29 December 2008
I think it's been a very positive year for me. I managed to get a few good results for my first year on tour, got through several heats at various events so I am happy with this first experience. I would have prefered to start off the season strong with a couple of good places because it would have given me a better seeding and probably a better rank in the end. I finish 2008 just outside the requalifying Top 27 guys without even surfing the Pipeline Masters because of that injury so I am definitely satisfied with that rookie season. I knew it was going to be tough doing both tours but it was my plan since Day 1 so I went for it. Lots of travel, lots of heats and a lot of pressure on the WQS events because I really needed to do well at these events.
2. How did you handle things mentally and physically? Did you have a intense training all year?
I did not really have time to train physically because of the non-stop trips all around the world so I never managed to take a break and focus on my training. The WQS events are very demanding and I put a lot of energy into it and it paid off which was a big relief. It was a great thing to finish into the Top 15 because it was a great compensation for me after all the hard work.
3. What about the major things you learnt during this busy season?
It was a year of learning for me and after all these events, I feel like I have grown up a lot in my whole competition approach. At the end of 2007 when I qualified, I was so focused and wanted to train and be as strong as possible and went to Australia too early. When you travel to the next event too early, you are already kind of burnt when things get started. I put too much pressure on myself at the beginning of the year and it was a mistake. This is something I will be working on for next year, to go to a World Tour event just as if it was a WQS one and be relaxed. I just want to do my thing and enjoy so I will start with a big break at home this winter before going to Australia end of February for the first event. 2009 will be a big change as I probably won't be doing the WQS anymore and focus on the ASP World Tour.
4. So many people expected you to rip at all the righthand pointbreaks on tour and you got your best results in solid lefthand barrels. How is that?
I think it is a problem of pressure that made it hard for at these locations. I wanted to do so well that I missed the opportunity. On top of that, I did not have perfect boards in the first half of the year at Snapper Rocks, Bell’s Beach and J-Bay and I was not confident on my equipment which made it harder when going to events. The balance of equiment, mental approach and physical skills is the perfect solution to do well at an event. And the events where I felt close to this balance were taking place in lefthand barrels so that’s the reason why I did well there. Once I had the right surfboards, I could put this aside and focus on the rest. For next year I am going to work a lot more on my boards at the start of the year and be relaxed on this aspect of my preparation.
5. What about that one heat at the Billabong Pro Tahiti against Joel Parkinson? You scored a perfect 10 and ended up losing?
It’s probably the one heat I keep thinking about most. It was a hard time for me and it’s one of the times in my life I was very angry and unhappy. I did not understand what was going on while in the water and I really thought there had been a big mistake when I was called with an interference which cost me the heat against Joel. I hadn’t understood what was going on because it a very tricky priority rule I did not know. So after talking with a couple of guys I got to understand better and I was given an interference because of a blocking situation I did not even know I was making. I learnt the hard way because to me, it is one the best heats I’ve surfed in my life and it is hard when you don’t make it because of a stupid mistake.
6. You pulled out of the Billabong Pipeline Masters on the day your heat was paddling out, can you tell us about it ? Are you going to recover fast?
I injured myself before my heat in the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing at Sunset during a warm up surf and I felt like I had something wrong at the back of my neck so I saw the doctors who told me not to push it too much. It's not a big problem and I don't suffer a lot so there is no reason to panic about it but it's the kind of things you don't want to play with, especially in such demanding conditions. The MRI did not reveal anything in particular but the doctors told me in the worse case scenario I could hurt my spine so I should rather relax because it can last between two and six weeks. I wanted to surf in the event because I had this one thing at the back of my head about Marlon Lipke (DEU) who finished No. 16 on the WQS and needed me to improve my World Tour rank so I could requalify directly which would have taken him in for next year. We are good friends and I wanted to help as much as I could but I couldn’t risk it too much in a wave like Pipeline. Unfortunately I finish the year with this injury but I am okay and I know I will on tour next year.
Yes for sure, it happened to me before when I finished No. 17 that one year so I know it is hard after putting so much into it and doing well on the WQS. But I still think there is a small chance he makes it in with the guys possibly retiring and the wildcards available so we’ll see. Whatever happens, it’s not a bad position to be this close because you are first in line for replacements for the following year and you can learn a lot from surfing a few Dream Tour events. Nic Muscroft (AUS) is the best example; this year, because of many injured guys on tour, he got to surf almost every event and learnt a lot from that experience before eventually making it into the Top 15 to qualify for next year’s ASP World Tour. There is definitely a positive thing in being that close and having the opportunity to surf events against the world’s best surfers.
8. Talking about your fellow European Dream Tour mates, how do you look on this amazing progression of surfers from Europe? Did you think three years ago there would be a minimum of five Europeans on tour?
I am proud to be part of this amazing moment for European surfing, and I never thought there would be that many of us on the ASP World Tour three years ago. I think European surfing has caught up with some of the world’s best nations and I think that Jeremy (Flores) and Michel (Bourez) are right up there and have an amazing level. If these guys manage to show all their potential, they have the skills to reach the top. Being part of that crew is a great feeling and we travel together and it definitely makes you stronger. If you look at the other nations, all the guys hang out together and encourage eachother which makes them stronger. What has happened in three years is unbelievable and I hope it keeps going.
9. Have you been watching the next generation coming up? Do you think there is potential to see some of the young guys follow you to the top?
I usually keep an eye on the results of the big junior events and I know a few f the guys coming up. Joan Duru (FRA) is probably one of the best upcoming surfers along with Marc Lacomare (FRA) and Charly Martin (GLP, ASP World Junior No. 3 in 2008). These young kids have a great level already and on top of that they spend a lot of time with us and whenever we can we give them all our experience. This is a big help when you are hoping to qualify because to see some of your friends up there shows you it is makable. What happened in Brazil (Jeremy Flores finished runner-up and Miky Picon equal 3rd) or in Australia (Jeremy Flores placed equal 3rd) is something the younger guys can look forward to. On the other hand, if they qualify for the Dream Tour, they will have more pressure to better us but this is sport in general and competition. I feel like a big brother for all the new generation and I hope I can help them, give them all experience I can.
10. What is your plan for 2009? How comfortable do you feel amongst the best surfers in the world?
Eventhough I am glad to see the next generation coming up, I am focused on my thing and so motivated on making it to the top. There is a lot of things coming up and after such a hard year on both tours, I want to have a different approach. Next year I am going to do like Miky did in 2008, focus on the Dream Tour and keep all my energy for these ten events. Talking on good I feel on tour, I must say we are having a great time and there is a lot of respect between each of us on tour. Europe is a melting pot of so many cultures and I feel like the rest of the guys are always interested and happy when they are going there. Coming from the Old Continent and being a rising nation on tour is a great thing. There is a lot of respect and friendship with the rest of the surfers.
13 December 2008
Slater chegou à final com Chris Ward, num heat onde as ondas não abriam muito. Porém, Kelly fez a sua magia e alcançou a vitória com um score total de 14 pontos. Bastou fazer duas ondas boas para não dar hipótese ao seu conterrâneo.
Recebendo o prémio pelas mãos do lendário Gerry Lopez, Kelly não poderia estar mais satisfeito com o resultado da última etapa do Tour deste ano: "Vim da Micronésia horas antes do campeonato começar, com poucas horas de descanso, mas consegui ir avançando na competição".
Apesar de ter entrado com uma prancha que muitos consideravam pequena para Pipe, Kelly não quis deixar de seguir o seu feeling, que acabou por dar resultado.
"O Chris é inacrediável. Nunca tive quaisquer dúvidas. Ele é um dos melhores surfistas em tubos do mundo", não deixou de dizer sobre o seu rival na final.
Sem querer avançar muito no que tem planeado para o futuro, Kelly limitou-se a dizer: "neste momento, estou apenas a divertir-me!"
Para Chris Ward, "a final foi como uma sessão de free surf... mas apenas com alguns benefícios a mais!"
Quem também não esqueceu esta vitória foi Joel Parkinson que, depois de Ward não conseguir vencer Kelly, ganhou o Triple Crowd Of Surfing (um prémio atribuído ao surfista que tirou os melhores resultados durante as três últimas provas do ano - 2 WQS e 1 WCT - no Hawaii).
"O Andy já me tinha roubado esta oportunidade por duas vez... mas hoje foi a minha vez!", contou no final Parko.
O Dream Tour fecha agora para balanço, com calendário já estabelecido para 2009. Aloha!
11 December 2008
No heat contra o havaiano Dusty Paine tirou dois 10 perfeitos, conseguindo um feito que apenas Kelly Slater havia alcançado em 2005.
“Nunca pensei vir a consegui-lo. Não é nada que uma pessoa oiça falar todos os dias. Senti-me como se tivesse ganho todo o evento, mas depois tive que me acalmar e cair em mim de que apenas tinha ganho um heat”, conta o surfista.
O chapéu está tirado…
O surfista português foi logo alvo de exames médicos, tendo lhe sido recomendado que não avançasse com a sua participação na última etapa do circuito mundial.
“Não é uma situação de grande gravidade, por isso não é nada para entrar em pânico. Porém, é melhor não brincar com este tipo de coisas, especialmente estando condições bastante exigentes. O exame que fiz não mostrou nada de relevante, mas os médicos disseram-me que no pior dos cenários poderia causar alguma lesão na coluna”.
Embora Saca já não se tenha que preocupar com a sua permanência no WCT de 2009, o português sabia que da sua participação na prova havaiana estava dependente a qualificação de Marlon Lipke.
“Queria muito surfar neste evento. Tinha sempre na minha consciência que o Marlon tinha terminado em 16º no ranking WQS e que precisava de mim para entrar no Tour do próximo ano. Somos bons amigos e eu gostava muito de o ter ajudado. Ele enviou-me uma mensagem muito simpática, por isso sei que está tranquilo com toda a situação”, disse ainda Tiago.
Amanhã, a ASP Europe irá publicar uma entrevista com o surfista português, que reproduziremos na íntegra aqui.
08 December 2008
Foram nervos até ao final naquela que foi uma das mais históricas etapas do Triple Crown em Sunset Beach, no Hawaii.
Depois de dias de competição onde o mar mostrou toda a sua força e onde os surfistas chegaram mesmo a recear a sua integridade física, a final em Sunset não podia ter sido mais recheada de bons surfistas: Jordy Smith, Tom Whitaker, o havaiano Marcus Hickman e CJ Hobgood, tendo sido este último a vencer a prova.
CJ mostrou muita confiança em todas as ondas a que se fez, as quais trabalhou com um surf muito sólido e, ao mesmo tempo, com muito power, tendo conseguido alcançar um score total de 15 pontos (num máximo de 20 possíveis).
Facto é que o mar variava com ondas entre os 7 e os 10 metros, não dando trégua a nível e segurando o público em ansiedade na praia e nos ecrãs de computador por todo o mundo.
O havaiano Hickman foi mestre das águas, mostrando ser bom conhecedor das suas ondas de casa, enquanto Whitaker também fazia o surf possível com aquelas condições.
Quem ficou muito aquém das suas potencialidades foi Jordy Smith que gozou de azar desde o início do heat. Primeiro não se conseguindo encontrar com o mar e, depois, sendo atinguindo por um set vassoura que lhe partiu a prancha e o obrigou a nadar grande distância até chegar ao canal onde se encontrava o seu caddy e uma prancha extra.
"Estava um tamanho perfeito e o mar estava bastante clean", contou Hobgood após a final: "Houve provavelmente um ou dois sets que eram enormes. Isto mostra-nos apenas de tudo o que Sunset é capaz de ser. Apenas lançamos os dados, vamos lá para fora e por vezes a Mãe Natureza é boa para nós e outras atira-nos para baixo. Estavamos quatro homens lá fora, mas nem sempre nos conseguiamos ver. É apenas Homem vs Nature lá fora e é isso que torna Sunset um desafio".
Os melhores surfistas do mundo preparam-se agora para fechar o ano competitivo com chave de ouro: o Pipeline Masters.
05 December 2008