Bustin’ A Move Or Three

posted by / News / January 29, 2009

{{{Rabbit}}} Bartholomew has had a hell of a week. First came the Australian release of Bustin’ Down The Door, then came the news that Bugs had been awarded membership of the Order of Australia (AM) – the nation’s annual honors list, and a first for any surfer. To top it off, a press release burst forth just yesterday morning, informing all and sundry that after 10 years Rabbit was stepping down from his position as President of the ASP, effective this coming March. SURFING immediately called the Bugsphone.

ING: Rabbit, why has all this happened AT THE SAME TIME?

Rabbit: Well it was one of those ironic, amazing runs of stuff. The planets must have been in alignment. BDTD was to me a bit of a legacy – it was the story of a bunch of young guys who dreamed of something. Then the AM felt kind of like the accolade at the end of that journey. The timing of the stepping-down … that wasn’t planned to happen in sync, that’s just irony.

How long had you been considering leaving the ASP?

A year. About that. I saw this on the horizon, I knew it would be 10 years, To me the timing was of absolute importance. I was unhappy with the way my actual pro surfing career had ended, I had regrets from that time and I learned from it. It was a huge factor for me that this part of my career would end at the pinnacle, not on the downhill. I didn’t want to get the tap on the shoulder. I talked with one of my sisters about, and also with (old friend, the late) Denis Callinan. He’d been the one who’d nominated me for the AM in November 2007, before he passed away…then I got the AM notification a year to the day of his funeral…how’s THAT. Inexplicable.

So how do you find out about winning an AM, do you get like a phone call from the Queen or something.

(laughs) What happens is you bring in the mail one day and there’s a letter with a crown stamped on it. It tells you you’ve been given the award, and then it tells you that you can’t tell anyone about it till they make the announcement. It’s an investiture. In March I get to go to the award presentation, there’s a lot of pomp and ceremony. There’s a beautiful box with a series of different medals for you to wear on different occasions, and all this protocol for when you wear ‘em.

The press release from the ASAP says you’re leaving a big gap in the organization, but it’ll leave a big gap in your life too.

Well that’s a good one. People would have to be curious about this, stepping down in such tough times. But there’s opportunity out there for me in a couple of areas. One is the environment, and it’s a project that’s been brewing for a long time, it’s to do with the biosequestration of greenhouse gases. I can’t talk much about it yet but I hope to be able to very soon … it’s a mission I’m ready to embrace.

Then I might be involved in mentoring some pro surfers, maybe do some selective elite coaching. Mostly it’s to do with stay-at-home type things, and that’s a big factor. I’ve been jumping on Jumbos now for over 30 years, I’ve had a good run. My boys are getting older, for me it’s time to not travel so much.

What’s the succession plan?

There’s several ways to look at it. I was the first executive type President; before me it was always an honorary position. It might revert back to that a bit. I’d like to see someone who’s been a world champion, who has leadership skills and has a lot of respect in the sport – someone about whom everyone would go, “Well yeah! Fantastic!” If it stays an executive role, there’s a few people – it depends if they’re available.

Bloody hell. So what can we expect to hear next, are you running for federal politics?

Oh that press release, that one’s going out tonight (laughs)

Read the official ASP press release regarding Rabbit’s retirement HERE.

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