At the risk of reading too much into an Instagram profile, it's fair to say that there is only one professional surfer whose bio handle quotes the poet William Blake. "To see a world in a grain of sand," is the line that Adrian "Ace" Buchan uses, the opener from Blake's most famous poem The Auguries of Innocence. The poem is a warning of the inevitable consequences for society when there is careless or willful mistreatment of people and nature.
Buchan's love of literature was nurtured by his father, who was an English teacher. Not content to just read, Buchan has even written his own children's book based on environmental and indigenous themes that reflect his sense of social responsibility. He is intelligent and articulate, positive and proactive. He is also a husband and father of two young children, who now travel with Ace at most stops. He has also been one of the sport's most consistent performers for well over a decade.
"I think Ace is one of the most interesting personalities on tour," Bede Durbidge told the WSL. "Few guys on tour have so many balls in the air. Ace packs so much into his life, both inside and outside of surfing. He holds it all together so well and still maintains the cutting edge to his surfing."
"I think being a professional surfer is a pretty all-encompassing pursuit at times. You've got to be pretty invested in what you're doing, but at the same time it's nice to have something to switch off and keep your mind fresh," says Ace. "As I've gotten older and felt more comfortable about the things that I need to do to compete and realize it doesn't mean being on every day and being in that contest mode."
The past season was a reflection of that. Along with adding a second daughter to his family, he continued as the Surfers' Representative on the WSL board, a role he has had for four years. He's also been heavily involved in the launch of a startup company called Awayco which aims to give surfers all over the globe access to high-quality surf boards, so there is no need to travel with them.
However, for all the extra curricular activities, it is still surfing that is at the center of Buchan's ever- expanding universe. In his 11 consecutive years on the CT, Ace has finished as high as World No. 6 and never outside the Top 20. He has won two events, in France and Tahiti (beating Kelly Slater in both finals) and has made a career out of a lethal backhand, competitive smarts, precise rail work, and his ability in tubes of consequence.
2017 however has been a slight anomaly, with his two best results coming in the beach breaks of Saquarema, Brazil, and on the cobblestones of Trestles, in California. While he traditionally targets the Pacific leg as his strong point, it is a testament to his enduring relevance that he could beat the next generation of aerial wizards in some of the smallest conditions surfed last year.
"It was an up and down year for me, but the fact that I managed to do some of my best surfing in amongst having a healthy little girl, well, I'm really proud of that," Buchan says. "However I really feel like that last year in patches I performed as well as I ever had. So that's great for the confidence and I'm excited to see what I can achieve in 2018."
Buchan clearly has a rare ability to focus on multitude of tasks and succeed at all of them. His family priorities are paramount, his interests are broad and his curiosity endless. Right now, though, he is laser- focused on doing his talent justice on the CT for the 12th year running. He will know the rest of Blake's poem, "Hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour." The time, as ever, is now.