New Zealand's Ricardo Christie is a 12-year vet of the Qualifying Series. Back in 2014, he qualified for the Championship Tour for the first time, earning his spot on the CT for the 2015 season.
Despite a Quarterfinal finish in Brazil that year, and a couple of huge performances against the top seeds at J-Bay, Christie went one and done, and was relegated back to the QS ranks.
Not to be discouraged, he went straight back on the QS, where he's been for the last three years. Heading into Hawaii last November he was sitting outside the cut, but thanks to a Finals finish at the Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa, he catapulted into a qualifying position, thus realizing his CT dream for the second time since 2008.
The World Surf League: Having qualified before, did it make the prospect of grinding through the QS again any less daunting?
Ricardo Christie: Yeah, I think so. I knew what I needed to do this time, and because I've been doing it [the QS] for so many years I sort of know what can go right and what can go wrong, and how to react either way. But you're aways dealing with the ocean, and the waves are pretty bad on the QS, so I already knew what I needed to do to stay enthusiastic through the tough times, and I really tried to capitalize at the events where the waves did get really good.
Can you pinpoint a turning point from last year?
Yeah, for sure. I started off pretty bad, to be honest. I really didn't get a result in the first few events. Then I went to Ballito, in South Africa, and everything just fell into place, and I made the quarters. From there, I just felt like I was in a good rhythm, and that I started to truly enjoy myself, which is the most important thing when you're on the QS. I had a lot of confidence heading into the back half of the year and really felt like I could do it.
Going into Hawaii, how did you handle the nerves and pressure knowing you needed a result?
I actually just went there [Hawaii] to try to put up a good performance. Deep down I knew I wanted to qualify, but I didn't put any pressure on myself. I was happy to just go surf, and focus more on adapting to whatever conditions we got, and sort of letting go of everything else. If it was gonna happen it would happen. That was the mindset. That was the first time I felt like I really was able to let go, and it really helped with my performance.
Talk about the moment you found out you'd officially qualified. How did it feel compared to the first time?
After I made the final at Haleiwa, it was a pretty cool feeling, because I was thinking I'd probably done enough. But I still didn't know until the end of the Sunset comp. It was an overwhelming feeling. It's hard to describe, really.
What will you do different this time around?
I'm a bit older and a bit more experienced now, so there will definitely be a different approach to when I was first on tour. But it'll be pretty similar to what I was doing last year on the QS, and to how I've been going about my life in general lately [laughs]. It seems to be working, so hopefully it will translate.
Who will you travel with this year?
It'll be a mixture. I'll be traveling with my family for some of it, and on my own or with friends as well. I haven't really planned out my year all the way just yet. But the family will definitely be coming with me when possible.
What wave on tour are you most excited to surf again with one other guy in the water?
J-Bay, for sure. That one and Keramas. That'll be fun. I actually lived over there [in Bali] for a few years, and I haven't been back since. That was about five years ago. It's too much fun. Time goes so fast in Bali [laughs].
Who will be the most dangerous surfer in 2019?
That's gotta be Italo [Ferreira], Gabriel [Medina], and Filipe [Toledo]. Those are the guys I reckon.
The Big 3 of Brazilian surfing.
Exactly. They're so gnarly.
What is your goal this year?
I mostly just have personal goals. I want to be surfing at the best I can, and enjoying myself along the way. That's really my goal. Hopefully things fall in place from there.