THE PORTUGUESE TIGER INTERVIEW
Billeted at the Billabong 'A team' house in front of Backdoor along with Joel, Taj and Andy, Tiago sits SE.com down in the yard watching small but pretty Pipe/Backdoor and natters through his ordeal against Shane Dorian, which featured two mash-up boards, a ripped off big toenail and plenty ketchup.
First of all Tiago, well done on requalifying.
Thanks, I'm stoked. Now I know I've made it for sure I can breathe easier.
Tell us about the Pipemasters. Stressful?
That heat is always a stressful heat, because basically it's deciding your career. The first contest of the year and the last are always the most stressful, actually this year the event in Portugal was too. But here it's different. You know the waves are so good, but at the same time it's tough. Any surfer out there can have a bad wipeout and get injured. It doesn't matter how good or bad you are.
So how does one get around that?
You want to be 100% focused on your technique, but you also have the competition side of it where you want to make the points, so it's finding a balance between that. Over here it really is a proving ground.
What were you thinking when you saw you had Shane-O?
It was probably an error, but I was thinking, 'OK I have to go big, have to charge whatever.' I ended up having a total shocker. You know Shane is one of the very best guys out there, of anybody in the world, always charging, always on the sickest barrels. I was just like 'Fuck, I have to go big, charge it, get the big ones, get deep.' In my mindset I was expecting an extreme heat.
And you got kind of beaten up out there.
So that first Pipe wave came at the start during the non-priority part I knew I was late but I thought this is gonna be a good one, could be a good score here. As I was dropping something just took the board out of my hands and I fell bad, onto almost dry reef. Then I went over the falls and hit really hard on the bottom and broke my board. But I was amped, I got my other board, went around and was back out there. Actually Shane didn't have a score yet I don't think. Then I got a little barrel at Pipe I got a 6 something for that, but paddling out the next one landed on me and broke my second board. I lost too much time changing boards. I think I still had chances after that still but luck wasn't really with me. It's a shame because I love this wave, I wish I had one of Miky's four bombs.
You surfed almost at the same time and he had four amazing waves and you not really any.
Exactly. That's the way Pipe and Backdoor is, conditions change all the time and you just have to make the most of it if it turns on for you. I was stoked for Miky but it was mixed emotions at that time because of how my heat went. I pretty much only needed to make one heat and I qualify without having to stress about other guys. But as it went I made it anyway, so I'm relieved right now more than anything.
Your year had a bit of symmetry with last year, a 3rd and then some pretty average results.
It's crazy how consistently inconsistent I am. I've always been a bit like that, I'd get a really good result on the QS then couldn't back it up. But this year I had an injury, I drew Mick and Joel in Australia second round, I had a few really close heats, Trestles, Mundaka, heats that could've gone my way but didn't. But every time I lose I just make sure I don't miss the lesson. There's always a lesson. I'm stoked that I get to prove myself next year again, and I feel like my surfing is still getting better every year.
What happened to the Euros this year? From 7 CTers to 3. Is Euro pro surfing in regression?
Joan should get into some events because he'll be the alternate. There are loads of youngster coming up and pushing it. It's a bummer the numbers have gone down from 7 to 3 though, we had a really fun year this year supporting each other. But we surfed against each other a few times which was unfortunate. Like I beat Tim in France, without that, he might have requalified. But it's the way it goes. Europe's still rising, more and more good surfers, Gony almost qualified. I'm stoked to see the level is still coming up. Next year Michel isnt going to be a rookie any more, he's gonna do some damage. Jeremy is such a good talent, he'll be a threat to the Top 10 again. As for me, I feel I can get up there in the Top 16 if I get it together, get more consistent.
What about the Rebel Tour? Has anyone approached you?
No, nothing. I'm about to sign my contract with ASP before I leave Hawaii. I don't know anything about the rebel tour. I don't think it's very solid. To attack an organisation like the ASP with 30 years of history you need to come up with something really strong for it to be beneficial for surfing. I don't think that's the case.
What goals do you have? What motivates you to tour in 2010 and beyond?
I'd like to win an event. All these years I've been putting together a team to help me and I feel now it's come together. I'm feeling more and more motivated, every year I'm progressing and trying to work on my surfing more, technically. I think about winning events, twice I've been in a position to, and that's what I really want to do.
Postscript: At the end Tiago asked me where all the English pro surfers are. I said they're probably at home, in Sri Lanka or at Lakey's. He'd like to see more Limey up n' comers over in Hawaii having a go and representing our islands. If you're a young rosbif shredder, take Saca's advice. Man up.