you're up against Jordy Smith and Conner Coffin in Round One.
So funny. It'll be pretty cool to surf against Jordy in my first heat. It's good to surf against the best in the world whenever, you know? If you want to do well and succeed, you don't want the easy heats, you want to beat the best in the game.
That's a refreshing perspective. After J-Bay? Does this wildcard change anything?
No, nothing much has changed. After J-Bay I'll head home and relax a bit, and then head off for the Vans US Open of Surfing. Then we have a little break before Europe, and then it's Hawaii after that. Yep, it's all going to get pretty busy pretty quickly.
Well, it's a good luck for the Corona Open J-Bay from us then. South Africa and the rest of the world will be watching.
Thanks, and thanks to everyone for all the support.
Watch Mikey compete live at the Corona Open J-Bay starting on July 12 right here at worldsurfleague.com.