Meet the only man to beat Filipe Toledo in a small bowl this year
Words by Jed Smith | Photos WSL Quitting was never on his mind but Hawaiian Pro winner and World Tour qualification bolter Wade Carmichael admits the three years he spent travelling and competing without a sponsor were “tough.” “I look back at it now and I did pretty well to get through it and keep […]
Words by Jed Smith | Photos WSL
Quitting was never on his mind but Hawaiian Pro winner and World Tour qualification bolter Wade Carmichael admits the three years he spent travelling and competing without a sponsor were “tough.”
“I look back at it now and I did pretty well to get through it and keep positive,” he recalls.
Despite winning the Australian Junior Series and a World Junior Series event – in which he surfed all the way from the trials – no one would touch him. Even with accolades like this, from 1988 World Champ and leading talent scout, Barton Lynch:
“He’s got the full-bodied rail game a la Dane Reynolds and an amazing composure where he’s able to pull out special tricks at crucial times.”
Instead, Wade was forced to work shifts as a lifeguard and pool his contest winnings to chase his dream.
“It’s pretty frustrating when you hear of guys making crazy amounts of money and I was struggling to get backing,” he says. “But it makes you appreciate the win I got (at Haleiwa) and making it through heats a lot more. It feels better for me inside.”
Growing up on the NSW central coast (an hour and a half north of Sydney), Wade fell under the tutelage of World Tour surfers Matt Wilkinson, Ace Buchan and Micro Hall as a teen. Even so, graduating to the Q10k series remained a shock. Contested in the the shadows of the surf media, the relentless travel, poor waves and bizarre mind games more than ensured the Q lived up to is moniker, ‘The Grind’.
“It’s pretty full-on, it’s pretty serious, everyone is there for the same reason but everyone goes about it different ways,” he says. “People try and get in your head and psyche you out, they try and get in your little zone, say a couple of things, there’s some gnarly paddle battles, but I just tend to stick to myself and get in my own little zone.”
Coming in to the Hawaiian Pro last week, Wade was positioned distantly on the ratings, having not had a result since a third place at the Lowers Q10k back in May. In a stacked final that included reigning Hawaiian Pro winner and World Tour surfer, Dusty Payne, Hawaiian firebrand Zeke Lau, and world number two Filipe Toledo, Wade sprung out of the gates dropping a nine for a series of flowing power jams, before backing it up with a six shortly after. In between, he was forced to watch as Filipe race down the line and “five feet into the air, doing the biggest rotator. I was like, Jesus, here we go.”
A 15-minute lull set in shortly after, before a flurry of waves on the buzzer left Wade standing on the shoreline unsure who’d won.
“I was on the beach and Donny (former World Tour surfer, Dion Atkinson) was cheering so I realised they hadn’t got the score. I didn’t know what to do, I was just throwing my arms around.”
The win is the biggest of his career, lifting him 40 places on the Q to 13th, and just 250 points outside the ratings cut-off of 19,300. A solid result at the Vans World Cup, Sunset Beach (likely to be held in the solid open ocean rights that Wade favours) will likely see him qualify.
“I’ve been dreaming about that for a very long time, I couldn’t even put into words how it would feel,” he says. “The amount of contests I’ve watched on there, I don’t even know what I’d do. I think I’d just be frothing out going to those destinations surfing those crazy waves with a couple of people out.”
Wade is currently sponsored by Piping Hot, LIIVe, JR surfboards, and C-Skins.
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