16 September, 2016 16 September, 2016

Five Minutes With Jordy Smith

The morning after winning at Lower Trestles and having it all sink in – by Alan van Gysen.

Teahupoo, Los Angeles, London, Cape Town, Namibia and back on to Lower Trestles for the eighth stop on the Samsung Galaxy WSL tour; Jordy Smith is a busy man. But all that flying doesn’t seem to have negatively affected the young South African. On the contrary; travel and spending time with friends in Southern African are what set Jordy up for his third world tour event win this week, and propelled him up to fourth on the Jeep leaderboard. We caught up with Jordy the morning after his big win…


Jordy’s powerful rail game that sealed the deal at Trestles. Here it is on the walls of Supertubes.

Zigzag: First off, congrats Jordy, every South African who knows anything about surfing is ultra proud, well done! Did you have a big night?

Jordy Smith: Thanks guys. No it was actually quite mellow. We just went to dinner and enjoyed an early evening.

ZZ: Tell us about the event?

JS: The event was pretty good. I think wave-wise everyone had pretty good heats. Ya you know bar the controversy that followed and was a part of this event. I think for me it was just about maintaining a very open mind and just kind of being humble and mellow with my approach and not thinking too much before, or how much stuff had already happened. I think I gave myself the best opportunity. I was in a pretty good headspace after coming back home straight from Tahiti, going to Cape Town, surfing there and then going to Namibia with you guys and getting amazing waves there and then quickly jumping on a plane to get to Trestles to complete the very next day. It didn’t give me much time to think or worry about the contest. Sometimes you can overthink competing and the contest; preparation and everything like that, instead of just going with the natural feeling and what works and what you’re feeling at the time. So for me I flew straight in and didn’t have to think if I was riding the right board or surfing the right way. It was just bang, bang, bang – right into it. So ya, I think for me that kind of worked.


Jordy at home in the sea.

ZZ: You said in J-Bay earlier this year that that has been your approach to this year; not putting too much pressure on yourself and not get too wrapped up in what is going down at the contest site, only going down to get your vest and being in a good, mellow headspace…

JS: Absolutely. Not to worry about everything that’s going on, just focusing on what you enjoy doing. I think if I can do that, or if people in general do that, that’s when you see success.

ZZ: In the event, Filipe Toledo was going berserk and wowing everyone with his aerial game – ousting the great Kelly Slater in their quarter final match. But your approach was different, showing off a much more dynamic, flowing style of surfing. Tell us about it, and surfing against Toledo in your semi-final battle?

JS: For a guy like Filipe it was pretty picture perfect. I mean he weighs like 68kg and I’m 92kg, so in those smaller conditions he’s an absolute freak in the aerial surfing. I knew it was going to be a tough heat but I just stuck to my plan and what I knew. I wasn’t going to try and match him with airs in two-foot waves. Maybe if it was six-foot, but not in the small stuff. I just stuck to my strength which is the power game. It’s really good to see that the judges don’t just throw everything out and that they hold the scale back. Obviously the air he did in my heat was phenomenal – an amazing air, for one turn and that air he got an 8.33, so they definitely love seeing progressive surfing. I just had to wait for the good ones and out-power him and ya, that worked.


Sunrise moment in Jeffrey’s Bay.

ZZ: What was it like to surf against Joel Parkinson who is such a similar styled and flowing surfer?

JS: Ah man, surfing against Joel! Growing up he was probably the biggest influence in my surfing career. He got me at Lowers a couple years back in 2010/11 when I really felt like I was surfing out of my skin and at the time the judges gave it to him. I really thought I had won that heat so I used that memory and feeling as motivation. We’ve had a few other match-ups over my career and everyone has been good so I knew either way it was going to be a great heat. I have a lot of respect for him so I was more thankful to have an opportunity to surf against him, especially in a final. We’re both really suited to surfing a wave like Lowers, so it was really a good case of matching apples with apples.

ZZ: Correct me if I’m wrong, but is that board you surfed all competition the same old stick you pulled out of your dads garage in Durban for Ballito and J-Bay?

JS: [Laughs] no it’s a new, different one. I went with the same spray job though. It’s actually an old board that sits around my house here in California and any time I head down to the beach there at Lowers, I know I’m guaranteed to have a fun surf. So I didn’t need to order a bunch of boards before I arrived after Namibia and think about which board might work etc. I just grabbed the old faithful and went. You build relationships with certain surfboards, and know their tendencies, strengths and weaknesses. And this board from the get-go just wanted to go and felt so zippy. Throughout the event it just seemed to go better and better. Everyone seems to be loving the spray-job so I reckon I got to keep running with it a bit longer!


Jordy takes a chunk out of yet another Supertubes pearler.

ZZ: You’ve won J-Bay, you’ve won Rio and now you’ve won Lower Trestles, all quite different waves. How are you feeling about the European beach break leg?

JS: Europe is fun. It’s a great leg. I froth out. In 2014 I got a third in France and a second in Portugal so I just wanted to better my results. Go there and surf as well as I can.

ZZ: Tell us about Namibia quickly? It seemed to have settled and focused you. How was your trip?

JS: Ah bru that wave is so amazing and so incredible! One of the most difficult things about it though is documenting it. It almost doesn’t want to be captured, with how long the point is and the elements. It almost feels like it’s more of a morale trip and more of a bro-down trip with your friends, just smile and high fives on the beach. That’s what I really loved about it. Sometimes you don’t have to document every moment of the trips you go on and things like that. I think this was the first of many to come.


Jordy in awe of the diamond in the desert.

ZZ: Thanks a lot Jordy. All the very best for France and Portugal.

JS: Shot bru.

*All Images © Alan Van Gysen

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