It's a fantasy come true! Like Pete Rose!
Is it your dream to be on the World Surf League’s Championship Tour? To surf those waves in front of the hundreds online and maybe win it all? To be chaired up the beach on the shoulders of your best acquaintances and sip lukewarm Red Bull?
I can only imagine that was Blake Thornton’s. Who he? Oh ye of little memory! Blake stormed onto the CT in 2010 after winning Santa Cruz’s Coldwater Classic and competed for maybe the year before maybe falling off? Surf historian Matt Warshaw…I’m looking in your direction right now. That’s what happened, yeah? In my mind’s eye he had a beard and powerful cutback.
In any case, this year saw Blake riding a hot hand all the way to first place…of Fantasy Surfer! Yes, the Australian native won it all (six nights at the North Shore’s Turtle Bay plus two welcome drinks) and did it in such fashion that he didn’t even need Pipe. Adriano, are you reading? Mick, are you? Blake crushed his competition early and crushed them often and, thus, was allowed to play golf instead of being glued to those last heats. Surfer mag interviewed the champ after his victory. Let’s tuck in!
Do you feel like your professional career helped narrow your picks?
I would be lying if I said it didn’t help in a way. I think having surfed all the spots and knowing how they break on different swells and how certain guys perform at certain venues was definitely an advantage.
As we approached the last event, did you feel confident that you were going to win the whole thing?
I wasn’t too up to speed with the whole numbers breakdown, but my buddy—who actually got me into Fantasy Surfer initially—is an accountant and a real number-cruncher. He did the math and said it would be tough for someone to overtake me as I had a pretty low throwaway.
How did you find out that you won?
I just jumped online after Pipe had finished and I saw that I was still rated number one. Not long after I received the official email and was pretty much in shock. I was actually playing golf on the finals day. It was pretty hard to sit through some of the slow heats, so I was streaming it on my phone and tuning in to the highlights.
How did Fantasy Surfer begin for you?
I joined Fantasy Surfer two years ago and it started out as a way for me and my buddy to go head-to-head each event. In the beginning, I didn’t do much research. I just picked teams based on which surfer I thought had a good chance at the event and even picked a few guys who were friends. But it wasn’t until the Trestles comp that my mate informed me I was ranked fourth in the world. From there, I started to dig into it more and looking into the forecast. But I never studied heat draws or anything like that — just the surf forecast.
Any shockers this season? Looks like you killed it at Portugal and Tahiti, but Rio and Lowers were rough.
Yeah, Rio and Lowers are tough ones to pick, particularly Rio, I guess. It’s a funky beach break and there are always a lot of scrappy heats. It’s a place where even the best surfers struggle and there are always upsets. Trestles is such a machine. Now that the judging has evened off a bit, it feels like it’s a venue that rewards both rail and air surfing equally. There’s no guarantee that real high-performance guy like Toledo can beat a real solid rail surfer like Ace out there. So that’s why it was a tricky one for me.
Do you have any advice that you’d want to to give other players?
My biggest advantage was that I had been there and done that. Paying attention to the history of the surfer at the event would be a good start. Swell forecasts are always a good trick, too, but I reckon the best way is to keep it fun and maybe start a club with a bunch of mates like I did. Who knows — you might find yourself on top at the end of the year.
If you are racist and/or xenophobic and are angry with surfing’s two Brazilian champs in a row embrace Blake and your problems be solved!