Interview: JJF HAS HIS STOKE BACK! June 6, Tavarua.
SIF: Brilliant tube riding in that heat, earning you an amazing 19.8 heat score. Congratulations! Did experience at Restaurants play a role in scoring so high in that heat?
JJF: I don’t know, last year was my first time here. Restaurants is a perfect wave. It’s as perfect wave as it gets but it’s still tricky. It has its weird spots in it. I guess it’s just best to know those little spots. It really just started turning on out there and that’s how I got the scores.
SIF: When you went out it was looking kind of choppy and disorganized from the shore. But you made the waves look beautiful. Did you know going out there that you were going to score so big?
JJF: No, not at all! When I went out it was chunky and out-of-control looking. I was kind of thinking that, God, I might just only do turns out here. Because it didn’t seem like it was barreling and then it turned on just like that.
SIF: Tell us how surfing in Fiji is different from surfing in Hawaii.
JJF: It’s pretty similar in terms of the power of the wave, and that its warm and you can wear trunks and stuff. It’s different because we don’t have waves like this at home. There is no wave in Hawaii like this that is barreling for 300 yards the entire way, and it’s pretty sick to surf cause all our waves our pretty short and to be able to get as long a barrel as you can out here. It’s pretty amazing.
SIF: There are some that say they like Pipe better, others that claim Cloudbreak is a better wave. Between Restaurants, Cloudbreak and Pipe, what’s your favorite wave?
JJF: You can’t really compare Restaurants and Pipe. Pipe is a just a giant slab and with Restaurants you’ll get ten second barrel but never as big as pipe you know? And then Cloudbreak is a little more comparable to Pipe because it’s more unpredictable like Pipe is but it has huge barrels too.
SIF: Cloudbreak or Restaurants?
JJF: I don’t know Restaurants at its best is pretty fun. But then again you can’t really beat Cloudbreak last year when it was 20 foot and all-time. There really isn’t any wave in the world like that.
SIF: You are back on your feet literally after your injury. How is it feeling?
JJF: It feels great and I am so happy to be back in the water again. That whole break was kind of good to get psyched on surfing again. Surfing sometimes gets repetitive after a while so I am just stoked to get back in the water.
SIF: It’s not an air game out there at Restaurants obviously. Is it working in your favor that you don’t need to launch airs out there to catch scores?
JJF: No, honestly there is no pain left. I keep the brace on only to keep it secured. It’s a fresh injury. I’m not scared to do an air but I love getting barreled more than anything in the world.
SIF: You like getting barreled than pulling a big air?
JJF: Yeah a lot more, then again, not a lot more. Pulling a big air is always a crazy feeling but when you get a huge barrel like here at Restaurants, there is nothing that beats that.
Chairman of the Fiji Surf Association on the Volcom Fiji Pro 2013
SiF: Many in the pro surfing world labeled the Volcom Fiji Pro 2012 and the accompanying free surf in 20+ swell, as “historic.” Clearly, the Volcom cemented Fiji’s place as a top-tier event on the WCT. Now with the Volcom 2013 just days away, what are your hopes for this event?
John Philp: I want what everyone here wants: that Fiji turns it on with great surf and great hospitality!
SiF: How has the Volcom contest impacted Fiji’s surf scene? What effect, if any, has it had on Fiji more widely?
John Philp: Well, surfing is now seen much more often in the mainstream media here. That can only be good for growing the sport in Fiji. More attention, more support will lead to more engagement with Fiji’s youth.
SiF: Tell us a little bit about how the FSA is strengthening surfing in Fiji.
John Philp: We’ve developed our own Level 1 coaching program, and we’re activating again this year a series of Intro to Surf days for kids who have never tried surfing before. Our challenge is in recruiting parents to assist with this program, and also parents to help run contests. Because we’re a first generation sport in Fiji it's difficult as you can imagine. We don’t have the numbers.
SiF: What is your vision for the future of surfing in Fiji? What needs to happen to get you there?
John Philp: We need to develop surf access for everyone, not just the fortunate few that can afford a boat, or those that work at the surf resorts.
SiF: Jordy, the Hobgoods, Kelly, & JJF stand out as the favorites to win the competition. Who do you think is going to win this year?
John Philp: Too hard to call it. I would love to see an Islander win it, if not Aca than Michel Bourez the Tahitian!