After the big hoopla that was the Billabong Pipeline Masters, and the drama of the North Shore season, Oahu went a bit quiet for a while. Surfers left in their droves, but still the waves continued to pump. It’s the perfect time for a surfer to pull in and check out the scene without all the added tension of the crazy crowds, and get some perfect waves.
J-Bay style-meister Steven Sawyer did just that, with his family in tow. Zag caught up with the young goofyfoot to see how the trip was, what the waves were like, and if he came across any scary locals.
Zigzag: You’ve been away for ages. Where about have you been travelling?
Steven: I left South Africa in late November, and went to California for a few days, then on to Hawaii for two months. Earlier in 2011 I went to Australia and did a rad trip to Peru.
What was the most important thing you learned in Hawaii?
Hawaii was super humbling. I got a couple of beat downs nearly everywhere I surfed, and a good few scrapes. It was also interesting to see how the locals there treat the foreigners. I think here in J-Bay the locals are way softer.
Steven scored a couple of solid swells during his stay on the North Shore. © Sawyer
We’ve seen a couple photos of you charging some big ones. Tell us about that.
I had three solid sessions where I was a bit on edge. Waimea the one day – it was pretty uncrowded, but some solid waves, a couple of 12 footers coming through. I had a couple at Backyards lefts. There were a couple guys towing in on the right and my mate Benji and I were going left. The swell was expected to peak during that night, so it was still picking up. Just as it was getting dark Benji and the jetskis all left and I was out there on my ace and couldn’t get a wave in. Of course the biggest set of the session had to come through just when I was in the wrong place and alone. It broke on my head and I got beaten properly. I also had a couple solid sessions at Gas Chambers, which I personally think is better than Pipe, because it has no crowds and stays the same size till the end, while Pipe gets smaller.
What boards were you riding?
I had a 5’8″ my dad shaped at home which I took over, and then Eric Arakawa shaped me a 6’0″, 6’4″, 6’8″ and a 7’2″.
Who were you travelling with?
My mom really wanted to see Hawaii and my dad wanted to go back over to shape a couple boards again, as well as take a little holiday. We met up with the Brands there and we surfed together everyday.
Steven’s trademark backhand attack at Supers during the Xcel Pro Showdown at Supertubes. © Wilkinson
Have you set yourself any goals for 2012?
I still have to finish school, but this year I would like to earn a couple of QS points which should help me get off to an easier start next year when I’m done with school and hitting the qualifying series. I’d also like to practice some proper heat strategies, and learn how to grind out a heat win.
Who was the best surfer you saw on your trip?
I’d have to say John John (Florence). He’s good at everything. He does all the airs, cranks solid turns, gets the craziest barrels and he charges.
What is the best thing about surfing right now?
The best thing about surfing is always going to be getting barrelled. The worst thing is seeing guys like Julian (Wilson) doing crazy airs and surfing against guys like Parko who just does carves and turns and wins the heat. I love Parko’s surfing but you cant compare the two.
Look out for Steven Sawyer in 2012. He’ll be doing some damage.
Steven punches the sky in Peru. © Sawyer