We flew down here to Australia about 1 month ago to compete in a 4 event leg and stop 1 was Newcastle. I had been to Newcastle twice to compete in WQS events before I qualified for the WCT. I did terrible in both events. The second time I actually told my brother Parker that I was thinking about quitting competing. I had had a terrible year on the WQS the year prior, and when we came down to Australia I lost first round at Manly and then second round at Newcastle. I was so frustrated with competing, and I was ready for a break. He helped to convince me otherwise and I decided to give that year 100 percent of my focus and effort, and it paid off!
So, coming back to Newcastle that event was in the back of my head. Although last time hadn’t gone well, I was excited to try and put that in the past and have a good contest. I’m a better surfer now and definitely a way better competitor. Typically a place of tricky conditions, I knew Newcastle was going to be a challenge for me, but I was excited for the challenge.
The week leading up to the event was so fun. I got to surf a bunch of fun little days up and down the coast and also put in a bunch of time dialing in the various breaks and line ups at Merewether. The weather was beautiful and we had multiple fun beach days surfing with Micro and the crew, trying new boards, and running some practice heats.
Day 1 of the contest kicked off in REALLY bad waves. I was heat 1 of the day, the tide was low, and the waves were tiny. It was hard to even figure out where to sit to pick off whatever tiny waves were coming in. My heat was extremely slow and the first couple of waves I caught I surfed really badly. I only needed a 4.17 at the end of the heat, but didn’t get myself in the right spot to catch two waves that I could have gotten the score on. I was frustrated and a bit negative on the conditions that we were running in. I got third place in the heat and was kicked to the elimination round. I broke down the heat with Micro and we had a few key takeaways. The main one, was that it was clear that this event wasn’t going to be like a normal CT event as far as conditions go and that I needed to make sure I was ready to get super scrappy and have a positive and fired up mindset no matter what conditions were thrown my way.
Although I was bummed to have a bad heat, I also felt like I really used this heat to lear and use as fuel for the rest of the event. I surfed a bunch later that day and the next two lay days in small surf and felt way better by the next round. Sierra and I were really enjoying our time in Newcastle and I felt in a really good headspace going into the next round.
We had a sneaky day of pumping surf for round 2 and I had a solid head. I got second, but my board felt great and I was happy with how I surfed and competed. That felt like a nice momentum shift and from there things just rolled along. My boards felt so good and I was able to pick decent waves in my heats, surf them solidly, and get into the quarter finals.
In the Quarters I was up against Filipe Toledo. He sat on the inside rock break and I chose to sit out the back on the main peak. The tide was still high but there had been a few good ones out there. I felt it was the best way for me to find a point of difference and lock in some big scores against Felipe. Unfortunately it went EXTREMELY flat out the back. I finally got a wave and did one big turn and was rewarded a 6.17. Felipe had a 7 from the inside and came out the back to sit with me. Unfortunately he had priority and the next wave that came he caught. With 40 seconds left, I was so excited to see a wave pop up and know that I was going to get the chance to get the score. It was a medium sized wave so I knew I was going to have to surf it up. I got two turns out the back and rode it all the way in to the rock break. It turned out that I got the score I needed but Felipe had bettered his score on the wave before! DAMN! I was stoked on how I competed and held my composure to give it a good crack at the end of the heat.
All in all, Newcastle was EPIC. It’s so good to be in Australia and it’s amazing to be living life without Covid. The locals in Newcastle were so good to us and it was really fun to see all of the kids psyched on the contest. We loved our time there and are just getting settled here in Narrabeen for stop number 2!