THE SMITHY SESSIONS
JUST BEFORE THIS ISSUE WENT TO PRINT WE GOT TO HANG WITH CURRENT WORLD NUMBER ONE IN THE WELSH HILLS. FOR TWO DAYS JORDY SESSIONED THE SURF SNOWDONIA POOL AND HUNG OUT WITH STOKED O'NEILL RETAILERS WHO HAD NO IDEA HE WAS GOING TO BE GUEST OF HONOUR. WE MA
Is this first time visiting Surf Snowdonia?
It's actually my second, I came here two years ago for the Red Bull event but I was injured so couldn't really surf. I paddled out on a soft top and caught a few little ones but this is my first time really surfing it and it's really fun.
Did you go to the test site in the Basque Country before this one opened?
I did when they first started, it was pretty small, and was difficult for me to ride. It was back when it was just a small left on the black tarp, like a pond. They've come a long way.
How about other pools, have you been to the Dubai one? No not been to one of those style pools, Dion's clip was incredible, and Julian's night clip from Tenerife was nuts. But the Ocean Dome in Japan looked like the funnest to surf until they shut it down. And now there's Kelly's one...
You were there for the test event, how was surfing Kelly's ranch?
It was incredible to surf it. It's still a bit small for me but apparently they can make it go bigger. And it's really wind dependant like here, so it'll be offshore one way and onshore the other so it was hard to get barrelled for me. The actual shape of the wave is really good.
Is it as mechanical as it looks? Every wave seems to be a carbon copy.
Exactly. You end up just counting ... 1,2,3, set up, tube, come out, two turns, air. That's kind of the run.
Do you think pool surfing will end up like a gymnastics routine?
It'll get to a point where they'll have to put trace technology in the boards. So you can scientifically tell who's pushing harder, who's going higher, who's getting deeper and that'll be the point of difference. Guys will obviously surf different but there'll be a certain run that works the best.
You think wave pools have a place in big league competition in the future? Maybe if it's one tenth or eleventh, so it contributes a small part of a world title chase. Next year there's an event in May but I'm not sure if it'll be a CT. The pools will only get better. This is just the beginning of wave pools really. Five years is a long time, in five years we could see an eight-foot slab. I think there's a definite future in it, I'm not too sure how much money they'll make out of it, but there's definitely a future.
That seems to be the contrast between Wavegarden and Kelly's pool: this is more accessible to the average Joe. Yeah, exactly, this is more user friendly for people to learn and to surf on a regular basis. Not
too many people are going to pay to paddle out on an eightfoot slab.
Moving on to the tour ... are you looking forward to the European leg with your yellow jersey?
I love France and Portugal, even though I've not had a decent result in France in a long time, but that doesn't mean anything. I really enjoy the space. You can get away and surf little banks on the down low and it's very different to most locations we go to. Fiji is similar to Tahiti, the whole of Australia blends into one, J-bay is obviously its own gig and then there's Brazil. These next two legs are very separate and there's a lot culture. A lot of stuff to do and sights to see. So much to do and get stoked on apart from just surfing.
The wife coming with? Definitely. She's my number one supporter and the person I care most about in the world and she's a mean cook. She doesn't come to every event, like not all of Oz or Brazil, so it's good when she is there.
How mental is Rio?
They are the most passionate people. They are just furious about surfing, they love it. They live, breathe, eat, sleep surfing. It's pretty cool actually.
How's the conversation going with changing the tour? Rumour is the Euro leg towns are nervous.
I've only been to one meeting so far but I think 2019 is the big change. There's a lot of talk between the WSL and the surfers. They're pretty go ahead about it. We've got another meeting coming up in France. I don't know what the changes are officially, there are rumours like starting in Hawaii, then Portugal then Oz, but I can't confirm anything. I'm of the mindset really that they'll just tell me where I need to be and I'll come surf and do my thing.
And finally I seem to be asking everyone this: what's your view on surfing being in the Olympics?
Errrrrrm. Yeah. I think it's an opportunity for surfing to be involved. Sure it's not the best location for it in Japan. That said we've got to start somewhere. I don't know if that spot is going to be ideal. A wave pool is probably going to give us a better opportunity. Having the world stage, wanting people to look at us and go 'surfing is pretty cool' if we're in the ocean and it's dead flat the audience will be all like 'this sucks!'
Any idea on how selection is going to work yet?
No. Everyone is trying to figure out the logistics. All the different organisations are fighting over who's going to run it and all that kind of stuff. Everyone has to have a fair shot. That's what the Olympics are about.