Jack Freestone landed himself a 10-page profile in our March 2013 issue. Along the way we spoke to some sterling folks about the Coolangatta Kid, and one of them was Kai Neville, in a café on the Gold Coast, while watching a replay of Jack's career heat to this point, his semi-final at the World Juniors in Bali last fall. Here's the transcript:
Background audiovisual: Oakley World Pro Junior Championship, semifinal two, Jack Freestone versus Ramzi Boukhiam at Keramas, Bali.
CHRIS BINNS: Let's talk Dear Suburbia. Was Jack meant to be on the Indo boat trip with you guys?
KAI: No, he replaced Julian, who tweaked his ankle and couldn't come. I emailed Jack and he'd already been in Indo for a couple of weeks. And while some guys might wanna bail and go home, Jack was keen to stick around, even though he was meant to be buying a house. So I grabbed all his paperwork and shit off his mum before I flew out, and Jack and I met in Padang and signed all these documents and faxed them off at the hotel, then we got on the boat and we were on our way. He was so calm despite how crazy it all could have been.
Did you know much about him before that trip?
I'd started to see more and more of him, then you hear things from guys who've been travelling with him, who I think are really good judges of surfers and potential. Like Mitch Coleborn and those sorts of folk, if they say, "Oh yeah, he's good," then that guy's got my attention. Jack had just done a little trip down the coast here in Oz, to Yamba with one of our filmers and Evan Geiselman and Dillon Perillo. Even though they got shitty waves Jack was ripping and bagged the most stuff, and the footage was cool. He was wearing a springsuit the whole time so I was like, "What are you doing in your fluoro wettie?"
...he's always wearing neon yellow and has super bright sprays on his board.
Totally! Then Julian pulled out of the Indo trip and we didn't know who to bring, but I wanted a fresh face. It's funny, putting someone on a trip with Dane and Taj...
AV: Jack takes off on a one-foot right, races down the line, lands a slob wheelie. Opens his account with a 4.5.
... ooh, not bad. Anyway, if you're going to throw someone new into that level of talent you want to make sure they're ready, otherwise if the others blow them out of the water it's not really fair on the surfer, and doesn't help the movie. But if it goes the other way, and the dude gets the content and is a total surprise packet, it's a huge bonus. And that's exactly what happened when we injected Freestone in the mix. On day one Kolohe, Dane and Taj were like, "This guy's gnarly, he's way more consistent than all of us!"
AV: Jack takes off on a two-foot wall, tags it once then throws a big fin blast to reverse. Nine points.
Woah, that was gnarly. It was pretty sick, but he kinda held on to the grab till the death. He could have come out of that way cleaner but I guess he's in a heat. Maybe the claim, I'd cut that out if I was gonna run it. He does that a lot, even on trips sometimes. I think he surprises himself with some of the stuff he pulls.
How does a guy Jack's size have such a consistent stomp rate?
He reminds me of Jordy when he does his airs. He puts himself in the craziest positions, out on the flats and stuff, and somehow it still looks smooth.
AV: Jack catches his third wave, scores a 7.83 for back-to-back air reverses, the first a slob, the second hands free. Cutaway shot of Ramzi Boukhiam, yet to catch a wave.
This guy's having a great time... Keramas is the sickest wave! This is what happens when comps are run in waves that are performance based. As if guys aren’t gonna light it up!
How do you choose who you film?
Well, you want the best surfers, but you also want the guys who gel, who are gonna have a few beers at night and not get eggy. Obviously guys who are going to be exciting on film, but also get along with everyone...
AV: Yet again, Jack is racing down a wave and launches a huge, full rotation slob: 9.53. Twelve minutes gone in the heat.
That was good. Woah. Those stand-talls though, I swear the younger guys feel like they have to claim now. You watch a 'CT and Julian and Kolohe and all those guys, it's like they think they'll lose points if they don't. And they'll admit it.
Did Dane know who Jack was before the trip?
Yeah definitely, I just doubt they'd ever surfed together before. Same with Taj. But gauging by watching the footage, I think everyone was pretty pumped. Well, half were pumped, and half were not-so-pumped.
AV: On a one-foot wave Jack throws away a 5.50 for another stalefish air-rev. Ramzi sits with priority, outrageously comboed, waveless, wondering what the fuck is going on.
Just a little staley on the inside, no worries.
AV: An instant later Jack spins again on another insider, stands on his tail waiting for the end bowl, then releases a wild slob/stalefish air reverse, spun lightning quick. It's his second perfect 10of the comp.
Wow. That was so gnarly. What was that?
He calls it a Hippie Flip. Matt Meola does a super corked out version, Jack's is flatter and quicker.
That was so smooth. That was tweaked. He's got that down. The way he let go early, then stomped it, that's sick. I think he did his first one in France. I remember Coleborn and Dion saying he started talking about them, then pulled a crazy one almost straight away. It shows you the level of a guy's ability when he gets something stuck in his head, and can then go out and pull it that easily. That was nuts. Wonder what that would have got in a 'CT? Like, it's still a small wave, do they give that a 10?
AV: The commentators are losing it. They don't know what Jack just did, and a million replays aren't helping. Jack has 19.53 with 10 minutes to go, and his opponent still hasn't caught a wave. Later that day the head judge would describe what just happened as "one of the best displays of technical aerial surfing in one heat in ASP history". I close my laptop.
Let's put Ramzi out of his misery.
That was heavy.
Jack’s run at the Oakley Pro Junior