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A Rookie Needs A Full Year

Bede talks on the axing of the mid-year cut.

A Rookie Needs A Full Year, Bede talks on the axing of the mid-year cut.
 My latest sprays on my favorite boards! I'm psyched on the 
© Durbo

It's amazing what a bit of adversity can do.

Like motivating you for starters. Last year was a rough one for me on Tour. I was carrying a few injuries and getting used to a life that completely changed for me and my wife in having our baby while also building our new house. It was a lot to juggle while trying to compete on a global tour.

I had some setbacks in terms of my results but by the end of the year, I was steeled again. You know within yourself if you've still got something left and I know where I stand on that question. I haven't been this excited about a
season since the first year I qualified for the tour. My body is 100% fit and injury free, and I've settled into fatherhood.

So now I feel I can concentrate on achieving my goals. They are to get back into the top five and have a really good crack at the title. I'll be 29 this year, so I'm in my prime. I also have seven years of experience of being on the world tour under my belt. So I'm all geared up for a great year with my wife and little girl by my side.

Preparation is always critical and I reckon you can't beat surfing in good waves for that. So I feel fortunate to have had some quality waves in Hawaii pre-Christmas while on the North Shore for the season-closing Pipe Masters. Pipe was insane. We got the biggest waves in years and everyone was going for it like mad men. It was so awesome to see Kieren Perrow win, especially after last year when he had such a gut-wrenchingly close defeat in the final minutes. I thought at the time that he might never get that chance again. But he did and good on him. He was definitely one of the best surfers of the event, along with John John (Florence). Kieren is always a standout when the waves get heavy so it was great to see him get his win in chunky Pipe.

After coming back from Hawaii, we then scored an unbelievable swell on the Goldie (Gold Coast) over the festive season. Talk about the all-time present over Christmas! We got gifted a perfectly-positioned cyclone that produced some exceptional waves at Burleigh, The Alley and Kirra. The buzz around town was pretty cool during the swell.

Everyone was on holidays and scoring perfect waves. I got my share, having some really fun sessions out at Burleigh doing step-offs with 'Bottle'.

A Rookie Needs A Full Year, Bede talks on the axing of the mid-year cut.
Fiji. Back on the Calendar.
© fly-on-the-wall.

During my break I was also heavily involved in my Bede Durbidge Surf Camp held at the Surfing Australia High Performance Centre down at Casuarina. It was really cool to mix with and give back to the up-and-coming groms. It's funny but I can clearly remember when I was around 13 and attending the Mark Richards camp. I just got so much out of it. It was so cool being a grommet for the day too.  Those kids just have so much energy. It brought back a lot of memories of how fun it was being a kid and just living to surf every second of the day.

I worked with the groms, providing tips and watching their footage with them, giving them a Fox goodies bag, autographs etc. And, of course, I went surfing with them. That was the best part. In among scoring some good waves and re-living my grom days, I've been training really hard with Gary Elkerton and Wes who look after that side of my preparation. I feel fortunate that I've found a great balance with working with both of them and I've seen great results over the last month with my fitness and consequently with my surfing. Add in a lot of time in the shaping bay with my shaper Wayne McKewen tweaking my boards (I've made a few subtle changes which have resulted in the best boards I've ever had from Wayne) and I'm feeling pretty rounded in my preparation for the tour and the opening event here on the Goldie.

Reflecting a bit wider on the 2011 season, I think it's positive that the ASP has gone back to letting everyone have a full year on tour, dropping the mid-year rotation process. I feel that a rookie really needs a full year to get used to the different breaks on the tour and the new formats. I remember my first year on tour was so hard. I only just stayed on, and then the next year I had a really good season and got my first contest win. You see a lot of guys with a lot of talent but they need the whole 12 months to adapt to the world tour before they really start fulfilling their potential and hitting their stride.

I also support the drug-testing procedures being put in place. The bottom line on this one is that if we are going to call ourselves a professional sport, we need to act accordingly and get in line with every other major sport in the world.

From a contest perspective, it's a bummer New York is going but it's highly unlikely they will ever get waves as good as last year's event again there. If I had to choose, I'd far rather have Fiji back on the schedule anyway. Fiji has always been my favourite spot on the tour. The waves are mind blowing and you're just in paradise. All the boys are frothing to have it back on the schedule. Fiji is everyone's favourite comp. What I like about it that it really showcases everyone's ability to surf reef breaks because it's not just a barrel ... it's also a great canvas for big turns.

As the Quikkie draws nearer, I'm increasingly being asked whether 2012 will be a reasserting of the old guard.  That's an obvious reference to all the new faces in the top 32 and some of the standout performances from emerging stars like Gabriel Medina, along with the ones we've all been expecting such as Owen Wright. There's no doubting that the new talent on tour is lifting everyone's work ethic and performances. For that reason I think the usual suspects will do well.

But I still expect a lot of mixed results this year similar to the back half of last season where the waves suited the new generation's style of surfing. And of course you can't talk the tour without talking Kelly. He's definitely going to be back and surfing as good as ever in 2012. His performances last year were mind blowing. The fact he is proving that age doesn't matter is an inspiration to all of us.

That said, here's to a great year of surfing.

- Bede