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The Mark McCarthy Interview

by on Thursday 15th October, 2009   7294 Views

prone barrel © 2014 damon crawford

Hey Boet, what’s cracking? Welcome home ...

Thanks bru. Stoked to be home! Mad long flight!

Before we chat about anything else: most eligible bachelor? You didn’t make the top 15… You must be bummed?

Well I’m not too sure as we only get the results back in the December issue of Cleo! I think it’s the highlight of my career so far as long as I don’t come last! I also saw that Daniel Worsley and Phillip Rodrigues entered. Dan got 99th and Phillip got 69th. No wonder Dan’s girlfriend left him for Phillip!

Haha! Ok, your flight over to South America, via Europe and Johannesburg had some good luck, sort of. Do you really think you got upgraded because you were a bodyboarder?

Hahaha, well that would have made for a great story, but maybe he saw the Cleo mag - he was an airhostess so you never know.

Peru. The Inka Challenge. The first day looked solid and really good for competitive bodyboarding. How is that setup you guys got to hit?

Peru was a great event, we surfed a beach break that the locals found 2 months prior to the event! The time of year was not the best but we still got one day of good swell! It’s kind of like Koeel Bay on steroids, but way peakier. It was such a mission to get there, 40 minute drive and a 20 minute walk along the beach. Kind of like the walk you would do for Gas Chambers on the west coast. I was just amazed that they had such an amazing set-up due to the logistics nightmare of getting the structure down the beach! They had to drive huge truck loads of scaffolding down to the beach. I don’t know how they were able to do a webcast! They also catered for all the competitors with an on-set catering company. I’m really looking forward to going back to this event next year as I think they are trying to push it for March which is summer there and the banks are meant to be better with a more favourable wave direction.

It didn’t go so well in your heat and you lost out to an inform Ben Player and a tour rookie in Michael Novy. What happened in that heat?

It was not the best start after not competing for 3 months. I just could not find any rhythm. It’s a wedgy wave that you had to be lucky to be in the right place on and I just couldn’t find the right spot. The waves were just eluding me and there was always someone on my inside. It was so frustrating. I couldn’t find a good wave and got a frustrating 4th in my first heat.

Ok, so Jeff took it in the end. He is looking good this year?

Jeff’s been in really good form recently, being fourth coming to Peru, he won 3 USBA contests back-to-back too. He surfed flawlessly in all his heats. One of the best heats I have ever watched was Jeff vs Winny in the Quarter final. Winny opened up with a 9 and then backed it up with an 8.5. Jeff was nowhere in the heat and it looked like Winny had it in the bag. But then with 7 minutes left Jeff opened his account with a huge invert on the right and then did a huge invert on the left to take the heat. That just goes to show you that a heat is never over till it’s over.

What else did you get up to in your time there? Get in any good surfs?

Not really, the contest site is the best wave around there so we just surfed there. Peru is so unexplored and I am sure there are epic waves to be found there.

Moving on over to Chile for the Arica Chilean Challenge and El-Gringo is one of your favourite waves. You must have been frothing a bit.

I was so excited for Arica. I was there a month prior to the event so I was feeling comfortable out there. I surfed everyday and it never got smaller than 4 feet in 3 weeks. I think the most crowded it got was 4 guys! How can you not froth on this place?

Where did you stay when you were in Arica?

For the first month I stayed with a local friend, “Tomate”. When the rest of the Science team arrived I moved in with them at a hotel in town, it was a sick crew. Tom Rigby (The Young Ripper), Magno (The Brazilian Force) and (The Wizard) Mike Stewart. It would have been nice if Jared Houston could have made it! I think he will be super stoked on that place! On the subject of Jerry though, I really feel he made a good call by staying for the SIC contest as he has really made a name for himself out there!

prone barrel © 2014 damon crawford

It looks like the bodyboarding community in Chile and South America as a whole is a very rich and culturally diverse one. Is Boogie pretty big over there?

Oh man, they just froth on bodyboarding in South America! It blows me away how a 3rd world country can afford to host an IBA event and other countries like the U.S. and Aus are nowhere on the circuit. They seem to be so passionate about it. Being in Arica for a month I cruised a lot with the locals. The Arica bodyboarding community are super cool guys and are always keen to help out.

Tell us about the Llama that became your BFF.

Well the Llama was one of Tomate’s many pets. He has a huge back garden so that thing just cruises all day. Tomate was so busy organizing the Arica contest so I missioned a lot by myself. I would just catch taxis to the beach and back. Anyway, I would come home and no one would be around so I just hung out with my Llama buddy. It’s one of the coolest pets ever! One day I got home from the beach and found the Llama ripped into 2 pieces!! The damn dog got hold of it! I was heartbroken! RIP my Paka!

Your first heat went pretty well and you managed to assist in the knocking of Hardy. Does this ever still feel surreal to you? Knocking heads with some of the best and then beating them?

Surfing against the world’s best is what drives me. I look forward to riding against the best and Ryan was the man to beat in Arica as he won the Pipe contest. It was not small at all with some 12 foot sets and the odd 15 foot west clean up. It was just such a nice heat as Ryan and Brad don’t jockey and rather focus on catching their own waves. I think we were all just trying to stay alive and get a few good waves and on that day Brad and I got the better ones.

All the guys on tour are really cool and we are all good mates. There is always a good time to be had.

Your next heat was in round 7 and was part of the man-on-man segment of the contest. You were up against Dubb and basically lead that heat from start to finish. Dubb wasn’t really anywhere until he popped that solid invert. Tell us about the heat…

I have been trying to forget this for months now!! So thanks… lol. It’s just the worst way to go down in a heat. I think I could have sealed the deal but held back on my 3rd wave when I got a massive second bowl and should have flipped it but just rolled. I was so bummed with myself! Prop’s to Dave as the invert was massive.

What were you thinking when he took off on that last wave?

Well I kind of knew he was going to get the score, he only needed a 5.5 and got a 6.6. When Dave got the 9 points I was stuck on the inside and he got to the back line before I did so he had priority and was gifted by getting that wave in the last 5 seconds! Heart breaking! Dave is such a freak in the water! He is one of the best riders now but is in my opinion still underrated. He is the kind of guy that can turn a 5 point wave into a 10 point ride.

We spoke briefly after that and I know how bummed you were about it. What do you do to lift yourself when you get faced with heartbreaking situations like that while you’re on the road away from home?

It’s never easy. I stay offline and don’t like speaking to anyone back home as it just makes it harder for me. I try to forget about it but that never really works. It is never easy losing. Mike once told me to treat defeats and wins the same but I’m struggling to stomach it for now. I remember not landing my backflip in the 2008 SIC final and I could not sleep for 4 days!! I still get back flashes!

Hectic, Boet. There was virtually nothing you could do to stop him due to the nature of the priority rule. Do you think you could have done anything different tactically to have beaten him?

Yes definitely, I had the really good wave with a huge 2nd bowl and could have flipped it to seal the deal but I was just too conservative! Oh well, I’ve learnt from my mistake and don’t think I’ll be doing that again!

backflip © 2014 barrel

Dubb then took his brother Jeff on in their semi - that must have been an insane heat to watch live?

No-one had their money on Dave to beat Jeff as he was in amazing form! Jeff took off on the first wave and got a 9! I am not too sure what was going on in Dubb’s mind when he took off on DK on his first wave! I think it might have just calmed his nerves as he got the only 10pt ride on his next wave! Amazing surfing from Dubb to beat the unbeatable.

Some are calling Dubb a bit of a dark horse to watch out for this year, what’s your take?

I think Dave is the dark horse at every contest! The guy is capable of anything! He has had a lot of bad luck after getting second in Arica but is absolutely dominating the DK tour! I don’t think he’ll be underrated for too much longer.

The man himself, Mike Stewart, took the event. What was that like for you and the Science team? We all did little jumps up and down this side of the Atlantic.

Haha, it was so epic to see Mike win! I have never seen him so stoked. I don’t know anyone that trains as much as he does. Seeing a 46 yr old man with tears in his eyes take out the world’s best was priceless. He really worked for his first place, on the road to victory he had to go against Ben Player, Dave Winchester, Amaury Lavernhe and Dubb, who were all riding really well.

What is it like having him around on tour as much as he has been lately? Can you draw a lot from him and has your relationship grown over the last few months?

I have always got along well with Mike. I have been travelling with him for the last 3 years. It’s epic to have him around, as he has so much knowledge and is a great person and a really good friend. Of course like all friends when you on the road for 3 months together you start getting on each other’s nerves but we have an understanding of each other though.

I saw you arm wrestling some guys at a jol, is that how guys roll there?

No that’s how the guys roll in the Bay! Haha… That was a funny night. It was the night when I got knocked out and we had too many beers so PLC wanted to arm wrestle before going out and ‘Bay Power’ dominated… I am not too sure if you saw the picture that the Chilean locals put on Facebook. I will attach the picture so you can check it out. I only went out on my birthday and went large and somehow picked up the name Mark-McParty.

And all this “jejejejejejejeklakl jejejejejkalka” sounds a lot like Kwaito music? What is up with that? Does it happen in public?

Lol and lol again!! That is so funny that you picked up on that! It’s the only way to speak to them and they love it when you go jejejejejajajaja! Hahahaha! I am sure all the guys that were there know what I am talking about!

There was a lot of support and following of this contest on the Sixty 40 Bodyboarding forum. You must be stoked with the guys backing you like that?

For sure Damon, I can’t be more grateful for all the support I get from the 60/40 crew and the forum. Without them I don’t think I would be talking to you right now. Just going online after my surfing a heat and seeing all the post’s about my heat really inspires me. Derek and Kelly are always there for me and give incredible support!

Next up was the mission to Europe and your first stop in Portugal. How was the trip over and where did you stay?

We stayed with a good friend Bernardo who hooked us up with a sick pad in Cascais for the Science team. I really enjoy Portugal. I wish all the contests were a month later, as Aug/Sep is the peak summer for them so there is not much swell around. But everything else is too good, the people are super friendly and the food it unreal.

What is the local bodyboarding scene like there?

It seems very healthy, at every beach we would go surf there would be at least 20 bodyboarders in the water. Guys are super amped on the sport over there. I think what plays a big roll, is all the bodyboarding schools, each beach we went to had a bodyboarding school.

Do you hang out with anyone in particular when you are on the road or do you try and keep focussed and keep a low profile? And sightseeing stuff?

I am up for sightseeing any day! Mike also digs seeing historical things and in Europe you can’t go wrong as the sightseeing never ends! Most of the time it was just Mike and I but Damian King would also come along as he was also staying at Bernardos place. I don’t think I have ever laughed so much as Damian has got to be one of the funniest guys alive! I swear he could have his own talk show with all his funny stories he tells…haha. It was great hanging out and getting to know Damian. He is such good company and sees the light side of everything!

The Viana Pro, Mariana beach. Your fist heat was right at the end of day 2 and seemed to go pretty well?

Ya, went well I guess. When I arrived on the beach in the morning Dubb came up to me and said to me “You did not have to wait too long to get your revenge” as I did not know that I had drawn him in my heat. It was not the kind of revenge I wanted but none the less he got 3rd and I scraped the heat with a 4.5 and 5. It was a super close heat and Dubb only needed a 4.8 and got two waves but could only get 4 and 4.3!

Day 3 and the man-on-man stuff again. The conditions looked as trying as they possibly could have been?

Walking over the dune and getting my first view of the waves I wanted to cry! It was not even breaking! It was by far the worst waves I have ever surfed for a contest!

prone barrel © 2014 damon crawford

You went head to head with one of the kings of the sport, Tamega. This heat went back and forth numerous times. Describe it for us.

Well I was stoked to draw GT, he is just the machine! I knew the only way I could beat him was to get the bigger waves and I was able to find the biggest wave and got a 6.5. GT only needed a 5.5 and I had a 4.5 that I needed to better. GT sat in the inside and somehow found a 6pt ride. I sat at the back and nothing came though, GT out strategized me to win. It just felt like GT was always going to get the scores he needed.

You were invited to take part in the expression session that took place between the semi’s and the final on the last day, with a little help from a friend.. a jetski friend that is. PLC took it with a massive invert in the end, still an experience and an honour for you I’m sure?

Yes it was good fun. Damian was driving the ski so whoever won the $100 would have to give Damian $50. We all got one pull each in the poor conditions and PLC somehow found the only waves with a section and got the crowd cheering.

Eder Luciano went on to win the final and had impressed many throughout the contest with his tight, neat moves. Do you think he got lucky with the swell that came through? Obviously you can’t pick and choose swell size or venues for contests yourself but the overall consensus seems to be from many that these small wave contests are killing the sport. Should there be an IBA focus and concerted effort to move all contests to punchier conditions, and possibly cut smaller events so as to leave open longer window periods to ensure as close to possible a decent sized swell for an event?

Eder is the new grovel king on the tour! He has got the best small waves technique ever!! He is not a small guy either. I wouldn’t go as far to say that he does tight and neat moves but he gets the job done! Doing huge ARS’s to rolls off the smallest sections, he was just unbeatable. It was so funny to watch how he put all his competitors in combination! He is a freak in small waves but can’t really bottom turn or scoop when it gets head high.

It does suck having so many poor-wave events on the tour. But thanks to the Grand Slam theory this has cut out a lot of the small wave events. Going to Europe in Aug/Sep is not the best time of year as its summer so there it always lacks swell! What also makes it harder is that most of the events are built around festivals so there is not much of a waiting period. I know small wave events make the sport look a bit miff but it gets bodyboarding out there and the IBA is coming out of a bad era. 3 years ago there were only 3 events on the IBA tour with a $15000 purse and now for 2010 we are looking at 20 events with $30000 an event. We also have the Box and a few new other good wave events knocking on the doors too. So it’s time for the IBA to cut down on small wave events and we can choose the better events. I am sure in the next few years we will have the SIC back along with Cloud 9.

Next up before the next Grand Slam, the Sintra Portugal Pro, you had a fair amount of time off - what did you get up to? Did you find any automatic granny’s packed away in broom cupboards when you looked for something to eat? You also entered the Sopelana Pro.

HAHA funny guy, well after Viana I drove up to the next event in Sopelana in the north of Spain. I drew two Canary Islanders in Deigo Cabrera and Ivan Hernandez. I was in 3rd for most of the heat and only needed a 4.5 but was blocked by the Canary crew and couldn’t catch a wave for 8 minutes!! I have never been so pissed off! I know it is part of competition and maybe I’m being a softy but wining a heat by blocking seems so gay. No one comes down to the beach to see guy’s jockeying with each other but rather to watch us ride!

Day 1 and day 2 of the contest seemed pretty average with some average waves. The Dubb seemed to light things up nicely though?

It was such a relief to finally ride waves with some power behind it! The first 2 days were some super fun 3 foot peaks! It was good watching Dre dominate in the early rounds. He was in good form but fell short in the top 16 round. The level of riding in the DK wasn’t great at all, but I made sure I never missed Dubbs heats as he is on a level of his own, it’s just unbelievable. I don’t think he ever scored under 18 points in total in a heat.

The Portuguese crowd made their presence felt throughout the event, luckily some good weather made beach going very possible. What was the support like for you in Europe? Do you find yourself being recognised like in South America?

It’s kind of the same but the South Americans freak out way more!! Haha…Actually no one freak’s out like to South Americans! But there was good support on the beach for all of the days.

You and Winny dominated your first heat in the Sintra Portugal Pro, and I noticed a few of the other TOP 16 really dominate their heats. Is this what separates the best? How much do you rely on your own instinct versus experience in a heat? Are you finding experience to be helping you in the long run, how?

Most of the top 16 is more experienced than I am. I mean if you look at the names on the top 16, they are the best riders in the world so they know how to win heats. But there are always upsets. I don’t think anyone in the top 16 has made it passed all their first rounds. There is always someone that falls out! It’s not just the top 16, but also the back 32 that has some dangerous dark horses! But you will most likely see a top 16 seed win. I think that comes down to “BMT”. I see guys that make it to the top 16 round all the time and just dominate the heat but then just go flat in the next round.

You drew Diego Cabrera for your heat 7 man-on-man quarter final. He had landed a mad ARS earlier on in that day and was also suffering a back injury. How did you approach the heat knowing you needed to get yourself into a position to make a charge for the world title now or never?

It was the heat I wanted so badly after what he did to me in Sopelana! I just wanted to go out there and get big scores and surf him out of the water ... there was alot on the line and I did not want to look back at this heat thinking I should of gone bigger.

It was a tight heat in the end that was fought out in tough conditions and you won via a rightly made interference call. What happened there leading up to that call?

Before the heat started we had a mean stare off. So it was game on from the start… He started off with a 6.5 and then I got an 8.9 for an invert. There was a strong side wash so I had to catch a wave in and run along the beach. I tried to for 20 minutes to get back out but set after set after set broke on my head… I finally made it back out and was exhausted! I have never paddled so hard in my life! There was so much on the line and I just gave it my all! So with 5 minutes left I only needed a 4.2… So my mate Diego sat on me for the whole 5 minutes. I paddled for a wave in the last 5 seconds and he was jockeying me so I rode into him and got a well deserved interference and sweet revenge.

This had you up against another legend going into to your quarter final, Ben Player. How do you prepare for a heat against the mighty BP?

I like surfing against BP, it’s always a fun heat and we are good mates. When I stayed in Australia in 2008 I surfed and trained a lot with him. He is such a technical rider so I learnt so much from him. So drawing him in a heat was something I was looking forward to. Just before the start we did a Paper /Rock /Scissors and I won to get the first wave of the heat.

BP was on form and racked up the only 10 in the event for the prone riders, what happened for you in this heat?

I had a good start to the heat by getting an 8 and 6.8 before BP got a wave. He then got an average looking wave that had an amazing side bowl and flipped to get 10s! I always knew that I had to better my 6.8 if I wanted to advance as BP needed a 4.8 to take the lead. The rest of the heat went flat and I could not get another good scoring wave. BP took 3 waves and could only get 3’s on them and finally got a 5 with an inside roll to take the lead. I was left out the back with a flat horizon and exited in 5th from the 3rd Grand Slam event.

invert © 2014 damon crawford

Your last stop on the way home was Spain and Dininos Beach, Ferrol, Spain specifically for the Ferrol Pro. Did you enjoy Spain?

For-sure it was so good there!! And I also got to defend my title.

Did you get up to anything interesting?

Definitely, we went to go watch Spain VS Holland at A Coruna, ended up drinking way to much savasa with the locals! It was so funny. You can watch it on www.mikestewart.com. Just click on the Science travel blog. We had a huge peanut fight and it ended it a mess…only got home at 8am!

Your round 3 heat on day two went pretty well and you were able to avenge BP for his lemon tree he gave you in Sintra. Was that a good feeling?

Ja boet it felt great, I was in 3rd then got a 9.5 that left a sour taste in Ben’s mouth in 3rd. Ben needed to make that heat to stay in contention for the title after getting 3rd in Sintra.

You landed up in your man on man heat against the legend himself, MS. What was this heat like for you? So much was riding on it for the both of you - Mike needed it to keep number 11 alive and you needed it to get into position for number 1. How did it go down?

Arriving on the beach in the morning I had a look at the waves and there were some fun lefts and rights. But from where the judges were sitting you could not really see the rights too well. I went to tell the judges but they ‘obviously’ knew better!! It put me in a pissed mood as they could have moved down the beach and had a better view of things. In my heat, the tide changed so much from the previous heat and there was a bad glare. We both had 5pt rides till Mike took off and did an outside roll and rolled again in the inside and got a 7.5! 7.5 for 2 rolls…‘alright’...So I was behind the 8 ball and needed a 7pt. I took off on a good looking wave and did a clean flip to 3 rolls .Padding back with a big smile on my face I knew I would get at least 8 to 8.5 for my last wave. So there it was. A 6.5 and it was not enough! You kidding me, I just felt like paddling in. I knew after that it did not matter what I did, the judges were never going to give me the scores I needed! In total I did 6 flips in that heat but got owned by the 2 rolls from Mike. I was still stoked for Mike as he is a good friend but hated the judges for not doing their job as I was going to do mine. Lemons, big lemons ...

In the end Winny took it, and landed a highly commendable 2nd in the DK side of the event. This really has left everything open and down to the last wire for the Canary’s Grand Slam event later in the year hasn’t it?

Yip it’s going to be a great showdown in the Canary Islands, not just for the title but for who is going to Qualify for the top 16. There are so many guys knocking on the door! Novy in 16th and Hugo Manuel, Luis and Diego Cabrea that can all make it! There is also a long shot for Mitch who missed the Chile event due to injury. So yes it’s going to be an exciting finale! The dream ended in Ferrol for me so I will be going for the top 5 finish.

air forward © 2014 damon crawford

Boet, thanks for your time and once again, very well done on your tour campaign again this year from the entire Saffa bodyboarding community. Good luck for SA champs too!~

Thanks to you Damon, it’s always a pleasure. I just a read your Haole Conversations article in issue 9 of Sixty40 Bodyboarding Magazine and it was so great! Laughed so much and still laughing…

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