Beared, bare-chested, and bronze, Wade Carmichael answers the phone after spending another long day in the Mexican sun. The Australian has been on the road since the last CT event in Lemoore, road tripping through California and exploring southern Mexican pointbreaks in what sounds like a surfer's dream.
"I'm in Puerto right now, we flew over from L.A. and went straight to Barra and did five days there. We've done a week in Puerto and fly to Salina [Cruz] on Friday to spend two weeks there," Carmichael told the WSL.
One of the most powerful surfers on Tour, Carmichael's ferocious rail game is tailor-made for the next event on the CT. The famed pointbreak of Barra De La Cruz will provide the perfect canvas for the Central Coast surfer who is eager to showcase his attack and get a result to propel him up the rankings.
"Pretty much in Mexico, I want to win," laughs Carmichael. "But I'll be happy with a Quarterfinal finish for sure in Mexico. I think it's pretty doable after surfing the wave last week and how my boards feel there and I already have some knowledge of the wave and everyone's kind of chilled at home, so there's no one around."
"It's not an air wave either, so that's a little bit of an advantage. It runs kind of straight, so there's nothing come back at you so that could be a good plus too."
The spot, made famous by the world's best 15 years ago at the 2006 Rip Curl Search, might not resemble the below sea level funnels that put it on the map but Carmichael says it's still highly contestable and worthy of being a CT venue.
"Yeah it was fun as," says Carmichael on his first time there. "It's easily going to be the best waves we've had all year. It was a bit funky there were lumpy little sections but it didn't seem to like a lot of swell so that head-high range was the most rippable, I reckon. When the tide was right it lined up perfectly. It didn't really seem to like high tide, but it was definitely a rippable wave -- nothing like the last time they ran there when it was all tubes, it was mainly just turns."
As one of a few Australians and CT surfers to make his way to Mexico ahead of the event, Carmichael realizes he's got the upper hand on his competitors and hopes to utilize it to maximum effect at the second last stop of the season.
"I've got a little bit more knowledge than everyone has right now and a bunch of guys are at the Olympics too, which will come straight over after that. Yeah, I feel like a quarterfinal finish will be really good and then I can finish it off at Chopes."
The Aussie recently spent time with his shaper Rusty Preisendorfer in California getting his boards dialed and soaking up knowledge from the master craftsman.
"Yeah, he's a lord. That's only the second time I've seen him because of the whole pandemic thing. I stayed at his house for 10 days and it was really good to hang out. He's such a chilled character and he just loves shaping boards."
The pair recently hosted a live stream from Preisendorfer's shaping bay discussing all things surfing and Carmichael's go-to-board fittingly named The Keg.
"When I first went over there we started designing that and we've just been tweaking it for a year and a half now," says Carmichael on the design. "It's going really well -- it's just an all-round board. I have two board bags with me right now and every board in there is a Keg. It ranges from 6'0" to 6'4" from round tails to rounded squares and it's just an easy board to surf and it goes good in pretty much everything, I reckon."
With flights back home canceled every day and the inevitable prospect of two weeks' hotel quarantine, Carmichael is doing what every stranded Australian surfer would do if he was in his position -- chase the surf and let the good times roll.
"It will be 10 months on the road if I do -- it's pretty brutal but I'm not complaining, it's a shit show at home and I've been getting some good waves over here so it's been good living."