” Ho brah, with those backhand snaps I thought you was going to win the thing brah,” reckoned Wade Tokoro, at the Quik house whilst the interview was being conducted. Photo: Thomas Portet/Quiksilver
26-year-old Tahiti based goofy Alain ‘Fafaru’ Riou became one of the few Europeans ever to make a Triple Crown final on Monday, with a 4th at Haleiwa. SE caught up with him at the Quik Europe team house near Pipe to find out how.
SE: First up Faf, tell us how 2009 has panned out for you.
AR: It’s been a good year overall, no injuries, I’ve had good boards and a few results here and there. I haven’t been thinking too much. I had one year before where I trained really hard and did a lot of mental stuff… which didn’t really work. Then the next year I did a lot of physical training, like a lot, which didn’t really work out either. This year I just took a few things I learned from those years and put it together. I listened to myself a lot more, if I felt tired I wouldn’t train, if I wanted to play golf instead of surfing, or watch a movie I did that, and it’s seemed to work out better for me.
SE: How does Hawaii suit you, coming from Tahiti. It’s a similar place to surf, do you feel at home here?
AR: I like it here but it’s never really felt like home to me. Yes, it’s bigger waves and reefbreaks, but that’s about all the similarities. The waves are different, the people are really different, the surfing done on the waves is different. But I still love it. We come every year for at least a month, stay in the same house, we’ve got tennis courts near, golf, the surf right in front. I never get bored here, hanging out with the boys, plus, you can spend all those dollars, it being the end of the year. It’s the last contests so everyone’s a bit more relaxed, normally if you’re gonna qualify you’d have done it by now so it’s a relaxed vibe. It’s not the dramatic finale it’s played out to be, for me anyway. We all have big expectations but nobody is stressed.
SE: How was your form at Haleiwa, how did you make that prestigious Hawaiian podium finish happen?
AR: I knew coming into these last two events that I had an outside chance of still qualifying if I made two semis, or something like that. The first few days were really small so I surfed a small board, I don’t know, I wasn’t worried about the contest, I just went out and surfed. Then we had a big break, like a week nearly, then once we got out there that last day I had to surf four heats. Those four heats seemed to go really easily, waves kept coming to me, I didn’t fall, it went almost perfectly. When you get a good result like that you look back and think, ‘What did I do differently from the other times?’ it seems so easy, and in a way it was.
SE: What about the future, are you still committed to the WQS Grind for next year?
Well 2009 isn’t over yet, you know? I still have a chance at it, so, I’m still focused on that. I’ll plan next year when Sunset is over, but the plan is qualify, of course. After a good result like this it boosts your confidence right up, so I’m focused on what I can do in this last contest, I still have a shot at it. Looking forward, I want to chase swells, go on trips and do all that but the ultimate goal is still to qualify for the WCT.
SE: Presumably you’ve done the sums, what’s needed at Sunset to get you in?
AR: I still need a Semis or better, so that’s another… (adds it up) six heats I guess.
AR: Oh yeah, easy (laughs). I’ve got Sunny, Kamalei Alexander and Granger Larson first heat, so it’s a tough one. But I’ll just do what I did at Haleiwa and take it heat by heat.
When you’re up, you’re up. Photo: Portet/Quiksilver
4th at Haleiwa gives Faf a bit of prestige, cash, and that bit of extra impetus coming into Sunset (waiting period starts today). Photo: Portet/Quiksilver
p.s. I went to Nice with Alain last winter, a 9 hour drive from Hossegor. He drove and played pretty much one song the whole way, by the Kings of Leon. Now it reminds me of him, well-behaved middle class pop rock.