MAX in NZ
Man like Max Huscenot got a new clip from NZ.
Just in case you missed it (?!) here's another peep at Max's interview from Surf Europe 78...
Euroglass surfboard factory, Soorts-Hossegor, mid winter, a few years back. Quik Team Manager Belly is recently back from Down Under: “You wanna scoop? Maxime Huscenot. Kid just won a pro cadets in Australia against kids three years older than him. Put that in your f**n magazine."
I met Max on Facebook this summer. Actually I think we’d met briefly a few times before here or there but it just seams easier online these days doesn’t it? Wrong as that sounds. We exchanged a few messages, tried to hook up the meet, possible shoots. We tried to make it happen but with various comps, Indo trips, more events, it was early September before we were both in town the same day.
We meet near VVF Capbreton late in the afternoon, the wind has been up for a few hours, swell 1ft and getting smaller. Max is staying in a small, angular apartment several blocks back from the beach, not the ocean viewed plasma lined atrium you might imagine for a rising surf star. He just got back from tennis, what he’s wearing I don’t recall. A t-shirt, trunks. No noticable tatts, self-adornment. Earlier in the morning he got back from the six star at Pantin, Spain, where he placed 9th.
Who are you, Max?
“I was born in France," Max explains in a familiar Fraussie twanged fluent English, “but moved to Reunion Island when I was two weeks old. Around 9 my parents were always swimming, put me in a sports club that did football, rugby, and surfing on Wednesday afternoons. I started on a bodyboard, doing 360s and standing up on it, at Roches Noir, a little soft right. The year after, I went to college (high school) and joined a course where you could study and do sports, and I started getting coached there. I got sponsored by Quiksilver when I was 12."
How did that come about, getting picked up at 12?
We went on a family holiday to Australia at 11 or 12, I always wanted to surf Snapper after seeing DVDs of Mick and Joel, etc, so my parents took me there. I couldn’t make the peak coz of the current and it was pretty big. Anyway my folks put me in a club run by Davo’s brother who was scouting for Quik and it started from there. Belly was over there for the comps with the Quik crew, he came and watched me and put me in the group.
You won the ASP Pro Junior title in Narrabeen early this year at just 17, in a field stacked with world class talent.
Yeah that was a big moment, going from being pretty much unknown to winning a world title. I’ve been going to Narrabeen for a while now so I know the place, the wave. We’ve been going every year and watching Jeremy compete there. A couple of years ago I did OK there and beat Dusty and made the quarters, and this year I was hoping to do something similar. I just surfed heat by heat, and kept making them, beat Owen, and went all the way.
You mentioned being pretty much unheard of before. Why’s that?
I don’t know, I guess I’ve just been doing comps, training, doing my thing quietly. Reunion Island is pretty far away from most of the surf media.
Has much changed after Narrabeen?
Not really. I’ve never had any pressure put on me for results from my sponsors, and this year is no different, even after winning that event. The plan this year was just to surf and improve, I’m still just trying to gain experience. But for sure it’s helped with getting my name out there, not many people really knew who I was before that, I wasn’t exactly one of the favourites.
How big an influence has the rise of Jeremy been on you?
I’ve been travelling to Australia heaps of times with him growing up, his Dad was my coach, so yeah I’ve followed his rise from pretty close up. I think when I was young I was surfing similar to him, kind of copying his style, but not really anymore. Mainly I’ve always watched what he was doing to win, more than his surfing. He was the best French guy ever, beating everyone, so I watched how he did all that, what he said in interviews. He’s from Reunion and he’s a big international surf star, so of course I’ve been trying to watch and learn from him.
And you want to fast track on the Championship Tour? Or take your time?
I’ve been just doing the 6 stars in Europe and the prime QS event travelling with Jake Patterson. I’m not trying to qualify, I’m trying to get ready to qualify. I get an ASP wildcard into all the QS events from the Junior title, which is one of the cool things about winning it, getting the chance to surf in the big events. It’s a big step up from the juniors though. Most of the guys on tour are really powerful and I’m just a kid still really. But I had some OK results, I made the quarters in Tasmania, trying to get some points for next year. It’ll be hard with one world ranking, so I’ll try to get as high as I can now to have a good seeding.
So you can surf in the Triple Crown too?
Actually, I heard the wildcard isn’t working in Hawaii (laughs). I don’t know why (laughs). I always wanted to surf over there in those events so I’ll just try to be in the top 80 or whatever so I can get in the events anyway.
You have much experience over there?
Not heaps, but I love it there. I’ve been three times. I love the power, surfing big boards, carves, barrels, everything. The first time I stayed with Spencer Hargraves at the Quik Pipe house. Spenny charges, he pushed me to go at Sunset, waves like that, we tried to surf everywhere just to get me some experience. Last winter I stayed with Joan, Aritz and Alain, following them and watching what they do over there.
That was a dramatic season’s ending, watching Joan just miss out.
Joan should be in the CT, it sucks what happened. He’s right up there with Michel and Jeremy as the best Euros in my eyes. I mean I never watch a goofy too much coz it’s too different, but I like the way he goes for it.
Who’s the surfer in the world right now you most look to?
I just think right now it’s Dane. He’s the surfer that just has everything, does everything. A lot of the young guys now can go huge doing airs but can’t do rail turns, then there’re some who do turns and airs, Dane being the best example, and that’s who I look at.
Do you get psyched up before a comp or chill out? Are you psyching on the waves or on beating people?
I’m excited to surf when the waves are good and people are looking at you, my focus is usually just wanting to surf well, I don’t mind so much about the result so long as I surf OK. If I can win, great, but I’m thinking more about trying to put on a show or something to watch.
What aspects specifically are you working on?
My surfing so far has been more about carves, turns, kind of contest type manoeuvres, not so much an air guy or charging barrels. I’m working on that stuff, and that’s also the kind of surfing that tends to get more photos, gets you noticed.
What about your image? Is building that something that’s important to you?
Yeah it’s really important. Look at guys like Kolohe Andino or Gabriel Medina, young guys who are already big stars, doing a lot of free surfing, sponsor’s trips, always in the big magazines. I’m trying. It’s harder for Euro guys to get on the bigger stage free surfing wise or in the international media, you kind of have to get results first to get noticed, and then you have to work at it. I made a clip for Innersection which didn’t make it in, but it was a good start to put something out about me, not just surfing in heats. We made it kinda quickly in Reunion but it turned out OK. Right now I just want to make my surfing better, get more known.
What about surfing itself? How much time do you spend per day in the water?
When the waves are good I’ll surf four hours per day maximum, like two two-hour sessions at most. I don’t feel you need to be out there surfing all day, you just need to surf well when you are out there.
What else do you do away from surfing?
Well I play tennis quite a lot. I want to start playing golf, I’ve been trying. When I’m back at home on Reunion it’s pretty relaxed, I mostly hang out with my friends, play a bit of poker, surf. I’m probably only home three months max per year though.
And when you’re over here in Europe, does it feel like home too? It’s all pretty different…
It feels like home, I’m used to it. I think for the European surfers, the Juniors for us are like a mini QS. We go to the spots were the big comps are, so when you hit the QS it feels like you’ve already done it. It’s the same for a Portuguese or Spanish guy for example coming to France, kind of home from home events. We’re lucky as Europeans to have kind of extended home shores. So yeah, it feels like a second home here for me, but it’s not exactly like being in Reunion. When I’m over here, each day I know I’m gonna be either surfing, doing contests or some media stuff, over here I feel more like I’m ‘working’… hahaha.