[Courtesy & Copyright © Shiraz Jiwa]
SJ: Bearing in mind you’ve recently beaten the likes of ex world champion ‘Occy’, why aren’t you competing at the higher 6* event at Huntingdon this week?
Russell: Well because it’s my hometown and I wanted to come back and win it in front of my family and friends. In America I wasn’t in the money round, and obviously that’s why I’ve come here.
SJ: You and ‘Occy’ are old friends and going on from what he said about you having the potential to be one of the top ten surfers in the world. Do you view your injury at Teahupoo last year when you were in critical condition as a turning point in your career?
Russell: Yeah, I do. Since I’ve had a few injuries over the years, and they’re all behind me now. That was an unfortunate injury that I could not have foreseen. But yeah, that happened; I’m a lot better now, a lot fitter, and basically I’m enjoying myself a lot more now. I’ve got myself a new girlfriend and I’m happy and the tour’s great. I love competing against the best guys in the world and I just want to beat them, so everything’s going really well for me this year.
SJ: How do you see both your career, as well as British surfing progressing on the international scene in the next 5/10 years?
Russell: I definitely think it’s going to get bigger with people like RipCurl sponsoring the contest and Davidoff sponsoring the expression session. Things like that are brilliant, and they are a big company and that’s what we need to cover surfing.
SJ: You mean corporate sponsorship outside the surfing industry?
Russell: Sure, why not? We’ve got great festivals for skating and shops all that kinda stuff, it’s good. We’ve also got great beaches for it, so why not. It’s improved and the waves have come good for the final day, and I think everyone’s enjoying themselves really.
SJ: With projects such as the Newquay Artificial Reef project and the redevelopment of Fistral, do you think it’ll help put British surfing on the map more?
Russell: Yeah, I’d like to think so. I mean you’ll never really know until it happens, but I think that globally with the global media and with the surfing tour the way they are on the website these days and how big it is, I think it’ll bring the top 44 surfers here. We’ll have a major contest here, and it’ll bring the global media which get us on the map, and I think it’ll be really good for us. Definitely.
[Photo courtesy & Copyright © Carve Magazine]
SJ: How do you regard your current sponsorship situation? (Off the record or on.)
Russell: No no, I’m not worried about it really. It’s not nice to be dropped by a sponsor (Headworx) at such a critical time. I’d made it back and I thought they were going to support me through when I had the injury. They didn’t, but I’m happier now, a lot happier to have no sponsor.
SJ: You’ve proved yourself this year really, and you’ve proved that Headworx were wrong for dropping you.
Russell: Yeah, exactly and I’ve got the last laugh I think, and I’ll be searching for another one, and if I do well like this, then good things will happen I think.
SJ: What are your views on issues like localism and areas like that? Do you think it has a part to play in surfing or is it something that does exist and there’s nothing you can do about it?
Russell: Yeah there’s nothing you can do about it in certain places. I mean England here, we haven’t got the most world class waves for anybody to get too annoyed out in the surf. It is like in the best places in the world like Hawaii and spots like that, really good spots; you get your home break and that’s the time of year when the waves get good, and that’s when you get a contest with loads of guys coming to your town, and it’s like they’ve taken all your waves. In some places it’s bad. I don’t agree on it. I don’t come from places like that so I’m not used to it.
SJ: What about when you travel overseas, do you experience trouble then, such as in France or Spain or even in America?
Russell: Yeah more in Hawaii and Australia. You get guys that do punch people out and hit them, say get out of the water and stuff. They’re just guys with big ego’s and they have got nothing to do than act big cos they live there. That’s not the attitude to take. But yeah, it does happen and that’s the way of the world.
[Photo courtesy & Copyright © Carve Magazine]
SJ: What boards are you currently riding and who shapes them?
Russell: For the moment I’m riding Jonny Pertons boards. He’s from Wales and he’s coming down to Newquay, he shapes a lot at this place called Surfworx and he’s just really me out with a lot of boards and the success I’ve had this last month or so has been on his boards. They’re absolutely brilliant, and I’m just so stoked that I’m riding a British guys boards for once and we’ve got someone out there shaping good boards.