A Word With 2009 Hurley U.S. Open Champion Brett Simpson
Simpson Reflects on His Victory and Plans for Future
Brett Simpson took the Dream Tour concept and inputted it into the WQS. His own dream event, if you will. Simpson put on an insane performance during the swell of the summer in front of his hometown crowd. He hit the trifecta at the Hurley US Open by winning a wildcard spot into the Hurley Lowers Pro, winning the US Open 6-star worth $100K, and earning enough points to possibly qualify for the WCT in 2010.
Brett, after taxes you’re looking at about $65K, have you thought about that?
Yeah, I was going over it with my dad and we figured about the same, but not bad for a week’s worth of work. Everything seemed to fall into place that week. I was having fun with it, and my routine was the same everyday and I just felt really comfortable. It’s one of those things you think about when you are young. Sort of a dream. When I was on the podium it was like…out of this world.
What was it like before paddling out in the Final against Mick Fanning? Were you anxious? I’m sure Bob (Hurley), Paul Gomez, and Pat O’Connell were amping you up.
Well, yeah. Luckily I went up with this trainer to do some work on my ankle, which I had injured a few weeks before the even with some therapy. We were trying to get it loose and strong. Definitely a lot of guys were coming up to me and saying, ‘Good luck’. But I tried to stay in the same mindset. Just have fun, execute, and I peak at the right time.
So are you free and clear now? Have you made the WCT for next year or do you still have some work to do?
No, I still have some work to do. I’m sitting fifth right now with 11,800 points. But I think I have some work to do still. If I can better my lower score that would be good. That would be icing on the cake. It’s one of those things—you don’t want to get lazy. We still have Hawaii and some other 6-stars and guys can get points. I don’t want to lose the rhythm of surfing heats and I’m going to keep trying to better my results and hopefully snag another win.
Certainly a dream event for you. The stars were aligned. Winning the richest purse ever on your home turf. What goals are next for Brett Simpson?
It’s funny, Scott, because I was just thinking about that. What is next? This event was amazing. And to win against Mick [Fanning]. My main goal is still to get on Tour. This is very satisfying, but I have tons of work to go. And I am not settling on this.
What about a goal of Top 10 on the WCT next year?
Yeah, even the Top 16 range is good. Maybe Top 10 isn’t reasonable. I don’t want to get ahead. I did that in the past. For this event I relaxed and stayed in the moment. And hopefully I can carry that mindset with me throughout my career.
What about Kanga? I saw you each morning down at the pier with Ian Cairns, your coach. Tell us about the coach/surfer relationship.
He has been keeping me very confident. I feel like once I have strategy I’m very confident. I used to get a little scatter-brained in heats if things didn’t go my way early. I would get distracted. Now I know what I have to do. We were on a great routine each morning. We’d study the break, watch the swell change, and figure out a way to win. He’s really helped my confidence.
What about the PWCs? Did you have a favorite driver? It seemed like you hooked up with Pat (O’Connell) a lot.
Yeah, every heat it seemed like (laughs). We kept hooking up and every time he was so relaxed and would pump me up. It was really comfortable hanging with Pat on the way out to the lineup. He could hear the scores. He’s such a veteran competitor. He would tell me what he thought on the way out. It helped me stay relaxed. I felt like I was free-surfing just riding the ski back out. All the ski drivers were great. The skis were amazing. If we didn’t have the skis we would have been paddling a lot.
On a different note, what do you make of this breakaway tour that ESPN and Kelly Slater have been discussing?
I think it’s great if I’m on it! (laughter) I really don’t know what to think. I think the WCT is already really prestigious. So I don’t know yet.
Well the surfers on this ESPN tour will be making a minimum of $320K, according to the news reports, and that is if you lose every heat all year long! If they asked you to be on this new tour, would you say yes?
I definitely would have a good long look at it. I guess I’d have to see what the ASP says about it. If you are a member of the ASP and you go on this tour there would be a chance that the ASP wouldn’t want you around. The ASP’s been around for so long that…this new tour would need the correct backing. Really, I think it is an awesome idea. The money sounds great. But is it a long-term thing or just a short-term thing? If Kelly is calling me, and he is 100-percent behind me doing it, then yeah, I think, I mean it sounds too good to be true. I don’t event know. If it happens it’ll be cool. I don’t really know.
Brett, again, congrats, great win. Keep up the stellar performance.
Thanks, Scott. I’m stoked and thanks for the chance to chat.