Sitting here in Sao Paulo airport awaiting my flight on to Florianopolis...my second flight to Floraino, the first was canceled. And I'm feeling a little out of sorts. No doubt the night spend on the plane is contributing to how I feel...but it can also be attributed to the past month or so of traveling. More than that, I am a little stressed right now.
I came here to win the World Title this year. Last year was a great experience, and finishing second to Pierre Maixent on the World Tour is something that I am very proud of, especially when the depth of the field is taken in to account. But last year I came in to this round just one point behind Pierre, and after my worst contest finish of my career, (10th) I left here without a chance at the title. This year things are different. The last round, or two (I am still not sure what the plan is, or what it will turn in to come the contest) of the Championship will be this weekend. Last year the skis John Dady of Blowsion was so gracious enough to ship down for us were held up in customs, where they sit to this very day, and needless to say did not make it for the contest. Mike Serlin was nice enough to let me ride the ski he was provided for the event, but we had some mechanical issues with the boat all weekend. Even so, the poor performance was my fault and it cost me.
Now one year later, we come in to Brazil for the final round of the IFWA World Tour, and I have a lead in the points. Pierre is not really in contention for the title this year, but two very strong riders in Federico Buffachi and Romain Stampers are. And I am not sure who is farther down the list that will be here...but Federico and Romain are tied for second. Needless to say, things are tight. And there is a long list of Brazilian riders who could very easily take out an American early on. So I guess I'm feeling a little pressure. This contest, like so many of the others is going to take a 100% effort in just about every round. But there are a few unknowns as of yet. Sergio Buena is building me a ski to ride, which is amazingly generous of him...the guy does not even know me. So I know the hull will be good, and I am bringing my JSU motor) but it will be different than anything I have ridden before. If all goes according to plan, I will have Friday to ride the ski, sort out any issues we may have with it, and get comfortable enough on it to go compete and win! I guess that is what is putting the most pressure on me. I know I have what it takes to win, and I am here to do just that, I just don't like the unknowns.
At any rate, I am really looking forward to seeing everyone who is coming this year. There is a bit of an abbreviated list of foreign riders this year due to a lack of skis. I hope Jimbo is coming, but I don't think he is. Still out with a broken wrist...things are just not the same with out him. He is the guy I look to most as a role model in this sport. He trains harder than anyone, you will not find him at the bars, and he has been totally dominant for a long long time. His South African counterpart Jeremy Phillips will be here again this year, and he is always fun to watch ride! The lone German this year is Arik, although you may have to consider him a Spaniard now that he lives in Marbella, Spain. He has turned in to such a good friend, I think I may just have to consider him the second American. Arik has come a long way with his riding and will be a tough competitor I'm sure. From what I have heard, Pierre is coming but I have not heard that from him...hope he makes it. He raises the level of riding from everyone across the board. I wonder if Romain is going to come this year. I would hope so, he is in second place in the points, and his performance from 06 is more or less legendary, his shoulder came out of socket two times. Both times he went up to the beach...put it back and then continued to compete. Federico has a second home in Florianopolis, and although he was in a little trouble and did not come last year, he should be there in full force this year. I have not seen Ivo Sehn since the Pismo contest last year. He took the year off from the tour, but will be back to compete at home. Ivo is a great friend and an amazing rider. He, as well as several other Brazilian riders easily have what it takes to win this year. Lenzi and Carvaholo are tow of the most recognizable names of the sport, and they are here to win as well.
It looks like it will be another great contest. Hopefully we will have good conditions like we had last year. Surf was insane and weather was great almost the whole time.
I guess there is no real point in stressing over the contest. I know I have trained harder than any of the other guys, and no one else wants it more than I do. So I will do what I can to go and get it. Now all I have to do is actually get there...which is proving harder and harder.