Elms, who qualified for Team GB after the British Cup was held at the Watersplash earlier this year alongside fellow Islander Kitty Brewer, will travel to the event in Japan, which doubles up as an Olympic qualifier – the first of it’s kind.
Surfing will be included in the Tokyo Olympics for the first time next year, and Elms hopes to be a trailblazer for young Island surfers who may be targeting a future Games.
‘This will be the biggest competition of my life,’ said Elms. ‘Im in my mid-20s and I’m at my peak.
‘It’s a massive event – it’s the qualifier for the first Olympic surfing event ever. Everybody is going to be out there pushing for a place and I’m going to be up against the likes of Kelly Slater and Gabriel Medina – those guys are world champions.’
The first eligible man and women from Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania will land an automatic qualifying spot, whereas qualification for the Americas will come from the 2019 Pan-American Games, where surfing makes another debut. The other qualification option is the World Surf League. Elms qualified for the Games after finishing in third place at the British Cup, as did Brewer.
Elms said: ‘The British Cup was amazing. With it being at home, there was so much support that came down, and it was incredible to surf with the top guys in Britain. Making the final on home turf is something I will never forget. The competition coming to Jersey was massive for me, but also massive for surfing in Jersey as a whole. All the youngsters got to see these guys surf and compete.
‘I’ve competed from a young age all over Britain, but I took a few years out for education and other things, so to come back and get these results and be in that team alongside the best in Britain – it’s an incredible feeling knowing that you have earned it and deserve to be there.
‘After the Cup and receiving the call up, all my training, diet and strength work has been geared solely towards the competition.
‘A lot has changed, it’s more focused. I’ve been building strength while maintaining flexibility, but the number one most important thing is to get in the water as much as possible.
‘You’ve got to keep surfing, get the technical aspects down and dial in the equipment.’
With surfing gaining a spot in the Olympics, and the Channel Islands becoming a recognised member of British Surfing, Elms hopes that the pair’s performances at the Games will lay the path for future generations to make it to surfing’s top level.
‘Surfing is getting more and more popular in Jersey,’ said Elms. ‘You go down and there are an extra 200 people out in the waves, so for the younger generation having someone to look up to is so important. I can think back to the guys I looked up to when I was starting out. Paving the way is so important, it shows that all the training and dedication does pay off. I hope us heading out there will do that.’
Elms admits that surfing in unfamiliar territory will be a challenge, but looks forward to testing himself against the world’s best.
He said: ‘I’ve not been out to Japan at all, but I know a few guys who have surfed the local break where the competition is so I’ve been trying to get as much information off them as possible.
‘I’ve been checking the swell reports aswell. It’s peak season for surf so I think we will get some good conditions out there. But at the end of the day it’s the sea. It could be massive or small, so I’ve got to prepare my equipment and myself for all conditions.
‘We get there three or four days early, so we will have time to prepare, learn the break and get all the equipment properly dialled in.
‘I’m super excited. I’ve been training for this for months and I feel like I’m surfing at the top of my game. It’s a competition against the best in the world, so you’ve got nothing to lose. You’ve just got to go out and give it your all. Hopefully that will be enough.’
The competition starts on 7 September, and will be live-streamed on the competition website.