The sporting life can make for cruel theater: Give a kid everything, and then start taking things away, little by little, and see how he reacts. After putting up one of the best rookie years in history (two event wins, fifth in the world) Bobby Martinez has settled into a late career of tumultuous results and contentious interactions with sponsors.
With his future on the brink, Martinez failed to show up for the J-Bay and Tahiti events, and failed to say why. The only clues to his mindset were found in his Tweets, which railed against the Dream Tour, stood in defiance to ASP fines, and climaxed with the ever-reassuring “MY WIFE AND EVERYONE ELSE THINKS IM LOOSING MY MIND BUT I FEEL GREATTTTT!!!!!!! NEVER BEEN BETTER!!!!!!!” In August, he publicly declared that the Quiksilver Pro New York would be his last World Tour event.
I just don’t like this tennis format they’ve adopted. They cut it down to 32 people, saying it would take three days to run an event, and it still takes four days. I don’t like how no one gets a whole year. I hate how you only get five events. It’s stupid. They’re trying to cut people’s year before they even get started. If it was a full year, you might have three 33rds the first few events, but the second half of the year, like we’ve seen Mick do, you could get on a roll and have the year of your life.
Surfing needs a full year, because we’re dealing with the ocean. It’s not a clay f–kin’tennis court, where everyone’s hitting a dumb ball back and forth. Surfing, is its own unique thing–so keep it different. It also goes back to locations and judging. We have one left on Tour–Teahupoo. For it to be more well rounded and fair, there should be three lefts. What’s wrong with that? Put us in some really good waves. The first four events this year, we’ve had three right points and a beachbreak. That’s tough for any goofyfooter. What’s that new Rip Curl kid’s name?
* GABRIEL MEDINA?
No, no, he’s on Tour right now. Blond. What’s his name?
* OWEN WRIGHT.
Yeah. I don’t care if you’re f–king Owen Wright–you’re gonna have trouble with three right points, and he’s got all the hype in the world. It’s not a level playing field in my eyes. Sooner or later it’s gonna be all regularfoots on that Tour. The locations are wrong. And I feel like the judging is f–ked completely.
* DO YOU FEEL LIKE THE JUDGES HAVE TURNED AGAINST YOU?
No, no, I’m not talking about me. I’ve lost when I’ve lost, won when I’ve won. But in general the judging is a joke. It’s bad and it’s been bad for a while. I had a talk with a judge last year in France, and said, “You guys look more confused than ever.” And he told me, “We actually feel better about our judging than ever before.” But everyone except for the person who wins the event thinks the judging is f–ked. Then again, judging is tough. Every sport, there are always going to be people who are unhappy. But when you have the best surfers in the world scratching their heads at every call, saying that wasn’t right, then it wasn’t right.
* DO YOU THINK THE FUTURE OF PRO SURFING IS IN COMPETITION? IF DANE ISN’T ON TOUR, KELLY’S NOT ON TOUR, YOU’RE NOT ON TOUR, IS THE WORLD TITLE STILL RELEVANT?
I don’t know. I didn’t think surfing would go where it is now, so anything is possible. I didn’t think surfing would get this bad. If surfing keeps going the way it goes, I hope people say they’re not going to be a part of it. We don’t need contests to know who the best is. We all know who the best is. Dane’s the best. I’m a competitor but I give him his props. He’s the f–king best. We all know that. I don’t care if he wins the contest or not–he’s the best. He’s the best we’ve ever seen in our lives. He does shit no one dreams of doing. I don’t care if Kelly wins–and I love Kelly–I don’t care if Mick wins, or Joel, or de Souza. In my eyes, Dane is the World Champ, because he’s the best. Surfing isn’t giving him the opportunity to show he’s the best, even though everyone knows it. Maybe it should be a round robin. Let people go surf for an hour or two, during a good swell, and let them go crazy. Show who is the most badass, instead of chasing 5s to make a heat. That would give Dane the opportunity to get what he deserves–a World Title. And it would be more fun for fans to watch.
Obviously my wins, but that whole first year on Tour, I had finally made it, and I really wanted to be there, and I really enjoyed myself. Everything was new. That first year for me was great. I was having the most fun of my life competing. Just to be there finally, the Dream Tour, I worked my ass off for it and I could finally enjoy it. Just to feel that … I’ll probably never get that again in my life, as far as the happy times I had. Everywhere I went, I had fun. It’s not like that anymore. I don’t get that feeling anymore. For those reasons, I’ll take that year with me forever.
* LET’S SAY YOU NO LONGER SURF FOR A LIVING. HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT WHAT YOU MIGHT DO INSTEAD?
I want to work with troubled youths, kids who ain’t got nothing, who have people doubting them, telling them they’re f–k-ups. Kids who’ve been in trouble with the law already. I want to help those kids who people won’t help. If I could do that, help those kids, help others, that’s what I’d love. I don’t know if that’s taking them to the beach, or speaking to them … I haven’t really thought about it enough because I’m so wrapped up in this surfing thing. But I want to help these kids before they ruin their lives. I’d give this surfing shit up in a heartbeat if I could do that. Surfing is selfish, but if I could help those kids from going down the wrong path, before it’s too late … I’d feel like I was winning world titles everyday.
* A LOT OF PEOPLE READ YOUR TWEETS AND THOUGHT YOU WERE SURFING’S CHARLIE SHEEN.
[Laughs.] Yes. I’ve gotten all these messages from people. “What the f–k?” “Are you bipolar?” I’ve gotten some funny stuff. I don’t respond. I just laugh. It’s pretty funny to me. People have their own opinions. Only my wife knows how I’ve been lately, trying to think about my next path. All I’ve known is surfing. Hopefully this clears the air. Maybe this will help people form a new opinion, and if not, I don’t really f–king care. I’d rather spend my time off the computer and Twitter.
* ARE YOU CONCERNED THAT SOME OF THE THINGS WE’VE TALKED ABOUT WILL LEAD TO MORE FINES FROM THE ASP?
It might. They fined me 10 grand for J-Bay and what I said on Twitter. But if they fine me again I don’t really care. This is who I am. I say what’s on my mind. I say the truth. That’s one thing I like about myself as a person. I’ve never been one to say one thing to your face and then talk shit behind your back like 99 percent of the people in the surf industry. If I have a problem, I’ll say it to whoever, and I’ll say it to their face. I think it’s good for people to hear. All of us surfers know what time it is, but they won’t say anything. It ain’t gonna bug me if they fine me again. I’m not trying to be rich, and they can take what they want and maybe that will start change. It takes someone speaking up for things to change. Maybe it will help surfing get back on track. I just hope people understand that I still love surfing, and I love competing at certain places still, but 99 percent of the time that spark is gone. But I still love surfing and I’ll surf till the day I die. Hey, is this interview gonna be in SURFER or Surfing Magazine?
Right, I knew it was one of them. I haven’t looked at a surf magazine in years. Nothing. I can’t even remember the last time I read a magazine or watched a surf video. Half the people who come on Tour who are new, I don’t even know who they are. I haven’t seen them surf or heard their name once in my life. I just don’t follow it. And the interviews with myself, I don’t even read them. I just do my own thing.