Jake Marshall Just Got Owned by El Gringo
And we’ve got the clip to prove it!
Eleven years ago, while the surf industry was happily riding the coattails of PacSun and Zumiez, Rip Curl brought its annual Search event to a small coastal village in Arica, Chile.
Through this event, the surfing community learned that Arica is home to an incredible A-frame peak — one with a comically misleading name.
As the story goes, the spot was called ‘El Gringo’ after one brave American rode the first wave there several decades ago. Despite the fact that El Gringo is one of the most consistent and quality slabs across the Americas, crowds remain relatively low. For this, we can probably thank the region’s perma-grey skies and the wave’s inherent fear factor.
Over the past several years, a low-ranking QS event has been held on the 200-meter-wide island overlooking El Gringo. It’s frequented by a number of Tour-hopefuls, but the majority of competitors are tube pigs looking for an empty lineup and a platform to prove themselves. For reference, this year’s guest list included Balaram Stack, Gabriel Villaran, Danny Fuller, and Nic Von Rupp.
Alas, 3,000 points is nothing to scoff at; especially when you’re a teenager trying to break into the top-100 of the QS rankings. That’s how California’s Jake Marshall found himself charging no-hand pits for points.
Pre-injury, no-grab glory. At least Jake’s got one positive memory to take home from Chile. Photo: WSL / Rodrigo Farias Moreno
In Round three, Heat eight, Jake found himself on the sour end of a priority squabble, leading to a brief but meaningful collision with the reef. We asked him about the whole ordeal:
Stab: What drew you to this event? The points or the wave itself?
Jake Marshall: Probably a combination of both. I’m trying to get a better seed on the QS, so these 3,000 events can help put me in a good position at the end of the year with a few solid results. That said, you’re always more psyched to enter an event when you know you’re gonna get tubed.
I remember when the CT guys surfed El Gringo for a Search event (see that here) — a lot of them were pretty rattled by the joint. Do you find the wave intimidating?
It’s definitely a little sketchy, especially on the inside where the wave gets really shallow. Really fun spot though.
And by the look of things, you found out firsthand just how shallow the wave is. What happened in your Round 3 heat?
Everybody in my heat had caught a wave except for Marco Giorgi. So Marco was sitting out the back with priority, and then he half-paddled for this little wave. It was debatable whether or not he made an effort to catch it, but the judges switched priority over to me. Then a set wave came, and I don’t think he knew that the priority had switched. We were both paddling, and I knew I had priority, so I was for sure gonna go. We both took off and ended up bumping rails a few times, which put me off balance and set me directly in line with the lip. The wave drove me straight to the bottom where I hit the reef with my shoulder.
Shit! What happened from there?
I got taken to a local hospital, where the doctors ran a few X-Rays on me. Once they determined I hadn’t broken anything, they popped my shoulder back in, which hurt way worse than when I dislocated it in the first place. It was probably an 8 out of 10 in terms pain.
What’s the recovery process like for this sorta thing?
If it’s just dislocated, I should only be out for a few weeks, but if I happened to tear some ligaments and need to get surgery I’ll be out for a while. I’ve gotta fly home and see my doctors before I know anything for sure. I’ve got my fingers crossed.
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