Talking Heads: Tim Boal – Stepping up

Photo: Alex Laurel

SE: Do you wake up in the morning and go, ‘How lucky am I, getting paid to go surfing?’ or have you been in the game for so long it just seems normal?
TB: Yeah it seems normal, but then you hang out with certain people and get reminded how lucky you are. But yeah, maybe that’s the weirdest part, that it does sort of become normal.

Coming from being a top Junior surfer, how hard is it to make the transition into just another gimp on the WQS?
If you do well the first year when you come out of the Juniors it’s OK. For me it took a bit longer because in my last year in the Juniors I really wanted to win (the European Pro Junior) title, but got an injury and couldn’t do the last contest. Alain (Riou) was coming second at the time and he needed to get 3rd or better in the last event. I couldn’t surf in it, he ended up getting third and that was that. It took me quite a long while to get over that, or to regain the momentum. I never realized it at the time but now looking back, that’s what happened.

A little while ago you seemed to be flirting with the idea of not bothering with contests? Glad that now you are?
Yeah, it’s what I like to do, to measure my surfing against other guys. My first couple of years on the QS I wasn’t really trying my best so that’s when I needed help from other people. I had little direction, I didn’t know what I wanted to do and so last year, (2006) by mid-season I almost stopped surfing altogether, basically just burnt out. But after taking the advice of some people, French coaches like Didier and Francis Batiste, my girlfriend and my coach Xavier Hururt, it worked out OK.

Burn out?
Yeah, that’s what it was I think. Now I have to know when to stop surfing and take a break, and also when to start again, not just not surfing for two weeks.

You’re 24 now. Have you set goals or targets for your career? Where will you be in five years do you think?
Well, yeah. In January this year I said, ‘OK I’m gonna try and get on the CT’. That’s the first and main goal, I’ll give myself 3 or 4 years for that. Other goals than that are personal. (laughs).

Describe an average day for Tim when at home.
Wake up and check the surf, depending on what it’s like I’ll either surf or call my coach and do some training. Then maybe hit a bucket of balls at the driving range, check the waves again. I like to keep moving, but I’m not a freak like Aritz. (laughs). He’ll call me in the morning and go, “I’m about to go for a second training session in the gym, I just got out the surf. What’s it like up there?’ and I won’t have even checked it yet (laughs).

You’re known for having an eye-pleasing style. Is that important to you? Would you sacrifice it for greater competitive success?
No, I wouldn’t try and change it to be a better competitor, I’d just try and improve in general, and if that changes your style, then that’s what happens. But you don’t try and change it. Plus, I think everyone’s style changes with time anyway.

How do you see your strengths and weaknesses?
Strengths now would be having more fun, I look forward to competing more than being scared or stressed by it, and that was like my biggest weakness before. Weakness, without really talking about surfing, would be to go back to that negative mindset like before. It’s easy to go backwards again, so you just have to work at it all the time.
In terms of entertainment to the general public, many surf contests can be about as bad as it gets for the spectator, five seconds of action every few minutes hundreds of metres down the beach.

How could this change? Should it?
Yeah it should change, but I don’t know how. It’s true, sometimes, to be really interested you’d have to actually be competing in the event yourself, to be able to be really follow what’s happening! (Laughs).

Can you identify mistakes that you’ve made in your career so far? Things you’d change?
The biggest thing was not learning from my mistakes. Not really being involved with the people around me in my career when I was younger, like when I was with my other sponsor for example. Now I know it’s important to involve myself more.

From the current crop of hot juniors in Europe, who could make an impact as full pros?
Joan (Duru) is really good. He’s still really young, 18, and he’s strong, he surfs better than pretty much everyone, already. I mostly only know the French kids well; Charly Martin surfs really good, Marc (Lacomare) too. And then Frederico (Morais), I haven’t seen him surf yet, but everyone’s talking about him.

The French seem to have been dominating European surfing for a few years now. Why do you think that is?
Maybe that’s where everyone came when they came and settled, all the Australian pros, that and all the surf industry being here, so maybe that… but then actually Tiago’s doing better than anyone, all the Basque guys are doing good too, so I think it’s kind of even really, on the QS anyway.

You seem like someone who spends a bit of time reflecting on things. Tell us Tim, what’s it all about? Have you figured it out yet?
Not at all. I haven’t figured out anything. That’s a really hard question. (Laughs). Er, well for me, it would be just to have fun, and to do your best. Definitely do your best. I’ve just spent too much time not doing it, and that’s bad, frustrating. It’s a really good feeling to know at the end of the day you’ve tried your best at something, and if you didn’t make it, well, so be it.


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