You’ve finally cracked the big time, why did it take so long?
Mate I was bloody trying, but it just took a long, long time. I think I just finally put a whole year together. In the past, I’d start one year good and finish shithouse, or vice versa.
Did you ever think about pulling the pin?
Well over the ten years there was definitely a few stages where I thought about quitting. One year I was injured, so that was probably the time I thought most about it. I also lost my sponsor, but then the years I came really close to qualifying, well it sucked me back in pretty easily. Plus the financial side was pretty heavy, I was never getting paid any good money, so it was like; When do I start trying to support the family properly and get a real job? Like how many times can I keep blowing the savings on another trip to Brazil? But luckily I had the support of my wife and family and friends. And I had the determination and the belief that I could do it. That’s what really kept me chipping away.
What would have the real job been?
Well exactly, my choices were made easier with limited options. I own a surf school and I do lot of surf coaching and I’ve always enjoyed that, and there was always the job site, but the thought of digging holes always kept me surfing.
You were helping coach Ace Buchan last year. Was that mainly waxing is board, screwing his fins and dying his hair blonde?
Well no, cause he can almost do all of those things himself. He’s a good mate and over the years he’s asked advice on heat strategy and preparation. Obviously he’s been a lot more successful than me, but last year he appreciated my opinion and liked my advice so he asked me along to a few World Tour events to help with coaching. And it just happened Trestles was on before Brazil, so I tagged that in and made the final. Brazil worked really well for Ace, but then I won in South Africa, so suddenly it was a matter of prioritizing qualifying for the tour.
So you dropped Ace like a hot potato?
Well yeah (laughs), but it was weird, cause I had committed to that so it’s funny how the world works, but I knew he was alright on his own. Maybe it helped my confidence knowing that those top guys were listening, so that in my heats I was reassured with my judgement and confident in what I was seeing and feeling.
Speaking of dropping things, I suppose you can drop the whole Irish deal now?
That’s a rubbish question Mondy! Look not all. As you know there’s about 600,000 Aussie surfers and I would have been just a number, chipping away. So the chance to surf for Ireland gave me a fresh look and a load of opportunities. And I had so much fun and learned a lot about my heritage, plus the whole Irish surf scene is growing and I was stoked to be part of it. And it really came about the year I had off with my injury. I spent a lot of time with my Grandad who is Irish and then decided to shake things up and move to Europe. I didn’t have any specific goals with it and I didn’t think I was doing anyone any harm. So I thought why not give it a crack and just roll with it.
Do you lose your passport if you don’t drink enough Guinness?
The truth be told I don’t even like it. I’m on the Murphy’s, it’s basically a softer man’s Guinness.
So now you are on tour, have you been watching Jon Jon’s video and practising your double grabs in the Umina beachies?
Now I’m making a point of not watching Jon Jon’s videos, I use to watch em, but not now. Look my one big goal is to try and be mentally strong and just try to match some of those insane guys with what I do.
Now your a big shot, have you upped your game on the Instragram, Facebook and Twitter?
Yeah I have, I now have three followers on Instagram, my wife, my mum and my Dad. But I’ve a new website, so look out, I’m coming in hot, but I’ve held back on the personal bodyguards. I don’t think it will be necessary.
What’s the travel posse like?
Well I’m with Wilko and Ace Buchan, which is a pretty strange mix isn’t it? I mean Wilko will be having Macca’s for breakfast and Ace will be doing a yoga session eating goji berries. I don’t know what I’ll do. I might do one day on, one day off. I’ll end up with a three pack.