Jordy Smith Interview: "I'm Gonna Throw Down the Hammer"

Craig Jarvis

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Updated 287d ago

There has been much rumour on the wires in South Africa of Jordy Smith’s performances in Cape Town of late.

The dude has been scoring such firing beachbreak barrels, and story has it that he lucked into one of South Africa’s best secret spots as well. Not bad for a long summer in drought country – Cape Town hasn't had any significant rain for three years. Anyway we checked in with Jords, just as he turned 30-years-old.

Howzit dude! Happy 30th birthday for the 11th. What have you been up to?
I’ve just been getting such good waves everywhere here in Cape Town. I’ve been training and have gone on a few strike missions, up and down the coast, and have just been scoring.

A little while ago, I paddled out at Llandudno, [thick, wedging right-hand beachbreak near Jordy’s house] and it was big and quite gnarly, but with some bombs coming through. Eventually this rogue eight-foot set that caught me just worked me so bad.

I got washed right up on the beach, from way out the back. The set washed over the beach and surprised a few people, hitting them hard and drowning a few cellphones and stuff. Pretty funny.

How does it feel to be 30?
Are you kidding me? It’s the greatest thing to be here, and to be going around this planet for another year, surfing great waves, hanging with friends and family.

Life is good, and things are going great at the moment. I’m just really stoked, and blessed to be living this life. At times it’s hard to believe that I’m 30, but nothing changes. At times it’s hard to believe that I’m 30, but nothing changes

You know, I love surfing, but since I was a kid I have been all about competitive surfing, about being the best and about winning heats and events.

That hasn't changed, and while is still my ultimate focus, I also need to be having fun. I’m not thinking too far down the line at this stage, but I’m not going to be doing things in life unless I’m having fun along the way.

With a runner up position on the Championship Tour in 2016, and a fourth place last year, are you just as focused as ever?
Yes I am. My goals are exactly the same to be perfectly honest. Not much has changed at all, as far as my competitive career is concerned, but I do also want to maintain a good and happy life.

I haven’t achieved all my goals, so I am going to continue along this road in order to do that. There is no slowing down at this stage, and you’ve just got to throw down the hammer you know. Keep pushing as hard as you can.

Jordy at Cloudbreak.

Jordy at Cloudbreak.

© 2018 - WSL.

You went into Hawaii looking and feeling good, and ended up the year as mentioned, in fourth place. How did you feel at the end of the year?
You know, I had one of the best years of my life. It was an incredible year for me to be honest, and bar one or two bad results, I thought that it was just a shit-load of fun. Hawaii was great.

I was surfing great and I was relaxed and Hawaii is always an amazing place. The pressure was there, but after Europe, it was all pretty much done and dusted from my side. Before Hawaii, I won the contest that I have wanted to win for a lifetime, and having a Bells title was one of the highlights of my career.

I also had a 20-point heat last year, and they’re even more rare than a world title. At the end of the year I was stoked about that year for a number of reasons. One of the things I realised during the year however is that sometimes you just can’t create your own luck, despite what people say. I also had a 20-point heat last year, and they’re even more rare than a world title

Sometimes there are things that happen in a heat that you can’t control, and you just have to deal with them, you know? I have no regrets from last year – shoulda woulda coulda – and sometimes mistakes end up in your benefit. I remember surfing against Ace (Buchan) during the year, and he caught this really crappy left and he fell off. Then right where he fell off, on the next set, this absolute bomb appears for him, far away from where the waves had been breaking all heat. You can’t control that sort of shit.

There was a year on tour, a few years ago, when there wasn’t much joy. When it was like, so hard to get through a year and everything was conspiring against me, or so it felt at the time, but last year was great. There were so many good things about it, and so many good things that happened.

What are you thinking for the competitive plan for this year?
Carry on as before. There are little things that I’m going to look at, to try and up my game, and it’ll be an exciting year. I’m looking at a few boards this year from a bunch of different shapers, like my dad, JS, Merrick and Gally. A few tweaks here and there will make a difference. It’s a new year, I’m frothing. Things are going great. I’m ready for it.

All good with Gally? [Jordy’s coach, former professional surfer Chris Gallagher]
Yeah, he’s great and will be attending some events with me this year, and I think my dad is going to attend a bunch of events as well. Both of them do great work with me at the events.

What are your feelings on the Surf Ranch?
As far as a wave pool goes it’s pretty cool. It’s actually fucking exciting. It’s different to surf, and it definitely needs different equipment out there.

I think I might try to surf it on a really small board. That stuff that Mick was doing on a skim board was pretty cool, so maybe it’s smaller equipment. You just need to catch the wave you know, and then you need a small board.

I didn't really fit into the left though, it was really small and crumbly, and with the wind blowing the lip down, it definitely seemed smaller than the right. I heard that they might make it a bit bigger for the event, because they have the technology.

The whole setup is pretty crazy though, and it makes you wonder where we are going to go with this sort of technology.

Surfing it?
You’re always surfing forward, and it’s fast and it’s so much fun, but you’re always getting pushed forward, never backwards.

At times it’s kinda hard to read as well. It’s also not that difficult to surf. The skill level is quite low. Most surfers should be able to take off and pull into that barrel section without too much of a drama. At times it’s kinda hard to read as well. It’s also not that difficult to surf

Then the air section allows for only three types of airs as far as I can make out – an alley oop, a straight air, or maybe a kerrupt – but it’s really exciting and it’s going to be great to see how the event goes.

The Surf Ranch and Keramas are both going to be so much fun this year. I am also a big fan of Keramas and that wave really suits my surfing, so that’s a great inclusion for me.

Where are you with boards?
I’m working on similar areas as before, but as I mentioned earlier, I’m going to work with a couple of different guys.

As we go into more specialization, it becomes obvious that you need more boards for specific conditions, and you can’t just travel with five boards anymore. You need so many boards for specific spots and conditions. Gone are the days of an all-round shooter.

There are so many great options these days for great boards, new technology, and incredible shapers.

Any new videos on the starting block?
You know, we have been banking some clips down here in Cape Town, and we scored one of the best secret spots in the country, that we captured on video. A young guy, Dan Mace, shot the whole thing and I can’t wait to see what it looks like.

Was it good?
It was absolutely firing, mainly near the bottom. I scored it with Ricky Basnett. It was good to get a few with Ricky Bobby.

Well done. Good score. Your friend Dan. He’s a great videographer, but does he know the sensitivity of that spot?
Oh yes. Nothing is given away. Dan’s one of the good guys, and he also knows the lie of the land. No need to worry about that. I want to go back one day as well.

Cover image: Jordy pre Pipe by Tony Heff/WSL