Martin Potter Interview


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SJ: Why are you competing at the Boardmasters festival and not at the higher rated WQS event at the American Opean of Surfing @ Huntington Beach in America? What Makes Newquay special for you?
Pottz: The Boardmasters gave me the wildcard last year although unfortunately I was unable to hang around and surf in it due to my wife giving birth to twins. So I felt like I had to come back and that I had some unfinished business. But besides that, I’ve actually retired from surfing competitively, this is probably just a one-off thing; a chance to put back into the sport what the sport has given me. Newquay has been special to me over the years, I’ve won the event twice and been placed high quite a few times so I have good luck here. So I feel if there’s any event on the tour I can do well in then this is it.
SJ: You won the World Championship Tour in 1989 – how old were you when you won that?
Pottz: I was 25, so that was almost 12 years ago now. It seems like it was just around the corner, but in actual fact is was a long time ago. But it was a special moment, it was one of those things where you work really hard to achieve your goal, and then you finally achieve it, it doesn’t really sink in until a few years later you know.
SJ: Do you miss competitive surfing or do you feel more chilled out now that you’ve got a family.
Pottz: I don’t miss the competitive surfing at all actually, I was in the top echelon of pro surfing for 17 years so I fealt like I’ve done my dash. For me surfing means a whole lot of different things, not just competing. I didn’t have the time to do all the different things I wanted to do, so now I do surfing is taking on a whole different meaning. So I’m back to my roots, back to the soul side, back to just surfing with my mates, enjoying it without the competitive stress involved.
SJ: You live in France now I believe?
Pottz: Yeah, the South-West of France in a place called Anglet where the waves are absolutely beautiful pretty much all year round so I get to surf quite a bit and still work around the industry.
SJ: Do you get to travel much, and if so what are your favourite breaks around the world?
Pottz: I get to travel but more so on business. I’m working for GOTCHA sportswear doing the marketing for Europe so all my travelling is more trade-shows, promotions, advertising and stuff like that so very rarely do I go on surf trips any more. The odd occasion when I do, it’s more so for business and it’s more Europe-wide so France, Spain, Portugal, Germany and England.

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SJ: Where are you headed next and is it for GOTCHA?
Pottz: My next trip will be home back to France. The WQS events are there at the moment and when the tour hits town I’ll be there for a while. Then in September I go to California so the life still continues, the travelling still happens!
SJ: What sort of boards do you ride and who shapes them?
Pottz: At the moment I’m riding a little 6’0 wing swallow-tail that is basically designed off a Mark Richard twin-fin. A guy called Phil Grace shaped it for me so he works out of a factory in France. I’ve been getting boards from a lot of different guys; Mark Richards has made me a few, Peter Daniels makes me a few, and this guy called Phil Grace. So I like to have a mixed bag and experiment with a few things.
SJ: How do you view the way surfing is going mainstream … at least in Britain?
Pottz: It’s growing as a sports, the evetns are getting bigger, and there’s more money involved. It’s becoming a bit more professional, not that it wasn’t before but what I don’t like is that I find it’s loosing it’s characters.
SJ: Nokia seem to be pumping more money into the sport. They were here last year, and they’re back again this year. I think they’ve put quite a bit of money into the women s event as well.
Pottz: Yeah, it’s good to see a big company like that supporting women’s surfing. I think the women ave had a pretty tough deal all the way along. They’re getting better and better all the time, they’re surfing more radical waves, they’re abilities are growing I mean there’s girls doing tow-in surfing now and stuff like that. So they’re stepping up and it’s really good to see someone supporting them.

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SJ: Who do you yourself respect as a surfer? Who do you admire? Is it your friends or are there surfers on the world circuit that you look up to?
Pottz: Back when I was a kid I always used to look up to guys like Shaun Thompson, Mark Richards, Michael Hoe, and then Tom Carroll. At the moment there are still guys I look up to that still rip; I mean Tom Carroll is still surfing as good as he ever has. I love the way Tom Curren surfs, I really admire him. I guess the obvious choice is Kelly Slater, I mean he’s an unbelievable surfer. There’s a few younger guys coming up at the moment that I think the world should look out for such as Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning – those guys rip, as well as Andy Irons who I think has stepped up and is on his way to a second world title if Kelly cannot stop him – I think he’s the only one at the moment who can. But in a couple of years time I think Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning are going to be real dangers.
SJ: What do you make of Russell Winter? Do you think he looks up to you and do you think he has a good future?
Pottz: Yeah, I think Russ has got a great future. I mean he’s a really good surfer, he’s got all the moves, he’s got the power and he’s been in the top 44 before so he knows what it takes to get there. It’s just that with the tour these days is pretty hard to get the ball rolling as there’s so many good surfers out there. Russell has got one thing in his favour, and that is that he’s still young and if he wants it, it’s there, but he’s going to have to work hard for it like anything in life. He’s got the goods, talent, and manoeuvres, and he’s definitely got the ability so he should do it.
SJ: The last time you came here a year ago, this building, this National Surfing Centre wasn’t here at Fistral. It’s been just about made ready in time for the festival with some changes yet to come. What do you make of it?
Pottz: Well, it’s a bit of a shock actually, I can’t believe it’s actually here! I guess it’s good as long as it’s managed the right way and it has the surf clubs and surf schools involved, and that it’s for the surfers because at the end of the day that’s what actually brought it here. I think the surfing event at Fistral has made the town what it is, I think without the surfing involved Newquay wouldn’t be as popular as what it is, and without surfing this place wouldn’t be standing, so lets hope they do the right thing with it and look after the surfers.
SJ: Have you got any final thoughts on the festival here, or any others comments you would like to make?
Pottz: It’s good to be home, the weather hasn’t changed, and it’s good to be back and hopefully I can catch a few waves and make it through a few heats, and show the crowd that the old bloke’s still got it!