A word with the world number 5
A few months ago, people were unsure how to pronounce his surname or knew where he came from.
Now, Morgan Cibilic - pronounced 'si-bill-ik' if you're still wondering - is rated fifth in the world, making him Australia's highest ranked surfer on the Men's Championship Tour - higher than our Olympic qualifiers Owen Wright and Julian Wilson.
Morgs has been on the nightly news a number of times, his Colgate smile and unaffected charm winning over groms and suburban housewives alike.
Swellnet caught up with young MC a day after coming second to Gabriel Medina in the Rip Curl Search event at Rottnest Island.
Swellnet: This is your first year on the CT. What goal did you set for yourself at the start of the year?
Morgan Cibilic: Well, me and Bottle [Morgs' coach, Jay 'Bottle' Thompson] were talking and our original goal was to get inside the Top 22, obviously, but really it was to get top 10. That was our main goal - the ultimate goal, but the worse case scenario was that I manage to re-qualify.
In your answer, you said your 'original goal', so I assume you've updated it?
Ha ha...yeah. Now we're aiming for the top 5, but the worst case scenario is top 10...hopefully.
You're sitting in fifth place at the monent after catching fire through the Aussie leg. Do you feel like you're surfing better than normal?
Yes and no. In Newcastle, I definitely felt like I was surfing really good and my board was feeling really, really amazing. Then on the West Coast it felt like it wasn't actually clicking. At Rottnest, I honestly felt like I didn't put together one good wave in the whole comp.
Strickos is a tricky old wave, isn't it?
Yeah. I felt like I didn't do my best surfing over there, not even close, but at the same time, I had some good heats, had good heat strategy, and I knew my boards were solid. Despite not surfing great, I was feeling good.
Let's talk about the Final for a moment. Through the heat, did Gabriel Medina talk to you at all?
No, nothing. Not a word.
What about at the end of the Final? Did he respond to you then?
Yeah. He was just like, "Oh, unlucky. That was an unfortunate heat. The waves were just average."
Gabriel started the final boosting for the stratosphere. Did you see him go for that big air?
Yeah. Sure did.
And what were your thoughts when you saw him do that?
Just, "Oh, holy shit." But then he fell, so I was like, "That's good."
So you knew he was going to go for it. He was going to pull out all the stops.
Yeah, but it wasn't a surprise. He's never, ever going to back down or play it safe.
With about 15 minutes to go, Gabriel got a left, and he rolled in off the whitewash. The very next wave you also went to roll in off the whitewash, but then you pulled back to retain priority. Do you recall the wave I'm talking about?
Yeah. I think I needed an 8.5 and that wave just wasn't going to allow me on my backhand to get an 8.5.
It didn't have as much of a wall on it; didn't run off like Gabriel's did. So you held onto priority after that. In hindsight, is there anything you'd do differently from that point?
I guess so, but really, there's nothing that I could have changed in the heat at the time. If I had have gone that first exchange and gotten that first solid score, then he would have been in the predicament that I was and wouldn't have got another set.
You had the rough end of the priority cycle..?
Yep. Yeah. You can't just gift Gabriel priority. So there's honestly not much I feel I could have done, because the ocean just went quiet after that. If there had have been sets, which were coming through regularly before my heat and then after it, I felt confident that I was in the position to get the score.
Now, the next event is at Surf Ranch. Have you ever surfed in Kelly's tub?
No, I haven't.
What are your plans? Get over there early and book some sessions? Is that even possible..?
I've got a few training sessions that start on the 13th, I think. [Editor's Note: The Surf Ranch Pro starts on the 18th June]
So I'll probably go on the 12th or the 13th and try and get there for those.
And have you got a strategy going into it, different boards perhaps?
No, pretty similar. I'm a pretty little fellow, so I'll fit in the pocket anyway.
I'm going to get a couple of boards that are a bit smaller, but I'm going to bring over my magic stick from the East...
The one you rode at Narrabeen...?
Yeah. I rode it at Newcastle and Narrabeen. That could maybe be one of the boards that I ride. I haven't decided yet, and I've got a bunch of boards coming, yet there'll all going to be similar to that. I can try them out at Greenmount and stuff, which would be pretty similar to the wave pool.
OK, moving right along. You've already left Rottnest, you're back on the Gold Coast now, are you?
Got any particular plans for the coming swells?
I don't know yet, I'll have a suss when it comes, just cruise down and check it out. Probably surf somewhere along here. Anywhere that's going to be fun, I guess. I just want to have some fun surfs now. I'd rather get a bit loose and not risk hurting myself.
Well, there are days of waves coming, so you've got lots of time to get loose.
It looks good, doesn't it?
Sure does. All the best, Morgs.
Cheers for that, bye bye.