When we caught up with world number five, Morgan Cibilic, he was at Sydney Airport about to board his flight for California. Seated alongside Morgan was his good friend and fellow starter in the Jeep Surf Ranch Pro, Liam O’Brien. This time two years ago the Ozi duo were toiling on the QS and contemplating alternative careers. Now they are surfing CT semi-finals against one another and part of the lineup (O’Brien as a wildcard) for Lemoore’s fabled pond. With the hopes of Ozi surf fans riding on his shoulders, we asked Morgan a few questions about his strategy for an event that is unlike any other he has surfed before.
Look out for a full feature on Morgan in the next issue of Tracks.
Have you surfed the pool before?
No, I’ve never surfed it, I’m just cruising.
So. Just the novelty of surfing the pool must be exciting?
Yeah, it looks like the funnest wave. It’s pretty much new to our sport. Not many people have had the chance to surf it so I’m pretty excited. When they had the first event I thought that looks so fun, but I guess at the same time, it’s pretty boring to watch. But it looks mental to surf I reckon.
How many waves do you get to ride in the lead-up?
So everybody gets a total of 16 waves – eight waves each way. But then we just got the news, the rookies get an extra two waves each way. So, we get 20 waves total before. (Mid-question Morgan turned to, Liam O’Brien, who is a wildcard entry in the event. Liam confirmed that wildcards will get the regulation 16 preparation rides, but not the additional four)
Do you have a specific strategy concerning the pool? Have you looked at footage and considered your approach?
Yeah, definitely. There are definitely certain parts of the wave that you can capitalise on and then certain areas that maybe you just have to cruise on. I sat down with Bottle (coach Jay Bottle Thompson) and sorted out a few runs, but nothing too crazy. I’m just gonna try to play it by ear for the first little bit and try and feel out the wave. I’ve heard it’s really tricky and super different to what you expect. And yeah, I heard it’s really crucial to make sure that you try and ride out those first few waves and understand the wave, and feel the power of it and how it works because it’s apparently pretty different from the ocean.
Do you think you need an aerial component in your act to really do really well?
I believe that you can get to the final eight without doing aerials. I mean if you look at Owen (Wright) he wasn’t really doing airs and he got third last time so there’s your answer right there but I feel like if you want to be in contention to win or whatever, you’ve got to have that next step for sure.