Where are you at the moment?
I am up on the Gold Coast. The World Juniors are on at Burleigh Heads so I have been commentating on that. 

Do you surf much yourself these days?
I try to get out every day as long as it’s good, and it’s pretty consistent up here. I love going for my little early surf. It gets light around 4.30am, so I wake up at 4am and beat the crowds.

Name your top five Aussie surf spots?
I love going down to Bells Beach (Victoria). It’s a great little roadtrip. They have kept it a national surfing reserve, which is great. That is probably my favourite spot. Then there is Western Australia’s Margaret River. I love it over there. The surf is big like you get down at Bells. The wave suits me there. Another spot I like would be Gnaraloo, in northern WA, two hours from Canarvon. You have to take all your own supplies out there. It’s a real rugged, beautiful place, really pristine and the wave is a really good left-hander that gets good in the winter.

That’s three…
Um, now I am running out. The Gold Coast is one and probably the south-west of Sydney, around Jervis Bay and Ulladulla.

What tips would you give a beginner?
My wife is actually learning to surf at the moment. You gotta get as big a board as you can carry down the beach. Don’t be afraid to get a 10ft board. It makes it easier. Then just try and pick the right wave. Where we live, on the Gold Coast, is perfect for learning, when it’s small and really long. Floaty waves that run for a long time so you get time to stand up. You have to pick a broken wave and take off in the whitewash. Third tip is lots of sunscreen.

Is the whole rivalry between body boarders and surfers a real thing?
I’m not sure if it’s a rivalry, but they do clash a little bit. Just because the body boarders can get into the wave a lot earlier, they do like to keep the wave and sometimes the good surfers like to surf the same kind of wave. They can clash here and there for sure, but not with me.

What inspired your comeback?
I just really missed it. When I took my time off, I put on a lot of weight and I didn’t surf a whole lot at all. I felt like I was wasting my talent, I really fell in love with surfing at a young age and when you don’t surf you find yourself moping around and getting depressed and a bit angry. I just went back to fall in love with surfing again.

Have you retired from pro surfing now?
Pretty much. I’ve made about three comebacks in my career. All it takes is for me to go in one event and they say I’m making a comeback. I am doing that this year, I am competing in the Australian Open of Surfing and there is one at Margaret River, which I usually go to every year. I just do two or three events a year, just to get that feel for it again. I haven’t formally retired, if you call retired not surfing in any events. There is a specialty event in the south-west of Spain that I’m on hold for. They are waiting for a swell and there is only about 12 of us invited and when they get a big swell we’ll all fly over for it. 

You are known for the ‘Goofy’ stance. What is that?
It just means you stand with your right foot forward. There were more natural surfers than Goofy, so maybe that’s why they called us Goofy. We are usually outnumbered.

Dancing With The Stars. Why do that? 
I can’t say I regret it, but it was terrifying. All my mates wanted me to do it and now I realise they just wanted to get a good laugh at me and see me squirm on TV. Dancing had actually asked me for a couple of years and I finally succumbed. I definitely felt like a fish out of water. I thought I would get used to it after a couple of rounds, but I never got over the nerves.

Would you do another reality show?
I don’t think I would do, unless something that interested me came up, maybe like Survivor orI’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! I’m pretty open to everything.

If you weren’t a surfer, you’d be…
Maybe a gameshow host. That is something I really wanted to do.

No, not really.

See Occy, together with top skaters, bands and plenty more surfers, at the Australian Open of Surfing, on Manly Beach (Feb 11-19). australianopensurfing.com

February 6th, 2012