A new year with Mikey February
Michael February was born on the 17 May 1993. A week before his first birthday, Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the country’s first black president.
As of right now, Mikey is currently the second best competitive surfer from South Africa and he's the first replacement surfer on this year's Championship Tour. He’s gonna get some heat time, that’s for sure, and with news of Julian Wilson's injury, he might get it sooner than expected.
While his stocks have been steadily rising each year, Mikey's 2017 breakthrough was due to a stellar South African campaign, including a huge result at the Ballito Pro 10,000 which saw him race up the leader board.
A quick look at last year’s records shows he won the Nelson Mandela Bay Pro, the Corona Durban Surf Pro, and the Vans Surf Pro Classic, he came second at the Buffalo City Surf Pro, third at the Ballito Pro 10,000, and then fifth over at the Vans US Open of Surfing 10,000. If he kept the roll going he would've been a shoo-in for CT promotion, however he came up just two heat shorts at the Vans World Cup at Sunset.
At 6'3", and with a formidable wingspan, Mikey's got the build for the CT's double diamond venues and he's also got an impressive Big Match Temperament. A calculating competitor not prone to emotional busts, his cool disposition serves him well in battle, it's the opposite that comes less naturally: the breezy post-heat interviews and sound grabs that are manadatory for professional athletes.
But with his Quiksilver deal ramping up - he's all over their latest marketing campaigns - the public demand is only going to increase for Mikey.
Craig Jarvis recently chatted to South Africa's rising star with a velvet style.
Craig Jarvis: While you might not have secured your CT berth for 2018, you’re in a good place. What are the plans this year? Do you just wait for possible CT call-ups?
Mikey February: Yeah, obviously last year was a really tough one with the way it ended up, but on the other hand it was the most positive year I have ever had on tour so I really can't complain.
The goals this year are definitely going to be bigger, but I’m just going to keep the same mindset and headspace as the year before, and I’ll be working on those lessons I learnt last year.
As far as the WCT goes, it’s in my schedule for the year, so I’m just going to put myself on standby and be ready.
You’re now the second-highest ranked pro surfer from South Africa, with a real chance of getting into the big leagues and joining Jordy. Are you feeling pressure, or do you just thrive off the excitement?
It feels great to be the second highest SA surfer. Obviously there is a little bit of pressure, but at this stage I’m just excited to keep the momentum going and enjoy the new opportunities that will come this year.
What has changed in your life with regards to your sponsorship deals? Are you in a good place, 'cos apparently there aren’t too many of them?
Sponsorship-wise it has been amazing! I have felt a huge amount of support from my sponsors, as well as me getting more involved with each brand. It’s definitely been a big change and I'm really enjoying it.
Last year was a great year for you especially with the result at the Ballito Pro. Then Travis Logie pulled you aside to give you the Corona Open J'Bay. That must have been quite a moment?
As mentioned, I was already so happy with the third and the points, and then after the airshow Travis took me aside and spoke to me about J'Bay. I was ridiculously stoked about it. Like, at the time, it was the best thing ever.
Have you adopted any sort of training programs to give you an edge in the sport this year and keep you getting those big results?
I have been doing a little bit more training this off-season but nothing too hectic. The main solution for me is spending more time in the water and making sure I have my boards dialed. So I have therefore just been surfing loads and working on my quiver for this year with the guys from Channel Islands.
Who is your biggest inspiration in surfing and why?
My biggest inspiration in surfing at the moment would probably be guys like Dane, as well as legends like Buttons. Both are...or at least, were, really creative in the way they surfed. That's really appealing to me.
If you could change one thing in competitive surfing right now what would it be?
It would be rad if they added style into the criteria [laughs].
Talking of style, I hear you’ve got a number from the WSL?
Yes. After the Top 34 went through them there aren’t too many left, but I chose 54. It’s the number of countries in Africa, so it’s like I’m representing the whole of Africa.
That’s a cool concept. Love your work. Who is going to win the 2018 title?