Keen observations from one of the WCT's most astute members
For 14th consecutive years on the CT Ace Buchan has maintained a cutting edge that places him in a truly elite class of surfer. Now only behind Kelly Slater in terms of CT experience, Tracks talked to Ace on subjects as varied as tour life after Mick and Joel, his competitive desire, watching Wilko lose and the very future of the sport.
A Tour Without Mick and Joel
Mick and Joel qualified a few years before I did and they have always been there for me as the benchmark to strive for. I looked up to them both for different reasons. Joel for his natural talent, ability to read a wave beautifully and his ultra competitiveness. And then as I’ve had my own family, I’ve seen what he has achieved with Monica and the three kids and I have even more respect. With Mick we’ve traveled together over the last five years so I’ve seen how resilient he is through all the hardships he's faced. I really believe Mick paved the way for my generation to be truly professional and no one has done more to elevate the sport.
The Early Days
When I started on tour Occy was surfing so competing against him as a kid was incredible. But there was Taj, Jake Paterson, Richie Lovett, Hog and Mick Lowe. It was a whole generation of really successful and motivated Aussies. We all stuck together. The difference now, and I include myself in this, is that we have so much more team support. As we get more professional, that support comes from coaches, trainers and filmers. That means that there isn’t the need to band together as much, and there’s a lot less Aussies on the CT now, but I’m always here to help if asked. I take that role pretty seriously.
Last year traveling with Wilko was really tough watching him lose. It showed the line between success and failure is so fine on the CT. For Wilko a few heats was the difference on having a career at the top level or going back to the QS. He had things going on outside the surf, but that’s life, and you have to deal with it. And with Parko it was clear he was just enjoying himself and he never really clicked into fifth gear and so never got a result. Then I flew to Hawaii with him and I just felt he had a little bit of the spark or desire back and he won Haleiwa. It just showed that without motivation or competitive fire, results will never happen. If that goes, it’s all over.
The Olympics are around the corner and the potential to represent my country is a big driver for me. To end my career at Tokyo would be the ideal finish for me personally. To be in the stadium at the opening ceremony with all the athletes from around the world would be incredible. It’s something I’ve thought about a lot.
With the wave pools we need to be careful to strike the right balance between being authentic and taking the opportunity to take our sport to a whole new audience in a stadium atmosphere. That’s huge for sure, but it’s the Pipelines, the Bells and the Teahupoos that make our sport so special. The love of the ocean will always be need to be at the heart of that decision making process.
The WSL And Future Of The Sport
It’s in a good place. We can all digest and watch the tour so easily now. In terms of the future investment, or current lack thereof, I think that will come. We are a young sport and we aren’t moving in the same spheres as golf or tennis. But maybe that’s not where we want to be. I like the mongrel character in surfing and that needs to be celebrated. I also think we have an ownership group that has the best interest of the sport at heart. No one has all the answers and it’s changing so fast, but I think we are slowly evolving to where the sport should be and that’s exciting.