Pottz On 80’s Pro Surfing
When I was World Champion, surfing to me meant… Money. Surfing at that stage to me was a business. I was trying to make a living the only way I knew how, which kind of ruined the actual feeling of what surfing really means to me. As a kid growing up, it was about riding waves, and the experience that you shared with your mate on a road trip. It was grass roots. Once you turn professional and you start doing it as a job, as a living, you want to make money from it. You want to be the best, you want the best contract and you want to win events and win money and survive. For me, it was all about treating it like a job.
And today? I’ve gone back to basics. I’ve gone back to that pure unadulterated feeling of putting on a wettie and going surfing. These days I go surfing with my little guy. He’s almost 14 and I’m trying to teach him that same feeling I had, of purely riding waves for that stoke of surfing. I’ve come full circle. We always look for the most uncrowded spot where there’s no people, no cameras and no humans and we just ride waves for ourselves. It’s back to basics.
Partying? I love it and I always have. Maybe not as much these days because I’m a bit older and bit more sensible, but done at the right time, at the right place, I love it. It’s a part of life. You have to enjoy your life. You’re only here for a short period of time. You don’t want it to be boring and straight.
Fatherhood: It’s why we’re put on the planet. It’s one of the best feelings in the world. I’ve got three beautiful kids. My daughter Maddie is 22 years old. Jack and Bella, my twins, are almost 14. It’s my best accomplishment ever. The only thing I wanna do right now is be the best dad humanly possible. That’s my mission in life.
Women: I have three of them in my life; my beautiful wife Katie, my daughter Madeline, 22, and Bella who is 14. To me they are the only women I care about and the only women who mean anything to me and the only women I’m scared of.
Aerials then… Were raw, fresh. It was about trying something that had never been done before. They were unique. They were frowned upon. I remember Simon Anderson said surfing’s meant to be done on the water, not out of the water. To me aerials were an expression of my imagination and an extension of the way I wanted to surf. Projecting the board out of the water was a continuation of a re-entry to me and they were exciting.
Aerials now… Are unbelievable. Never in a million years did I think at the beginning of the aerial movement that it would go this far. It’s a stand-alone manoeuvre. You need to have it to be on tour. You need to have it to pick up a sponsor. If you can’t do an aerial in this day and age, forget about it. It’s a staple, it’s a part of every day surfing, everyone wants to do it and if you can’t do it then you better learn how. I do think people can focus too much on it. When you look at the good guys – John John, Julian, Josh – there’s a healthy balance between airs and manoeuvres – and to me that’s the way it should be. If you focus too much on airs, they become boring and get overlooked. If you save them for special occasions, when the timing is right, if they’re done functionally in those moments, then you’ll get the wow-factor that we all want.
Rivalries: I love ’em. I think they’re healthy. I think they’re a necessity. They push you, they drive you to be better, to beat another human (or humans). If you go back to Andy and Kelly they made for great viewing and for unbelievable surfing. It’s not that they hated each other; they just wanted to beat each other, bad.
Good rivalries today? Kelly versus the world? (laughs) That’s the way I see it. I think most guys in this day and age are pretty comfortable. There’s enough butter to go on everyone’s bread so we’re not getting as much friction. De Souza and Kelly was a pretty good one. But I think apart from that everyone’s pretty chummy. You don’t have that heavy sense of rivalry we used to have back in the day. Like me and Gerr…
Kelly Slater: A freak of nature. Unbelievable. Kelly brought surfing to the mainstream. He’s the Jordan, the Woods and the Ali all rolled into one. He’s one of the greatest athletes that will ever walk the planet; certainly in my lifetime. I don’t think we’re going to see another surfer like him again. I really doubt it.
Brazil: I love to see the Brazilians on tour doing so well. It’s important for the growth of the sport. Without them, we’d be too fat and too comfortable. Their success is making everyone work a lot harder and be better at their trade because at the moment they’re taking over and good on ’em.
Online trolls: Who are they? I don’t really give a shit. We’re doing our best to grow the sport and make it better visually with the structure and broadcasts. We’re only doing our best to make it better, and the haters, the people that have that negativity, as far as I’m concerned they can go and get fucked. If they don’t like it, turn it off and go and watch tennis.
Characters in surfing: A character can still be professional and turn out wins in the World Title race. I think it’s important for each person to have his or her own individual character. I don’t want to see a tour of people that all follow the same beat. I like someone who walks to the beat of their own drum.
What Else. Share waves. Our sport is growing so fast and there’s more and more people in the water and I’m seeing more and more aggro out there. We’ve lost that respect for each other. I never ever see anyone give each other a wave any more, which I think defeats the purpose of surfing. I think to be able to paddle out and give someone a wave, give a smile, share a wave or moment together; is the true basis of surfing. We’re all take, take, take and no give. And I think the more we take, the further we stray from the essence of surfing.