Interview by Archi (SurfEurope)
Carrying The Torch: The Miky Picon Profile
Miky Picon is a guy used to dealing with pressure, pressure that comes in many forms. Expectation of being a red-hot young grommet in one of Europeâs most competitive surf scenes, disappointment of breaking his ankle in a semi final in Anglet back in 2001 when advancing just one heat would have secured him WCT qualification. And yet today, aged 27 and on his maiden WCT season, Mikyâs relaxed, calm approach to it all is already showing plenty of signs that the WCT is a place where he can hold his own.
SE: Where are you right now?
MP: Iâm at Alain Riouâs house in Tahiti.
You just lost a tight heat at Teahupoo against Taylor Knox in the final seconds. What happened?
I just made the biggest tactical error of my entire career, thatâs what happened. Iâd just gone into the lead with a few minutes to go and had priority. When I got to the peak I thought there were just 15 seconds left so I caught an average little wave. But then as I kicked out I realized that there were still another 10 seconds to go. Taylor needed a 6, caught a wave and won the heat. What I should have done is sat on him for the last 40 seconds and I wouldâve won the heat. Iâm kicking myself.
In the second round at Teahupoo you beat Pancho. That must have felt pretty good.
Parko and Fanning were staying in the same place as me for the Tahiti event. The night before my heat I was chatting with Fanning because we were both in the second round and I was telling him that I really didnât want to come up against someone like Panchoâ¦ and right then he says, âGuess what, youâve got Pancho!ââ I was pretty pissed off because there are so many other makeable heats at Teahupoo but Pancho definitely wasnât one of them. Heâs really hard to beat in those conditions. That evening I tried to forget about who I would be surfing against and just concentrate on my own surfing.
âI JUST MADE THE BIGGEST TACTICAL ERROR OF MY ENTIRE CAREER (VS. TAYLOR KNOX AT CHOPES), THATâS WHAT HAPPENED.â
I donât know how I managed it but I ended up winning the heat. I think I made a real impression on other surfers and the judges by winning that heat. But then that American clown who interviewed me after my heat was asking me questions as if it was the first time Iâd ever surfed hollow waves. That was pretty weird. I made it clear to him that we also have some great waves in Europe, that we have tried tube riding once or twice before…
How do you prepare for your heats? Which other competitors do you watch, check out their approach?
I did a lot of mental preparation for my take-offs. I did not want to wipeout at the beginning of a wave. I adapt my preparation for each competition. But Teahupoo and Pipe are definitely the ones where youâre most nervous. But getting barrelled is such a good feeling that you forget about the danger. At the moment I particularly like Bobby Martinezâs attitude. Heâs playing his heats out really well. Kelly isnât a good example because he gives the impression of not even preparing for his heats. I never see him training at a spot before a competition. Heâs a bit of a ghost on tour. So for me Andy is the surfer thatâs killing it on tour. Heâs the hardest one to beat. All you have to look at is his surfing to realize that.
How would you sum up your first three events on the WCT so far?
Itâs been constructive. If I had won that heat against Taylor I would have been exactly where I wanted to be. But the most important thing is that my surfing continues to progress on the tour. Iâve convinced myself I deserve a place in the top 30 and now itâs going to be a real battle until the end of the year.
The time this interview comes out you will have done 6 out of the 12 events on the WCT. Where would you like to be by that time?
Top 30. As long as I make that then Iâll be happy. I know that the second half of the tour is better suited to my surfing with events in France and at Mundaka. Iâm expecting to score good results at home.
âTHE SECOND HALF OF THE SEASON IS BETTER SUITED TO MY SURFING, WITH EVENTS IN HOSSEGOR AND MUNDAKA – IâM EXPECTING TO SCORE GOOD RESULTS AT HOME.â
Are there any other events youâre unsure about?
Not really, Iâm wary of events where I havenât surfed before like J-Bay and Mexico. Oh, and Pipeline of course. Pipe is scary, everyone gets scared at Pipe. Itâs the gnarliest wave on the circuit. But thatâs definitely where I dream of scoring a good a result.
Do you think youâve changed at all since joining the WCT?
Thatâs not an easy question. You might be better off asking one of my friends. To get on the WCT you have to really want it and be prepared to fight for it. In my second year competing I quit my studies by correspondence because I knew thatâs what I wanted. I didnât quit because I didnât like studying or was fed up. Itâs because Iâd made a choice and school wasnât allowing me to progress in my sport. Every winter I had to travel to Australia and Hawaii to push my level of surfing with the best. Quiksilver gave me the means because they knew I was serious and determined about it.
There are a lot of young surfers today that would love to do the same, they want to quit school to be able to focus everything on surfing. They think itâs the only way to do it and they might not be completely wrong, as studies in France take up all your free time. But itâs not an easy choice. And itâs not by going out and getting wasted at weekends that youâre going to go a long way. Youâve got to train. Itâs a choice you have to make. I remember that Patrick (Beven) and I never drank alcohol. We were the only ones against all that. And still today you wonât catch me smoking or drinking. Shit, if you want to win then youâve got to be serious or youâve got no chance.
When you paddle out for a heat, do you have the feeling youâre there to represent France, Europe or yourself? Is nationality that important in surfing?
Iâm there to represent myself, France, Europe and Quiksilver. But I donât think nationality is that important. Weâre all human beings and all get on fine. But I guess to some people itâs more important. You can be sure that when a Hawaiian pulls a big snap everyone will go âWowâ and when a Brazilian or European pulls a big snap everyone will go âWowâ but it wonât get quite the same score.
How does it feel to have left your mates on the WQS and be among the elite today? When are the rest of the Europeans going to join you on the WCT?
I miss my friends loads. The tour maybe isnât as fun as the QS, but there isnât too much missingâ¦ a little luck maybe. Everyone knows their weaknesses, you have to work on them for one or two years and Iâm confident that in that time there will be 5 or 6 Europeans on the WCT. Tiago, Eric, Alain, Tim, Fredo, Russell, Aritz, Marlon, Justin, Jonathan, Eneko, they all have the ability.
âWHAT I DO KNOW IS THAT IâLL ALWAYS SURF LA PISTE, AND IâLL ALWAYS BE AT QUIKSILVER.â
And what about Miky making the Top 10? Is that a realistic goal?
With a bit of luck in the heat draws. There are some guys that are much more beatable depending on the conditions. For example, Bruce Irons at Pipeline or Bruce Irons in Brazil? Iâd rather have him in my heat in Brazil. Adriano de Souza in Brazil or Adriano de Souza at Pipeline? Iâd rather have him in my heat at Pipeline.
And what happens if you donât requalify for the 2007 WCT?
Iâll give myself another 5 years and then seeâ¦ maybe less I donât know. In any case when Iâve had my stab at it Iâll be happy to pass the torch on to the next generation of surfers, making sure that theyâre not ripped off by the Anglophones. Beyond that, who knows what the future holds? But what I do know is that Iâll always surf La Piste, and that Iâll always be at Quiksilver.