Archi finds shelter from the strong onshore winds in Hossegor in a cosy little café to talk about the Tour, Joan’s change of sponsor and his objectives for the coming year…
SE: Looking back at the ’09 season Joan, everything was looking good with good results in major 6 stars events, wins in Vendée and Lacanau and then not qualifying… how do you analyze this today?
Joan Duru: After Lacanau, I knew I needed another good result so I went to a lot of contests and didn’t do well, the pressure built up on me. I was losing just one round away from getting the result I needed, fucking up my heats with little mistakes, little details that didn’t go my way.
SE: A lot of people said that you should have qualified equal 15th having a 6-star win that bettered Blake’s best result, what’s your take on that?
Didier Piter: It’s written in the ASP rule book, no discussion about it, in case of an equal place you count your last 5 best results and unfortunately that gave the edge to Blake. It is a hard call especially because equal places never happen at such a critical place in the ratings. A victim of the numbers I guess…
SE: Then the Hawaiian events were there all of a sudden…
J.D: Yes and as I said I had a fair bit of pressure but in a way I was happy to be in Hawaii, looking forward to surfing good, solid conditions. I felt comfortable in the water especially at Sunset and again it came down to small mistakes. And today, I’ve learned from those mistakes (Joan eyes Didier with a smile).
Didier Piter: For me looking back at the whole season, his biggest mistake was in Scotland in his semi-final against Luke Munro. I followed every heat last year, either on the sand or via the webcast and I knew that his priority mistake would cost him. You can’t give back priority, even in the dying seconds of a heat, to a surfer like Munro…
SE: Was that inexperience showing through?
D.P: Yes, but what I liked is that he kept his momentum, kept his fighting spirit alive. He got a few other good results before his win in Lacanau. I thought he had enough points to qualify at that stage.
SE: Joan you kept a smile on your face after that super close call, a lot of guys would have been devastated…
J.D: You need a bit more than that to bring me down (laughs)! Overall I had a pretty good season. It was my first true full season on the WQS. I was a bit disappointed for sure but to tell the truth I’m not sure I was quite ready for the top level. I feel ready now and fully confident, ready to charge!
SE: Is there any specific aspect of Joan’s surfing you guys are planning on working on?
J.D: Big moves, that’s where you get the points nowadays, the money turns!
SE: So Didier, you are back on Tour this year… following Joan?
D.P: Yes, I am going to go to Fernando do Noronha with him and then all the major European events. I was in charge of the European juniors which is still the case but I will be traveling with Joan this year, it was part of the package that made him join the Volcom team. For the other big events, it will be up to him really because he is also traveling with his physical coach and mates like Marc Lacomare.
SE: How did that change of sponsor come about Joan?
J.D: I had been with Quiksilver for quite a while and I needed a change. I am 20 now and I wanted something else. It is hard to be number 3 or 4 all the time in the team and I wanted to be the leader. On top of that Volcom’s image and philosophy fitted my surfing. Less pressure on results and pushing you toward becoming a more complete and balanced surfer, it is what I was after really.
D.P: We had been following Joan for a long time, through his impressive progression, through his injuries and I think he came to us naturally. Volcom recognized Joan’s value and so did he and we were also looking for a European leader. Kids in the water point him out as the best guy in the water even if that doesn’t show just yet in the rankings and that means a lot to us! It is an amazing match, a true win/win deal (laughs)!
Now Volcom’s mission will be to make Joan comfortable, without any pressure to let him become Joan Duru! We’ve got the expertise at managing top surfers in that way, look at Bruce Irons, he decided to quit competitive surfing and we are still backing him.
SE: Joan, looking at the Europeans results on Tour last year, what’s your take?
J.D: It always comes down to the same things: considering their level of surfing they could have done way better but it is the lack of experience that is the problem. European surfing is still a young affair. It is changing fast but I saw a lot of heats where they lost to little details. A few more heats and all that will be fine-tuned for these guys.
D.P: I would add that it is important to be patient. It is so easy to burn yourself competitively. Most of these guys are young and they will definitely have another chance at it. It is exactly the same thing for Joan, we don’t want to push too hard, give the guys some time and they will deliver.
SE: Do you guys watch all the webcasts?
D.P: It is an excellent tool for a coach, you can give feedback to a rider at the end of his heat even if he is on the other side of the world. And nowadays, with the replays, the commentators in different languages, it is sometimes better than being on the beach! The best invention since the Thruster!
SE: What are your objectives this year Joan?
J.D: To enter all the big events and choose quality over quantity. I want to be in good shape and perfectly ready for those contests.
SE: That big right you surfed the other day is the perfect training ground for a big Margaret river, for example?
J.D: (Laughs) I was a bit under gunned on a 6’1”! Couldn’t really get into the barrel early enough (laughs). But yes, doing well at Margaret would be great, it is where you can impress the judges and that’s important for the rest of the season.
D.P: Definitely a wave that suits his surfing!