At the end of the month the Standup World Tour heads to Sao Paolo, Brazil with some of the top standup paddlesurfers from around the globe. As the last stop before the Finals’ unannounced ‘Location X,’ many top contenders will be looking to earn points and secure their spots at Brazil’s Maresias Pro. We had the chance to chat with the Tour's current leading man, Sean Poynter. The top-ranked paddlesurfer gives us the deets on how he's stepped up his game and why he's a strong supporter of the Standup World Tour. —SC
You've had a successful year on the Tour thus far, what's different from 2011?
I've been training a lot with my coach, Ian Cairns, and am trying to just continue moving in the right direction. My fitness is there, my boards and equipment are good and ready, and I think the difference is the amount of work I'm putting in. I'm focusing a lot more on my surfing and competitive surfing— my entire game. In 2011 I wanted to win, but that was an unrealistic goal. This year, things have aligned and winning a title is my goal.
How were you able to pull out the win in Tahiti?
Since starting the Tour at Sunset [Beach] I felt good; I felt confident, but I finished with an equal fifth place. In France I was feeling on and was in full swing, but had a disappointing finish. Going into Tahiti, I felt prepared and really pushed myself each heat, stepping up the level [of competition] for the next heat. I figured out the break, really focused and just felt really good all the way into the finals.
Does your win in Tahiti give you the confidence you need going into Brazil?
Yeah, it definitely does. I'm looking to take that into Brazil and 'Location X' too. Guys like Kai Lenny and Robin Johnston are behind me [in the current rankings] and Tahiti gave me a little leap, but it doesn't really matter. I think Kai is nine points behind me but you can't look at points or focus on that, you have to look at event wins and put work in. I've felt good all year— last year too— but it depends on how focused I am and what the other guys do, so I'm just focusing on getting work in before Brazil.
What's it like going head-to-head with three-time World Champion Kai Lenny?
Kudos to Kai and congrats on the Series championship. Winning that series is so good. Those guys paddle their asses off and I don't know how they do it. I don't think about Kai's titles too much though. He's a really good competitor and surfer, but I have to keep my focus on my game, my level of surfing and the finish. If I can do that, I can win.
Where would you like the Standup World Tour's 'Location X' to be for the Finals?
I've heard it might be somewhere in the Caribbean, which would be cool. I don't know where there are waves there because I haven't really been there. I've heard about a point break somewhere near St. Thomas, but I'm just hoping for really good surf because a buddy of mine down there said it's been pumping lately. If the Tour goes to the Caribbean for the Finals it couldn't be a better way to finish, with tropical weather, clear blue water and waves.
What do you think of some of the criticism aimed at the Standup World Tour lately, which seems to come standard with any world tour in any sport?
I'm behind the Standup World Tour one hundred percent and stoked on it. The tour is still new and Tristan Boxford is the best director. Things take time. Rome wasn't built in a day— I think that applies to the Tour. I'm looking forward to the next events because we'll have live coverage. The media end is growing and the Tour is headed in the right direction. Having the Huntington Beach Pro cancelled was definitely a bummer and I think it probably deterred some people from believing in the Tour, but things happen. I expect only good things for 2013 and anybody on the fence about the Tour should stick with it and finish it out because it's just going to get better.