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Episode 07: Josh Kerr

LIFE ON TOUR  

It’s 9 AM in the Kerr household and Australian-born surfer Josh Kerr is sitting at the kitchen table, drinking coffee from his “I’M THE BOSS” mug and feeding the family Pomeranian, Aspen, it’s favorite treats: carrots and lettuce. “It’s seriously her favorite things to eat,” Josh says in Aussie accent. Nikki, Josh’s wife, laughs and puts down her more apropos “I’M REALLY THE BOSS” coffee mug. “Are you a rabbit, Aspen?” she says to the little white barking ball of fur on the kitchen floor.

When you’re a professional surfing star like Kerr, or Kerrzy as he’s known within the sport, your life tends to be considered different than to the rest of the population, canine-identity crisis and all. “We’re like a gypsy family,” Kerr admits. “The sport of surfing has allowed me to travel the world with family and it’s a dream come true.”

Kerr, 34, was a nine-year veteran of the Championship Tour in the World Surf League before announcing his retirement last year. Going from a schedule of ten months of chasing waves across the world to becoming a full-time dad still takes getting used to. “People think retiring from surf means I’ll just be living the Tommy Bahama life of just relaxing. It just means I’m no longer chasing events around the world on tour.”

Kerr, born in New South Wales, Australia, was introduced to surfing at an early age, as his father was a local board shaper. At the age of seven, Kerr took to boogie boarding and soon graduated to surfing at the age of nine, when his father presented him with his first board. He soon started dominating the junior circuit down under and gaining sponsorships. Soon, Kerr discovered the world of aerial surfing, taking second place in his first air show event. By 2003, Kerr had honed his skills and had become a two-time world airshow champion.

“Aerial surfing is suited for guys who are either super creative or super competitive and sometimes that approach doesn’t fit with the regular tour,” Kerr says. As the popularity of air shows started to wane in the 00s and the more traditional World Surf League grew, Kerr was forced to focus more on the standard events, especially to make a living. “I held my own for the last ten years, but my passion will always be with the air shows.”

That passion is one reason why Kerr decided to hang up his rash guard and start promoting the new air shows within the World Surf League and revitalizing the style he loves. “The young surfers these days are incredible, and I want to see them be able to push themselves with air shows,” Kerr proudly states. “To me, it’s more about giving kids these days the opportunities I had to express myself.”

Kerr’s may have been a surprise to the world of surf and his fans, but not to his wife and children, Colin (18) and Sierra (11). “I had started noticing my kids were getting their own identities…that was the catalyst that I needed to spend more time at home,” Kerr remembers vividly. “Surfing has given me the chance to build a family and live a life I could never dream of but I was going into heats no longer nervous, no longer passionate about winning. I was constantly missing my family.”

josh-kerr
One of Kerr’s crowning achievements won’t be found in surf magazines or on his trophy case. “He never missed one of the kids’ birthdays, my birthday or our anniversary,” says Nikki. Kerr expects to keep his streak up, even while juggling his efforts in promoting air shows, among his other ventures, including his own Balter Brewing Company in Australia.

“My new life has a lot of different elements. I’m still adapting to it. It’s a new challenge and it’s keeping me busy. I’m not the kind of guy who likes to sit and relax.” Of course, unless he’s at home with feeding vegetables to the family dog.

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