Twelve months ago Keanu Asing was triumphant. The Hawaiian had just won the Quiksilver Pro France and provided one of the greatest upsets in recent surfing history. Coming into that event as World No. 33, the win rocketed him ten places up the CT rankings and left qualification very much in his own hands. Everything was looking up, until it wasn't.
"After winning the Quik Pro France I was on a real high, then the very next day I cut my foot in Portugal and almost had to miss the event," Asing tells the WSL from Portugal as he prepares for the EDM Cascais Billabong Pro. "I got a bad result there, which meant that I needed a solid one at Pipe. I didn't get it, so just like that, I fell off the CT."
His rookie year had been a roller coaster, and one that had taken its toll. He'd lost his place on the CT sure, but more worryingly he'd lost his way in life a little.
"I think doing the two tours last year was really stressful," he says. "I was doing up to three events a month and I never had time to decompress and figure out what I needed to work on; be it boards, or fitness or even what was the most important things in my life."
Asing was always going to hit the QS full-time in 2017. He'd worked incredibly hard to make the cut in 2015 and proved with the win in France that he truly belongs at the elite level. However the lessons learned in 2016 meant a recalibration was needed. A new approach was required.
"I have simplified everything really and have made more time for myself. It's given me time to focus on the values I really need to hang onto," he says. "So that, rather than focusing on where there are opportunities for points, has allowed me a better outlook, not just competitively, but in life."
So far it's worked. Asing has won QS events in Australia, Barbados and Virginia. Before Cascais, he was sitting at 7th on the QS rankings. However his new found happiness isn't based on his rankings, but on the enjoyment he gets from surfing and competing. By slowing down and looking around, he may have found a better path back to the CT.
It will however be harder to live in the moment as the year goes on. There are more points up for grabs and the ultimate prize of qualification will come into sharper focus. However Asing is refusing to be drawn back into the intensity of the chase. Last year's highs and lows have shaped him as a surfer and a person and he's determined to maintain the new perspective he has had all year.
"You have to keep the pencil sharp, but I was trying too hard last year and it felt like I was pushing it away," he says. "In previous years I was caught up in what everyone else was doing and what results would affect me. I'm trying not to wrap my brain around that stuff and waste my energy. I need to put everything into what I can control and that's what will best help in getting results. Look, all year I've been reaching my own personal goals and going forward that's all that matters."