BARREL BENDER

words: Alexei Obolensky

Jack Robinson has long been on our radar.

Well, he’s long been on everyone’s radar.

A child prodigy from WA, rocking a nearly illegal bowl cut. At home in pretty much everything but excelling in yep, you guessed it - the more spicy ends of the Western Austrian slabs. Having recently moved from the ‘Bong to the Stone, when we were informed he was in Hossegor, we decided a catch up was in order. For the full chat, you’ll have to wait until Volume VI. However we did shoot jack a few questions about his most recent escapade in WA, if you’ve seen his work at oversized chopes, you’ll know he’s the real deal. We have a feeling young Jack is only getting started….

Tell us about the Barrel Bender? Where did this clip come from?

This trip was pretty much two sessions. I surfed 6 or 7 hours. Then I broke one board, came in, went back out and then I surfed the next day for a few hours. But yeah it all happened pretty quick because there wasn’t many crew out. That long day was pretty much Indo perfection all day.

It’s always hard to judge from seeing footage, but how gnarly is that place?

When it’s big that wave is just an animal… It’s wild. It’s got all these steps in the faces that you’ve got to navigate when you’re in it. When it’s small it can get pretty playful, but when it’s bigger it just tries to kill you, I swear. I get scared out there, even if it’s not that high. I get scared everywhere pretty much but keep on doing it. Haha.

It seems like a special place for you?

Yeah it’s very special. I’ve been going up there since I was a baby pretty much! It’s an incredible place really. It’s far from everything, there’s no phone reception. The closest town is one hour and a half away… and it’s barely a town.

What’s the longest you’ve stayed up there?

I’d say a couple of weeks. You get pretty crusty after that.

What do you do on the flat days over there?

You’d probably go fishing. I’d probably be a fisherman if I wasn’t a surfer.

We’ve heard the drive was a mission. Have you got any wild stories from the road?

That town before the spot is pretty wild. It’s a fisherman town. My dad used to work there as a fisherman so every time we’d stop there when I was a kid it’d be pretty full on. I’d be waiting for him in the car at the gas station because I was petrified by the old locals living there. I was this little scared kid that was waiting in the car with a bowl haircut and a baseball bat at the time.

How was your motor handling the drive? Any wild breakout on the way?

The radiator stopped one time and we had to put 10 liters of water every 50 kilometers and we barely made it there… but generally it.s always been pretty smooth luckily.

How’s the crowd factor out there?

It’s not too bad. It’s pretty much some of the boys from the towns close by. Everyone is pretty nice in the water. Everybody takes turn. I think the wave is too heavy for it to get crowded to be honest. It’s not like Desert Point that has an accessible take off. The wave is that full on that it sorts the crowd out itself. I think in heavy waves, if you start snaking people it will bite back. You got to be careful when you surf there.

You make it look easy riding it backside- what kind of equipment are you riding there?

Basically Arakawas as I ride for them. I don’t really know what goes into them, but he makes good boards, so I’m trying to be a good pilot. I think that fear makes you think the right things in heavy waves. It does to me anyways. I always study things a lot before taking on something. I’d rather sit back and analyze it before trying to get the biggest one.

What about that session out Teahupoo before the Tahiti event the other day? How would you prepare for a day like that?

I’ve towed there once before. It was the day when Nate Florence had that big one. But I didn’t go back for any big swell and didn’t have much time to prepare or study anything. I literally showed up there in the first morning to these 25 footers coming though and I’m just like “Oh my god…”. The big ones were too big to paddle so they called the trials off. I thought it’d be easy to get hurt paddling there so we decided to get the jet ski out and give it a go. It was sucking way too much from the bottom for me to be surfing my normal board and I was teaming up with Kamalei Alexander. He was like: “Brah, I’ve got the sickest board for you!”. When I first got on it, it felt like the straps were super wide. It was pretty sketchy. We went for a 50 meter ride to get a feel for the board before getting towed into a 20-foot wave. It felt alright so we just got out there, afterwards he told me that the jet ski wasn’t able to come and rescue me because it wasn’t powerful enough. I could only clip my lifejacket because it wasn’t zipping up the whole way as most of them do now. Then I got towed in on one and felt like I was going backward on that board. It was all pretty sketchy, but somehow made it. It definitely was the scariest few seconds I had in a long time.