Interview with surfer Jeremy Flores
Jeremy Flores (FRA), 20, will be surfing for his third year on the ASP World tour in 2009 and seems to be more relaxed than ever. He talked with us about the world tour, superstar Kelly Slater and a lot of other things.
1. A few words about the final event in 2008, the Billabong Pipeline Masters?
Things did not go as I wanted but the waves were better than in 2007 and it was good to see some good surf. Just as in Fiji, Tahiti and Bali, the three other lefthand barrels of the tour last year, I was not able to do any better at Pipeline. I faced Jamie O’Brien (HAW), one of the best if not the best surfer at Pipe, and it was not the right time of the day with the weather going wrong and the waves just slowding down. The good thing is that the rest of the guys behind me did not do well so I managed to end the year No. 10 in the world and I am happy with that.
2. What does the North Shore of Oahu represent for someone like you coming from the other side of the world?
I think there is something special there. Talking about competition, all the best guys of the sport have won there before and you really want to proove yourself you can do well in these waves. To get a big result at one of the three events of the Triple Crown is something precious and only a few guys have won these events in the past. It definitely means a lot to do well in Hawaii but it also depends on your own feeling with the place. It is a crucial stop in the year but it is still one stop only and there plenty of other places you want to score.
3. You've been in the ASP World Tour Top 10 for two years in a row now. What does that mean to you ? How did you enjoy the tour in 2008?
I think it’s been a good year for me overall. I learnt a lot during this second year on tour and I feel like my surfing has improved a lot compared to 2007. I had a better rating for my first year but I’ve had better results last year including my first final in Brazil and two Semifinals in Trestles and on the Gold Coast. Eventhough I did not improve my rating, the performances were bigger in 2008 and I had a great time. On the other hand I had average runs in the Pacific leg in Fiji and Tahiti, lacked a bit of luck at these events but I still felt good on my board while freesurfing and I was confident I could take my level higher. And that is what counts most for me, to feel you can do better and keep the confidence.
4. What about the general level in 2008?
I thought it was a very competitive year. All the Top 10 surfers from the year before were back in good form and everyone was really firing. And with the new guys joining the tour like Dane and Jordy but also Tiago (Pires) or some of the Brazilian surfers, the level was really unbelievable at all events. I cannot remember one easy heat at any event. All the guys were ripping hard and everyone wanted to get his result right. So I enjoyed a lot being part of the show and being a witness of all this action. It was a great year for pro surfing.
5. Any words about the ASP World Champion Kelly Slater?
Kelly lost no time and opened with two wins in a row in Australia last year. I think he showed one more time he was definitely the king of surfing and it was unbelievable to see him be that good after all these years on tour. Physically as well as mentally, he was far ahead of the rest of us and deserves his 9th world title more than anyone, there’s nothing else to say.
6. Let's talk about the rest of the European crew now. What's your view on this unforgettable year for European surfing?
It’s been a great year and all the guys did well. I think we were a threat to any surfer and there was a good game plan that worked out well. Tiago (Pires) surfed some of the best heats of the year, defeated Kelly in Bali, showed impressive levels of surfing against Parko and Taj (Burrow) and I am stoked he managed to requalify through the WQS. Miky (Picon) prooved he deserved his ASP World Tour spot by finishing No. 21 and not doing any ASP World Qulaifying Series (WQS) event as a back up. He comitted to the tour 100% and remained focused until the end showing how tough he was despite some hard moments. He got some good results in Tahiti, Mundaka and Brazil of course where we met in the Semifinals. As for Aritz (Aranburu), he missed half of the year because of injuries so he was not able to show his surfing but he still managed to give promissing signs and got 9th at Pipeline so it is really cool to have him back in 2009.
7. What's happening for the new year? What do you expect from 2009?
I am retiring... (Laughs). No just kidding, I am going to be on tour for sure, for this third year among the world’s best surfers but I don’t really have anything set for 2009, competition wise. I am going to take time to go on surf trips in Tahiti and in the Mentawaiis as well as spend more time at home in New Caledonia. I want to surf more and more good and perfect waves and just slow down on all the contest part. I have been competing around the world for so long I feel like I need to take a bit of time to enjoy life more and do other things than surfing. There are so many things I want to see around the world apart from surfing events so I want to make it happen this year, while I am feeling good on the World Tour. And the day I will feel ready to aim at a world title or even just the Top 5, I will go for it.
8. Your best memory in 2008? The worst?
Brazil was so good. We had such a great time all together, getting through rounds, winning tough heats, and eventually meeting with Miky (Picon) in the Semis. It was the best time ever, we had fun out there, talking, surfing and just enjoying our time. We were just trying to remember a few years behind us when we were dreaming of facing one another in the seimfinals of an ASP World Tour event. I never thought that event in Brazil was going to be so good. I went there mostly to support Miky who needed a big performance and we trained hard to make it happen. That event gave us great confidence and I am sure it will help this year. The worst times came in the Pacific leg where I had my first 33rd ever and there was kind of a whole negative atmosphere around me for two events. I was not confident and just out of rhythm. I felt like everything was going the wrong way, my heats were always at the worst moment of the tide, I broke many of my favorite boards. It took time to leave this behind but in the end I learnt from it as well.
9. What else?
European surfing is going well and I am having fun being on tour. We had a great team in 2008, worked hard but all enjoyed our time. We managed to find the balance between training and fun and we are ready for the first event in Australia. Yannick, Miky, Ze, Ricardo, Patrick (Beven), and my girlfriend who is also qualified for this year’s ASP Women’s World Tour... All these people are like a second family to me. My mum and dad and sister always there to help as well. And of course the great support in France from the public that counts a lot. I’ll finish with Quiksilver who keep supporting me so much, and it’s been like that for eleven years, I can’t thank them enough.
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