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Jeremy Flores’ Heart Lives On His Sleeve

Getting candid with the CT’s youngest real veteran. 

news // Nov 3, 2017
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Jeremy Flores qualified for the CT in 2006. He was 17 at the time. A child. The youngest to make the cut since Occy.

Fast forward a decade and he’s now enjoying his 11th year on the CT. A lot of things have happened in the meantime. Jeremy’s won two of the best events in surfing (2010 Pipe Masters and 2015 Billabong Pro Tahiti). He’s stormed the judging tower. He’s had his name in all sorts of headlines. Some good. Some bad. Some true. Some false.

I sat down with him to talk about all that and learned he ain’t afraid to speak his mind.

insert JF 01

Mr Flores comes from Reunion with love.

Stab: What was it like qualifying so young?
Jeremy: I didn’t expect to be on Tour that early. I had a lot of fun on the QS — making all the trips worth it, you know — then all of the sudden I was on tour. I was 17 for my first few events and there were all these legends around. I was on Tour with guys like Occy and Andy and trust me, it was insane. A lot of people didn’t know what to expect from me then, so they talked shit. I ended up 8th in the world that year and felt like that was a good response. But most of all, I had a lot of fun during that time. I got to surf heats in perfect waves with my idols.

How much has the culture of the Tour changed since you first got on?
It’s changed a lot. And it’s mostly gotten better, but I miss the core vibe from back in the day. There are some things from that era that we won’t ever see again. People are really careful with their image now because if you say the wrong thing, you’ll get cut. But back then, there was more character and people weren’t afraid to say whatever they felt. There’s still a lot of emotion today, but people hide it. The last time I showed emotion, I got fined.

You talking about J-Bay?
Yeah. I lost it during that event. There were a lot of things happening in my personal life at that time and the whole year, I felt like I wasn’t getting the scores I was hoping for. When you work so hard to get to a certain point and think you deserve something, you get fuming if you don’t get it. It’s hard for me to hold that back. The fine was whatever, but I paid the price by missing one of the best events ever due to suspension — Tahiti was 8-foot and perfect that year.

Is there any satisfaction in knowing that you wore your heart on your sleeve?
Looking back at that incident, I think I went too far but that’s who I am. If I didn’t have that passion, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I feel like I’ve always had to step up or else I’d get pushed over. If I was this perfect little human, I wouldn’t have made it this far.

What’s it take to win an event?
Surfing is unique because you have to be connected with the ocean. You can lose to someone you’re way better than or vice versa depending on how connected you are at the time. When I think about Pipe, it’s all a blur. I don’t remember any of the details of how I won. I definitely remember the details of the afterparty though [laughs].

Same thing when I won Tahiti. It was one of those days that you’re so in tune. You’re connected to the moment and not questioning anything or feeling any pressure. It all feels so natural, but it ends up being blurry.

How much has the surfing on Tour changed in the last decade?
It’s changed a lot with airs and all that, but it’s hard for me to say that it’s improved a crazy amount. Some of the surfing I’ve seen guys like Kelly and Andy do is still unmatched. They’d do the biggest turns on the biggest waves with so much drive. I think the best surfer is the one with the most drive. It’s the most basic thing in surfing, but it’s the hardest. Think about Andy. He wasn’t the best air guy, but the lines he drew and the way he’d approach the critical parts of the wave with so much speed — that’s what blows my mind

I’d love to see some of the younger guys try more of that. I have no doubt they can do it. But the thing is, most people would rather watch a huge air on a three-foot wave than a big turn on a big wave, even though it’s harder to do the turn.

Insert JF 02

Goodbye Jérémie.

Has it been hard to stay passionate on tour?
I have the best job in the world. There’s no doubt about that. And I’ve never lost my passion for surfing, but there have been times when I’ve lost my passion for competing. I’ve been doing contests non-stop since I was 14 and you can get a weird vibe from being in that mindset all the time. Whenever I’ve gotten to a point where I’m not enjoying surfing as much as normal, it’s due to competing. So now I’m just focused on enjoying surfing and the lifestyle. It’s getting harder and harder to find perfect waves with nobody out, but the Tour gives me that opportunity almost every heat.

What’s next?
Honestly, I don’t feel like I have anything to prove but I’m still into competing. To this day, nothing feels as good as beating one of the world’s best surfers in firing waves. It feels good to win in shitty waves too, just not quite as good [laughs].

Whenever I’m done with competing, I’d like to work on some projects with friends and maybe try some different boards. I’m an island guy and I don’t need much to be happy. In the long run, I’ll probably end up somewhere simple, away from all the bullshit, fishing and surfing as much as I can.

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