A Giant Comeback Story, Literally.
Andrew Jacobson’s back like he never left.
Big trees fall hard.
Andrew Jacobson knows this all too well. The 6-foot-4-inch Los Angelino occupies rare air in the bio-diverse world of surfing. It’s often assumed in our sport that as height increases, probability of high quality skill development decreases. For reference, Owen Wright and Jordy Smith are the tallest on tour, both standing at 6’3. Andrew has used what his momma gave him to surf incredibly scary waves, which brings us to the above edit.
Roughly two-and-a-half years ago, Andrew suffered one of the most gruesome surfing-induced knee injuries we’ve seen out at Cloudbreak. A large goofy foot in even larger left barrels, Andrew was in his element, that is until he went a bit too late on an inside double-up, resulting in the below image.
After surfacing and realizing that his knee was essentially facing the wrong direction, Andrew made the long journey home to Los Angeles. With multiple surgeons scratching their heads as to what to do, Andrew’s knight-in-shining-coconut-products, Mr. Laird Hamilton himself, came to his rescue sliding Drew into one of the world’s top knee specialists.
It’s been a long road to recovery for mid-20s surfer. But we’re happy to see that he’s back and better than ever in this reconstructed (knee) edit with good friend and filmer Hunter Martinez.
We gave Andrew a ring to discuss his recovery, what boards big guys ride, and how he feels about Cloudbreak.
Stab: So it’s been two and a half years since your injury, I know you tore pretty much everything in your knee but remind me, what was the exact diagnosis?
Andrew: Yep. I pretty much became one with the lip on the wipeout. The force of the wave dislocated my knee and pushed my foot backwards. The officially diagnosis was a torn MCL, torn PCL, fractured kneecap and strained ACL and LCL. They stitched together my PCL, but had to use a cadaver to piece together my MCL. Hopefully the person whose knee I received was a beast!
And how long was it before you were cleared to surf?
It was 7 months before I could start getting back into it, but that really mellow surfing. It took over a year to feel comfortable surfing swells in California, and then it was 17 months when I was back in Hawaii which you see in the video.
I see you’re rocking a knee brace at the beginning of the clip, was there any trepidation in that first session back in solid waves?
Yes, Silverbacks is one of the heaviest and trickiest waves I’ve ever surfed, especially backside. I was really worried about tweaking my knee again, but it was too good not to give it a go.
I wanted to ask about that Silverbacks session actually. Tell me about that opening wave where you get clamped, that one had to hurt.
(Laughs) Yeah it did. My impact vest (which was tied to my trunks) got ripped over my face, so it made it hard to swim up. My knee brace got entirely ripped off as well, which was probably the worst part of the moment. I was tripping that I didn’t have it for the rest of my trip, but I guess it was meant to be. That actually gave me the opportunity to start surfing without it and not having to rely on it, although in those first few sessions I felt naked.
So you’re 6’4. I see you’re on a Weirdo Ripper as well as some standard CI’s. For the bigger guys out there, what’s your standard shortboard size as well as your standard groveler?
I was on the Rocket Wide, Flyer and Fever in pretty much the whole edit. My dims for each are:
Rocket Wide: 5’10 x 19 3/4 x 2 9/16
Flyer: 6’0 x 19 1/2 x 2 9/16
Fever: 6’2 x 2 1/2 x 19 5/16 Fever
I’ve found any bigger shortboard in waves head high and under gets a little sticky. It’s hard to fit it where you want for the big guys.
You have some east coast clips in this edit. In terms of waves, if you had to pick between So-Cal or the Northeast, which would you choose and why?
I would have to say So-cal just because it’s more consistent all year round. I do love surfing over on the East Coast and hanging with my friends from back there when it’s on. When it gets good over there it’s real hard to beat.
Any plans on heading back to Fiji?
Definitely, I want to get that monkey off my back. I was going to go this summer but then the world shut down. Whenever I can get back over there, I’m going to go.
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