(Interviewer’s notes: You wouldn’t believe the amount of crap a pro surfer goes through after something happens like what happened at Pipeline today. He is … deluged. Swamped! First there’s the seizure by the Kauai crew and the ceremonial beer-dousing in the Volcom house’s front yard. Then there’s the 10 minutes in a cooling-off zone just behind the presentation area, where you get to see your family and a few select friends, and sign a few autographs. Then it’s up to the stage, and the whole presentation ritual, followed by the TV interviews and the newspaper guys with their little digital recorders and “how-do-you-feel?” type questions, and then off you go to the media trailer for telephone interviews with radio stations in funny countries around the world… and finally, after all that stuff, SURFING pins you down in a corner with your cute girlfriend and makes you answer even more questions! Ahh, well, what the hell… this is why they pay you a million a year, I guess.) (Sitting down, a bit wearily, AI groans.) I’m strainin’, man! SURFING MAGAZINE: – You’re doing well though, you’re holding up.
Yeah well,… – You cramped up today Andy, what happened, when did it come on?
It didn’t hit till the semis, then in the semis it really hit me hard. I had a surf before the contest and got a few waves, then surfed five times … And just the whole contest vibe, you know, my body gets really strung out. I don’t think I relaxed at one point at all, the tension was such that I was tense the whole day and the running (up the beach) really took it out of me. I was cramping from my calves right up to my thighs. – The last week or so of this little showdown, did you think about what it’d be like to lose as well as to win?
I was thinking more what it was like to lose than it was to win. Waay more, yeah. For sure. The whole year it was like “Runner-up’s fine, that’d be killer, last year I won…” Then I remember Mick, my room-mate Mick, he was like, “What’re you doing, buddy? You’re not even over! Runner-up, what’re you talking about? You’re gonna kick his ass! Take it!” And I’m like … well you know, yeah, what am I thinking? Almost beat myself before it’d started. So definitely a positive room-mate helped me out.
– Sunset Beach sorta turned it around, that’s what gave you a shot at it.
Yeah, well that (Mick’s speech) was right before that contest. – Do you think you react well in a four man heat? You look as if you have ’em under control.
Yeah. Often I get too overamped. I mean at Haleiwa I got an interference on my first wave. I can go both ways. As long as I have the patience to work it to the point where I know I can squeak second if I’m not gonna win the heat. I’ve been surfing four-man heats all my life, amateurs, the QS … getting used to man on man has been the hard thing for me. – Did any of the competitors today show any reluctance to tackle you because of what was going on between you and Kelly?
Oh, my semi with Luke Hitchings was radical! I knew he was trying to qualify and he wasn’t gonna roll over for anything in the world. He was the hardest guy for sure. He really wanted it. I sat right next to him and he wouldn’t give an inch. It got to the point where I’d be looking out the back and there wouldn’t be a wave, and I’d still be pretty scared, like, he might do something.
– It was very close, that semi, were you very wired up in it?
Oh that was the big one. That was for the Triple Crown, and I was thinking, “Let me get in the final at least! If Kelly wins, whatever, I’ll still get a consolation prize.” I was trying to think of the positive stuff. – You surfed your two most critical waves today on boards that were buckled. Tell us about ’em.
Well the first one I think was in my quarterfinal, yeah. It was my first wave, I went left and buckled it under my foot. I looked under the bottom and thought it was sweet but then looked up at the nose and saw the buckle so I called for my caddy to come down and bring me the board I needed. Thought I might as well stay out there and catch a wave, caught the wave, dropped in, it felt all right, but when I bottom turned I heard the biggest tearing sound, tore (the glass off) to the fins. It slowed me down actually, perfectly to get into the barrel. So I came out hoping it’d stay together long enough to do a little cutback, and got a little pocket barrel and rode straight to the beach, looked underneath, and I was just riding foam.
– Explain the second buckling.
OK, the second one was in the final. I wasn’t sure if it was buckled but then I had a close look and it was a full buckle. I thought try to stay out, catch a couple of waves, get a good one, get something under my belt. I paddled back out and sure enough a good little wave came to me. I paddled into it, a little sketched about it. There was kind of a little warble inside the wave and I thought “Oh yeah! Just stay together a little longer!” I came out and did a little turn just trying to get as close to the beach as possible and it went urrrgh, a full Zodiac (flex). It was a 6’6″, I had three of ’em and used ’em all today. It’s like my favorite number right now, I love 6’6″s, it was one of my favorites growing up so I always have three or four of ’em. – You’ve got quite a crew behind you. They printed up these shirts and hats, all this stuff, does that weigh on you?
Oh yeah, yeah, well last year they had “Kauai, World Champ” on the shirts. This year they just put “Hawaii 03″ on the back. And I thought that was a bit much going on, Billabong was all psyched and supportive, they were going “You’re gonna do it!” And I was like the big what-if, like “Well, what if I don’t? I’m gonna look like the biggest turkey wearing all these shirts around. I’l be the first guy in hstory to have a whole football team’s worth of shirts and be runner-up.” so I was trying to block that out but it was definitely in the back of my head a little bit. – Do you think the win today further opens the door for guys like you and Mick and Parko and so on to come on and dominate the next five years?
I hope so. I hope so. I’ve been on a few years now, this is like my seventh year — sixth, not sure which one — but look at Mick, he got fifth his first year, I think this year he’s fourth, he’s just edging away at it and I’m sure next year he’ll be hungrier than ever. Same with Parko. Both those guys just came on tour and they’re blowing up. Then there’s guys like Taj. There’s so many of ’em coming up it’s radical. My brother’s gonna be on for the first time so it’s gonna be exciting to see what he can do. – Are you guys friends at the moment?
Yeah. right now we’re on talking terms. we’re on hugging terms actually. He hugged me when I came in, that was awesome! And I said to him, “This clears up what you did to me at Trestles”. Threw a little guilt trip on him. Just for backup. – You’ve been living up there at Off-The-Wall with Mick, is that inspirational for you?
Oh he’s awesome. We’ve got about 10 people staying with us there the last two weeks. It’s radical! The biggest crew this year. But …Mick’s super inspirational to me. He’s such a positive kid, he’s really nice, and really easygoing. Really good manners, his parents really raised him proper. He’s really inspirational to me. I’ll get in a bad mood and he’ll tell me, “Quit whingeing!” And I’ll go whoa, what do you mean? And he’ll say “What’re you whingeing about? What’s so bad?” And Lindy always keeps me good. (Lindy’s his girlfriend; she’s sitting on his lap at the time, and he kisses her on the shoulder.) She keeps me all stoked. She’s really good to wake up next to. — Nick Carroll