After spending a good chunk of last year sidelined by injury, Jordy Smith started the 2016 season merely hoping to stay healthy. So far so good. And with his huge win at the Hurley Pro, Smith has now worked his way into the World Title race. We caught up with him the day after his big win.
WSL: You and Trestles look good together.
Jordy Smith We have built a very good relationship together. I have spent the time out there, and it is the only place I surf when I'm here, pretty much. I have surfed Trestles at her absolute worst and I have surfed her at her absolute best. I have trained very hard here and I know every little cobblestone.
Trestles is turning into a J-Bay scenario for me a bit. The places on tour that I really spend a lot of time at and get to surf the most are the places that I tend to get the best results. It's about experience and memory and understanding every little nuance of the wave. I plan to build more experience at other locations, apply the theory at other venues and grow as a surfer.
Talking about growing as a surfer, you're now in the World Title race. How cool is that?
It's pretty amazing to be in that conversation at this stage. I obviously wanted to be in the conversation earlier, and looking back to 2014 I had a great run in Europe and then last year I never got that opportunity.
You were looking strong throughout the event whether in the water or on the land.
You know, there was all the controversy and talk about the judging at this event, and there were many people, surfers and others, who got involved in that conversation, and at some stage I realized that there was so much going that I needed to step away.
Step away as in how?
Well, step away in my approach to the situation that was brewing. I thought that if I just maintained a very mellow and humble approach to everything, keep respectful of the situation and the people involved, then I would rise above the controversy and not let it bring me down. I just wanted to be cool you know? Maintain a cool approach to everything.
It must have been hard to keep it together with the situation with Woody?
That was a very sad situation. It was such a sad day. It was such a wake up call to realize that whoever won this event, whoever was in the Final, we wouldn't have him there. It's a crazy thought. Woody has been part of our lives for so long, and it was a hard thing to deal with. It was a wake up call.
In what way?
Well, apart from the obvious things, like talking to people and asking for help in times of need, it just made so many of us realize that we're all on the same tour together and we need to look out for each other as much as we can. We need to be there for each other you know? I mean, it's life I guess, but if we can look out for each other we need to.
Did you have any ritual at this event that was in any way different to other events?
It was the weirdest thing. I was so comfortable in my space that it felt like I didn't even know that there was a contest on.
That's pretty weird. Good weird?
I guess so. I would wake up early and get moving. I like to have a bit of momentum going before I start surfing. I can't jump out of bed and paddle out in a heat. So I'd wake up at 5, the sun would only come up after 6, so I would just wake up to the day and get my body working, easing into the day. Then after I had surfed I would go home and I was really comfortable in my own house, and I would end up doing some of the mundane things in life. So it was like, surf a heat, go to the bank, pay some bills, answer some mails, like it was just another day in California.
How was it with Joel Parkinson in the final and all?
It was great. Joel said some really nice things up on the podium, and to be honest he didn't really have to, which I felt was very cool. Yeah. It was a good day, all in.
That board looked amazing underfoot. It had spring in it, and those rail turns were so clean all the time.
It's a Bunny Chow Channel Islands, but I think it was more about the spray job that people were hitting up on. I had such a busy schedule, you know. I was in Tahiti and then I came to South Africa for two days and then I was straight to Namibia for that swell and then I was back in Cape Town for a day before I had to get moving to get to Trestles on time.
I picked the board out of my selection and never thought too much about it, and then I just rode it all the time. I started figuring out all the little characteristics and the little bits and pieces and every time I rode it, it just got better and better. I had to work on the relationship a little in the beginning but by the time we were deep into the event it felt like a magic board.
You and Europe seem to get along, too. You looking forward to the next leg?
You know, Europe is like throwing up a giant bag of Smarties and see where they land. Absolutely anything can happen in Europe. It might be a flawless four-to-six foot outside bank with long walls, or it might be big tubes on the beach. It might be a rip bowl one day and it might be tiny and onshore the next. I reckon that I am going to have a big quiver in Europe for these very reasons, and I think that the surfers who do the best in Europe are those surfers who are able to adapt and change the quickest.
Which leads us on to Hawaii. You're strong and confident there?
Absolutely. I'm confident there and I plan on just hanging and surfing at Pipeline all day. I'm going to surf it when it's big and small, stormy or perfect. I just want to get to understand the wave as best I can and to apply the same relationship sort of approach there to what I have applied to Trestles and J-Bay. I think that win, lose or draw, I am going to be learning anyway.
How did you celebrate your win?
Just had a quiet dinner. Like usual. I'm not really into the big celebrations, and I feel like I'm getting too old for the parties.