Chris Davidson Interview: The World’s Highest Rated Unsponsored Surfer
Looking at the ASP World Tour ratings going into Bells, the top ten reads like a fairly standard year: Parko, Fanning, Taj, Bede, Jeremy Flores, and …. Chris Davidson? American audiences may remember Davo from his glory days in the Rip Curl Search videos, shredding alongside Tom Curren and crew. Or perhaps from way back in 1996 when, as an orange-haired, eighteen-year-old prodigy he took down Kelly Slater at Bells on a borrowed board.
Davo unleashing at the Dream Tour’s season opening Quiksilver Pro Snapper Rocks. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
Since then, Davo has made the World Tour three times, but fallen off each time. However, after finishing runner up on the WQS last year, the wiry and tatted up Aussie from Sydney’s northern beaches is back on the Dream Tour, and is hoping that the fourth time will be the charm. He’s got a legendary rep for being wild and crazy, but he started this year out with a ninth at Snapper, looking sharp and tuned up. We caught up with him just before he the Bells event for a quick check in and found that, ranked #9 in the world, Davo is the highest rated surfer with no major sponsorship deal.—Casey Koteen
TransWorld SURF: I keep reading these little blips about you being a rookie, but you’ve been on the world tour three times before, right?
Chris Davidson: Yeah, I’ve been off and on, but it’s really good to be back. I’ve started this year well, pretty stoked on that. It would’ve been nice to beat Parko, but oh well.
I guess it can make a loss a bit less painful when you lose to the guy who goes on to win the event?
It smoothes it over a little bit. But it would’ve been nice to beat him.
Never one to hold back, Davo gives 110% every turn. Photo: Bielmann/SPL
You looked loose and on your game in that comp. Had you been doing some training before the event?
I’ve been doing some cross training, like beach running, skipping, boxing, just stuff to keep you quick and on your toes. No weight training, more speed work. I’m super focused on Bells right now, although I’m a little worried about my wrist, it’s bit of a nightmare to surf with.
How’d you hurt your wrist?
Ah, just surfing, doing an air and landed on the sandbar and cracked it.
It seems like if you want to compete for the top ten now, you pretty much have to train. Lots of those guys have personal trainers.
I don’t think you need a personal trainer. If you’re fit, psyched, and focused enough to train yourself, then you’re fine. Most of the guys with trainers have a lot of money, but I’m hard up enough to get a contract—I still haven’t got one for this year. Basically, I’m looking for sponsorship at the moment.
You’re certainly not the only one, it’s going around right now.
Yeah the economy is tough and a lot of people are getting dropped. Guys like Shaun Cansdell from Billabong and fair few other people. But I’m back on the World Tour and got a ninth at the first event, so I thought I’d get a good offer.
Does that situation make it that much more important to do good this year?
It’s always been important, but I’m getting to the back end of my career and I want to do well. I want to fulfill my goal of having a top ten finish, so that’s playing on my mind a bit. But I’ll just take it event by event.
I don’t know if you saw our World Tour preview article we did a few issues ago, but for your entry we wrote something like, “If Davo stays out of the pub he could do some serious damage.” Is that fair?
Yeah I’ve been staying out of the pubs, and out of everything, which has been good. We had a little bit of a party after the Gold Coast, but since then I’ve been laying low with my hurt wrist. I haven’t been surfing as much as I would’ve liked, but I’ll get down to Bells a few days early and get some surfs in there. My boards are going well at the moment, and if I can keep the momentum going everything will be good.
What’s your take on the new format, which they’ll be running at Bells?
I’m not sure. I suppose I’ll be finding out about that this week. I got ninth at the first event, but I’m not sure if I get a seed into the higher round with that.
It seems pretty confusing. From what I understand the top sixteen surfers from year end 2008 ratings get seeded into the second round. I guess after Bells the comps that run the new format will have surfers currently rated nine to sixteen will get the round two seed.
If that’s the case, it’s a case of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.
I guess we’ll all find out for sure once the event starts.
Yeah, me too, I’ll find out once I get there. For me it’s just game on. Maybe I’ll see you guys later this year in America, I’ll be there for Huntington and Trestles.
So you’ll be backing things up by doing some WQSes?
Definitely, I love doing both. It keeps me focused, and keeps me out of Australia and the pubs. It keeps my mind on the job.
Yeah, you seem to do good at the U.S. Open.
Yeah, two years ago I got fifth, and then last year I got to the quarters, I think.
Okay, well good luck over at Bells.
Chris Davidson scopes the talent (actually it’s Kelly’s chick and some friends) at Duranbah. Photo: Justin Cote