By the end of the 2012 World Tour season, Jordy Smith was sitting rather uncomfortably at the 12th spot in the rankings. He could have done worse, sure, but with his unique blend of powerful carves and tech airs, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be in the title race every year. But after a few electric performances and a win in Brazil, Jordy is back in that conversation heading into the Hurley Pro. Before Jordy hits the cobblestones at Lowers, I caught up with him to find out how he found his form again.
Last time we spoke was last fall in Santa Cruz, and you weren’t having the best year but you were already very confident that you’d be back in the hunt this year. How did you turn that corner?
At that point, last year was already blown for me. I was having an off year and just didn’t really have my head in it, so I just really wanted the year to be over so I could get it together and start fresh. I had a few heats last year that felt really good. At Trestles I felt really good against Parko, and I thought that might have been a turning point for me, but it wasn’t. I went to Hawaii and didn’t have a great winter, and then I injured my heel. I felt like I needed something to snap me out of it, so I went on a surf trip to Mozambique with my fiancé, Lyndall, and my buddy, Chad Du Toit. Lyndall was actually the one who suggested we take a trip to that wave, because she’s been there camping with her family a few times. I was like, “Yeah, sure,” thinking it was probably just a fun little right-hander or something. Sure enough, we got there and saw the waves and I was just like, “Ho…ly…shit.” It was just firing and I was kind of gobsmacked. I was freaking out and couldn’t get the boards off the car fast enough. I probably scored some of the best waves of my life, and I can’t wait to show people some of the footage on Friday at the Now Now premiere. I think that’s the thing that really helped me turn the corner. It was exactly what I needed to feel regrouped and ready to achieve my goals.
What is Now Now all about?
So we weren’t really planning on doing a movie, but we had all this footage. We were just kind of going through it one day and I was like, “Oh my God, we have a lot here, and no one has seen any of it.” So we decided to edit it into a short movie—just like 15 minutes or so made from everything I’ve been doing for the last six months. We’re calling it Now Now, just because that’s literally how we put it together—just quick and to the point, you know? We didn’t put too much thought into it, I just found some music as quick as I could and got my editor Jacob Wooden to put it together. We’re thinking we might as well put the footage out there. If the people like it, great. If not, oh well.
So lets talk about the Tour. You started the year with a 13th, but then you got a third at Bells and won Brazil. Did that feel like confirmation for you; like you knew you were back on track?
Yeah. I didn’t get the result I wanted at Snapper, but I felt like my surfing was up to par and I was feeling really good. At Bells I really relaxed and just tried to enjoy myself, and I think that helped things fall into place. I felt like I probably should have won that contest, but Adriano [de Souza] got a good wave in our semifinal and I fell on one, and sometimes that’s how it goes. But you know, I definitely felt like I was out of the rut, which gave me a lot of confidence going into Brazil. To be honest, I kind of knew I was going to win Brazil from the beginning. I don’t know why, but that was what was going through my head that whole week. They always tell you, “it’s all in your head,” and I was just feeling good and confident and really enjoying every minute of it.
I thought it was a little ironic that your best event, J-Bay, gets cut from the schedule, and then you go and win in Brazil—a wave that couldn’t be more opposite.
[Laughs] Yeah, I think a lot of people take me for this power surfer that prefers open-faced waves, but I love doing airs and tech stuff in small waves too. I like my surfing to be kind of a mix of everything, but I guess just because of my big frame people assume I need bigger waves.
You’ve had some big life changes recently, namely getting engaged. Do you think having that kind of stability in your personal life pays dividends in your professional life?
For sure, that’s been my biggest positive for me recently. There’s so much craziness that goes on in and around my life that just comes with the territory of traveling and doing the Tour; she keeps me grounded and sane. It’s such a hectic lifestyle, you need that stability and you need that balance to keep your head straight and stay focused on what you want to do.
The Hurley pro is a few days away, and you’ve made it to the quarters out there before, but it seems like that wave would cater to your surfing more than the results would suggest. Why do you think you haven’t had a stellar result there yet?
I don’t know. That year that I made the quarters, I ended up breaking my board in that heat. And last year I felt like it should have gone my way against Joel, but it didn’t. I think my surfing has actually been on point there in the past, but I’ve just had a few hiccups here and there. For the most part, it probably just comes down to wave selection. Generally, when I get further into the event, I start choosing worse waves when it should be the other way around. It’s kind of weird, but I get really excited—probably too excited. In those situations I just want to ride a wave and I want to impress. Sometimes that enthusiasm goes against you if you aren’t thinking clearly about what you need to do.
A lot of competitors talk about how important it is in a world title campaign to kind of start a roll at Trestles and carry that momentum through Europe. Is that something you’re actively thinking about, or do you try to avoid getting ahead of yourself?
I’m definitely thinking about that. The other guys have quite a big lead, but I really like where I am at the moment because the spotlight isn’t really on me. It’s like the top three are what everyone is focusing on and I’m kind of sitting in their slipstream. I’m just waiting until they fumble and then I’m going to take over [laughs].
Look for Jordy’s new movie, Now Now, on iTunes September 13.