I ask Josh Kerr when he’s going to win a world title and he laughs. “I’ll be lucky just to stay on tour this year,” he says. “No, I don’t think I have the head for that. Never even really thought about it.”
I’m trying not to laugh with him, but it is kinda funny. In the last five years, 2011 is Kerr’s third cold-start qualification for the WCT. On again. Off again. On again. Off again. Despite his carefree domination of the WQS, he can’t last a year in the big leagues. There’s no question he’s as talented as the other title contenders, but something in Kerr just won’t go “jock.” So why does he even do the tour at all?
“I don’t care if I win or not these days,” he says. “I just care about putting on a good show.”
As I entered his short-term rental in Sanur, everyone was gathered around filmer Jimmy Graham’s laptop checking the day’s clips. Onscreen, Kerr is punting a 6-foot air on a freaky little single-fin. Everyone’s tripping out on him. “You should ride that thing in the contest,” suggests Jay Davies. “You’d freak everyone out.”
Later we watch Kerr’s new movie, Kerrazy Kronicles, which will soon be a free download on Josh’s website, Kerr-azy.com. Created over the course of last year with Josh’s young travel companion and videographer (Graham), the film ranges from childhood home footage to maxed-out Soup Bowls, but the common thread is Kerr’s amazing aerial ability. Of course, his surfing is the full package, but above the lip he’s really on another level.
SURFING: When you were doing airshows all those years ago, did you ever think you’d end up on the World Tour?
Josh Kerr: I barely even what that was. All I knew was I was making 10 grand for a half day of surfing and it sure beat laying bricks.
Last year was kinda the year of your life (Landscape Altered, Innersection, WCT qualification, profile film). If you had to pick just one thing to keep from it, what would that be?
My movie [Kerrazy Kronicles]. That’s etched in stone. I’ll always have that. Nobody remembers who got 9th place on tour last year.
If money weren’t an issue, would you still do the tour?
Well, I don’t think someone like Kelly or Mick needs the money. They’re working on their legacy, really.
If I’m not at a contest and I see them getting really good waves, then I get pretty bummed. I’m competitive that way. I really want to be out there putting on a good show, but I’m not as concerned about winning a heat.
Do you feel the same watching, say, a river wave?
I love the novelty shit. Jumping off rocks into waves. Hand plants. Run-ats. I love that stuff.
Why don’t you bring some of that into the World Tour with you? Surf that single-fin or something?
I’d love to, but I don’t think I’d be there for long. Not a great career move, that.
Josh gave me a cool hour-long interview, all life, love and aerials, before he had to run out for a surf — but you’ll have to wait for the magazine for that one (and wow, Jimmicane’s got some smoking images).
Tonight he’s off to Un’s Hotel for the Bali premiere of Kerrazy Kronicles, then straight to the airport for a midnight run to Bells and more World Tour fun, which is all a pretty good metaphor for Kerr’s life these days. Juggling competition and freesurfing like a pair of flaming bowling pins. Cue circus music and don’t forget to pack that funky single-fin. He could win a title on that thing. —Nathan Myers
[Stay tuned for the full profile, and watch www.kerr-azy.com for the free download of Josh’s self-directed, self-produced, self-starring film.]