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Like a light switch

Josh Kerr’s spent the last five years alternating between being on and off the world tour. In his first-ever WCT event, Josh surfed one of the most hyped heats of the contest against Mick Fanning, pulling a frontside grab-rail reverse that Kelly Slater described at the time as one of the best manoeuvres he’d ever seen […]

news // Feb 22, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Josh Kerr’s spent the last five years alternating between being on and off the world tour. In his first-ever WCT event, Josh surfed one of the most hyped heats of the contest against Mick Fanning, pulling a frontside grab-rail reverse that Kelly Slater described at the time as one of the best manoeuvres he’d ever seen done on tour. It’s this kinda surfing that Kerzy is known for, and is the kinda surfing that belongs on tour.

To cap off an incredible year on the ‘QS, in which he won the Margaret River Drug Aware Pro and the O’Neill Cold Water Classic in Tofino, Canada, Josh found out yesterday that he qualified for next year’s Dream Tour. When Stab called Josh to see how he was feeling, he was out front of his home in Carlsbad, California, playing around with his daughter Sierra on a skateboard.

Stab: How’re you feeling after the big news? 
Josh Kerr: I’m stoked, for sure. I found out yesterday. I actually saw Julian (Wilson)’s Twitter saying he qualified, and he was behind me on the ratings, so… that meant I must’ve (qualified) too (laughs).

Hopefully you and Jules will bring the heat. Yeah, hopefully. We just need the waves to come to the party. I seem to be bad luck for the waves on tour.

Margarets, Canada, an Innersection part , re-qualification to the world tour… it’s been a big year for Josh Kerr.
Yeah it’s been a massive year, for sure. Starting to win comps has been the highlight though. I hadn’t really won anything before this year, it’s a great feeling. Now I know why people like winning so much.

What’s your prep strategy for next year? Preparation-wise, I’m just going to do what I’ve done this year. It’s just going out there, being confident in your surfing, knowing that you’re a good surfer and… just getting two good waves and surfing them well (laughs). As far as training goes, I think I’ll start trying to be a bit more fit for sure. I’m going to be training with (Professional tennis player) Mark Philippoussis.

The Poo! Yeah, the Poo! He wants to get back on (the world tennis) tour. He actually froths harder on surfing than I do. But yeah, it might be good to be a bit fitter when I start the tour.

Especially with the new format, that could have you surfing up to five heats in a day. Yeah! The new format looks pretty fun. Once you get through those first few heats, the comp sort of restarts with the repercharge round.

And it encourages you to go for broke a bit more. Yeah, exactly. You can find new confidence in that repercharge round. I like those ones where there’s nothing riding on it, y’know? You can kinda let loose a bit more. Which can also give you a bit of momentum going into the final heats.

So tell me about Canada.
 Cold! Good waves, but the water up there’s like… yeah, real cold. Things kinda just came together for me in that comp. Pretty sure I just had good heats the whole contest and just kept squeaking through, y’know? One of those contests when things just kinda go your way. Doesn’t happen very often though.

Did the win at Margaret River help your year, confidence-wise? 100 per cent. Getting that win off you back is a huge thing for your confidence. Y’can’t go into every event going, “Ok, I’m here to win this thing, and I know I can.” You need to go into a heat thinking, “Ok, I want to win this heat and worry about the rest later.”

How’d you feel about the mid-year injury wildcards? They told us at the end of last year that if it was gonna come down to one spot, it’d come down to the ratings between me and Gabe (Kling). Once I heard Kieren (Perrow) was going for that one, I knew I wouldn’t get on because I just didn’t do enough comps up until that point. If I’d entered one more contest, it would’ve been me. But y’know, blessing in disguise. I got on tour in the end, had a good year, got to travel a bit, finish up my movie and all that kind of thing.

How’d you split up clips between your movie and your Innersection? Definitely held back a lot of stuff for theInnersection. I knew it was going to be really political. I didn’t want to give away my best stuff and then… it’s really political, who wins that 100 grand and who buys it. I just didn’t wanna waste too many sick clips on that.

Tell me about the politics of it. Well Australians don’t even buy DVD’s anymore, so not many Aussies are going to vote for me, y’know? People will just vote for the guys from their countries. Brazilians will vote for Brazilians, Americans will vote for Americans, and so on. So there’s no point using my best clips when no Aussies will vote for me.

How do your confidence levels going into next year compare to previous years? I don’t wanna go into the season feeling comfortable at all. I’ve been on and off (the tour), I know what it’s like, so I just want to go in prepared for the worst. Being in the second round every time. I know there’s no easy heats on the world tour.

Your tour career’s been like a light switch. Yeah, I’ve been on and off. I was on in ’07, off in ’08, on in ’09, off in 2010 and now I’m on in 2011 (laughs). Last year I was well inside the bubble, then I injured myself. I missed one contest then actually tried to surf two contests with an undiagnosed broken ankle, which I thought was just sprained. I was kinda going good before my injury. That was a bummer.

For someone who’s bounced around both formats so much, what’s the biggest difference between QS and WT events to you? The most noticeable difference isn’t really about the heat. It’s like, you could surf a heat in a CT, then not surf a heat for like, a week. But you know who you’re up against that whole week. It’s a lot to handle mentally, for sure. In the QS you know you’re going to rock up the next day, you know you’re gonna surf at 10.30. When you’ve got too much time to prepare, it becomes groundhog day.

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