Former world No.2 Brad Gerlach needs little introduction in the surfing world. The stylish Californian and Championship Tour veteran is best known for his exploits in waves of consequence. The surfing coach traveled to compete at the Siargao Cloud 9 Surfing Cup for a number of reasons. We caught up with him to find out out his reasoning for coming to the QS's newest 3,000 level event.
What brings you to the Philippines?
I have actually come over for a few reasons, number one is that I got approached to commentate the event which is great. I'm a real student of the sport and love analysis of style, so commentary is really enjoyable for me. I then thought, if I'm coming to the event, I may as well pull on the jersey and get out there. I coach a lot of surfers that compete in QS events with four-man priority so I thought the best way for me to get a grip on it is to experience it myself.
Have you been to the Philippines before?
Yes, I have but to a place way up North. This is my first time to Siargao and Cloud 9 so I'm stoked to check it out. This place is beautiful, I feel like Bali would have been like this back in the day. The wave is pretty amazing as well, I got some really nice tubes in my heat which was cool.
Tell us what it was like competing again.
Well, I haven't competed since the 1990s so it's safe to say it's been a while. As I mentioned it was more because I was here and I thought it would be a good learning experience surfing in four-man heats. Turns out I actually made a heat and got really barreled in the meantime so it worked out pretty well for me. I ended up getting the highest single-wave score of the round. I took a late drop and some how just pulled up into the tube. I don't think I would have been so late into it if I was younger and faster, so I guess being a bit older played to my advantage. I also didn't want to look like a kook so to get the highest wave score of the round is great.
On the final night of the event you sat down with some of the local surfers and talked to them about what it takes to become an elite pro surfer. Could you tell us about that?
I was given the opportunity to hang out with some of the locals and just talk through my experience as a professional surfer. I have been really impressed with the quality of surfers in this area, they really have what it takes to mix it up with the best. With some coaching in heat structure, video analysis and focus on equipment, there is no reason why some of the top surfers from the Philippines couldn't have a good charge on the QS. It was just a cool night and cool way to give back to the local surfing community.
Editor's note: Gerlach was eliminated in Round Two in a close heat with Hawaiian super-grom Noah Beschen, who posted a winning score after the buzzer. Although he only made one heat, the former CT star still looked in great shape and seriously competitive in a contest jersey. It was a privilege to have his insight on the webcast with the funny man entertaining all who tuned in. By far the greatest success of his trip was the time he shared with the local crew. The insight and light he shed on his experience as not only a professional competitive surfer but as a big-wave charger is something that will be held onto by everyone that was in the room that night.