Wildcard Options, Invasive Production Crews, And Learning How To Calm The Fuck Down
Photo by Poullenot/WSL

Wildcard Options, Invasive Production Crews, And Learning How To Calm The Fuck Down

An interview with The Ultimate Surfer, Zeke Lau.

Words by Jack Mutschler

We all knew Zeke Lau was going to win the Ultimate Surfer.

Whether it was a guess based on the alignment of the stars, a theory derived from him being the only male contestant with a legitimate CT resume, or an inside tip from a friend in the surf industry, it was obvious who was getting those three wildcards for the 2022 CT.

Oh, and don’t forget that $100k grand prize. Even after taxes, that’s enough green to justify a few episodes of reality television.

Our in-house ‘Ultimate Surf Fan’ covered each episode of the show in excruciating detail, but that guy (whoever he is, wink wink) is a bit of a nutcase and should seek some form of counseling.

Acting more professionally these past few days, I gave Zeke Lau a call and asked him some questions about the show. 

Read below:

Congrats on winning the Ultimate Surfer, how does it feel?

It feels good. It’s a little weird since it happened a year ago, and it’s coming to life now. I signed a pretty gnarly non-disclosure agreement before I left the Ranch, so I’ve had to keep my mouth up until the last episode aired.

How was your time at the ranch?

Waking up every day to 110-degree heat was gnarly. We weren’t surfing the pool as much as you’d think either; we filmed other shots the majority of the time. Luckily, I’ve been to the ranch twice before, so I had a little bit of a competitive edge on everyone.

What was the set like?

It was a huge production crew. I was tripped out for the first few days. There was a lot going on and I felt like someone was always watching me. There are cameras in your room and boom mics hovering everywhere. It took some time for me to adjust.

Have they told you what events you’ll get wildcards for?

I talked a little bit to Jessi Miley-Dyer about what events I wanted to be in, but we’re still figuring it out. I asked for Bells, which she said might be hard to get, so we’ll see. I know for sure I’ll be at Sunset.

I just want to be in the first five events so I can requalify before the half year cut.

If you could only keep one prize between the $100k and the three wildcards, which would you pick?

That’s a hard one, but I’d go with the three wildcards. They’re worth a little more to me than the cash. Plus, if I do what I think I’m going to do with the opportunity, I’ll be making a lot more of it.

Were you nervous about losing during that last surf off?

Koa definitely picked up on the wave quickly and was doing some out-of-body surfing during that last episode. I was like, “I think I could lose right here,” after his wave. They had us wait three hours for the final results, so I was just sitting in the trailer losing my mind. 

What have you learned since you fell of tour that you think will help the re-qualification precess?

I’ve found a better competitive mindset for sure. When I was on tour, I was always just trying to get amped and be aggressive, but on the show, I realized I actually need to calm the fuck down sometimes [laughs].

There’s a balance between staying focused and not worrying about results too much. I think Gabby did a great job of that this year. He was always happy and cruising, but when it was time to put the jersey on he got the work done.

When I pull myself back mentally a little bit it really frees up my surfing.

For the show, we’d spend so much time doing interviews and shooting walking shots that went it came time to surf, I had to switch into competitive mode quickly. I think the ability switch myself off and on will help a lot on the CT.

Aside from those Instagram tough guys, have you received any back lash or teasing from doing the show?

I’d say 70% of the feedback has been positive and 30% negative. Obviously, there are those guys that are over it and think it’s selling out. Fuck, nothing is really “core surf” anymore. The game is changing, so you either keep up or get left behind.

I’ve surprisingly gotten a lot of support and positivity from it which has been pretty cool.


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