Unlocked: Don't Miss The Last Wave Of The First SEOTY Entry - Stab Mag
“You go up in winter, it's a pretty special place. Mum showed me a picture the other day, I think I was like six months old or something, and I'm just sitting on her lap in their Troopy. It made me realized 'Fuck, I’ve been there every season for the past 25 years'. When I was in year six, we lived up there for about six months, dad worked at the station and I'd be sitting in a caravan doing homework faced directly towards the waves. My parents always said, ‘You've got to finish your homework, then you can go surfing.’ Which was agonizing. There’s a ton of natural beauty up there and not having a working phone is epic. I'll go surfing a few times a day, fish or snorkel when the tides come, make fires, cook, have a beer. It’s super simple but it's pretty nice. I definitely miss it when I'm over here on the Goldie amongst the rat race”, says Jacob. Frame: Tom Jennings

Unlocked: Don’t Miss The Last Wave Of The First SEOTY Entry

Jacob Willcox’s ‘Into Dust’ is free for all.

cinema // Apr 3, 2023
Words by Ethan Davis
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Last time Stab spoke with Jacob he was two events away from CT qualification, sitting in eleventh place on the CS rankings. It was his second time on the brink of qualifying after his run in 2019 where Kelly Slater took off with 10 seconds on the clock at Haleiwa – on a 5’4” boogie-board-looking thing, did one turn and got the required 6.50 to doom his hopes of a tour start. In 2022, he finished twelfth, once again an eighth of a bees-dick short.

‘Chippo’ as his friends know him as — a nickname that came about as a result of mispronouncing his name as an infant, isn’t salty as you might expect. Now residing on the Gold Coast, 4,555 kms east of where he grew up in Margaret River, he views his near-makes as expensive lessons. “I calculated it and it was $40,000 for the Challenger Series last year. That’s bunkering with six other mates at each event. Thank fuck Rip Curl sponsor me because it would have been impossible holding down a full-time job,” says Jacob, who calls me from his “real bogan” red Holden Crewman Ute on his way back from the DHD headquarters. He puts in shifts there to make ends meet. “Yeah, I actually enjoy hanging out there packing boxes. I definitely haven’t punched my board in a while after seeing what goes into it,” he laughs.

Jacob explains that doing the CS is “a serious undertaking but the importance of having fun is such a big lesson in life. Like, you do the Challenger and you don’t qualify a few years in a row, and you get to a point where you’re like, ‘Fuck this, I’m not where I want to be,’ and then you get a little bit down. As cliche as it sounds I had to just remind myself, ‘Why do I surf?’ And the short answer to that is because it’s fun and enjoyable and it’s what I’m good at. I feel like I’ve re-discovered that enjoyment in my surfing and within myself. I feel like this could be the year for me with a bit of luck”.

The following edit, ‘Into Dust’ is the first SEOTY entry of 2023. “It’s called ‘Into Dust’ because I had a harddrive of clips sitting around turning into dust. I’d love to make something better, it’s just hard when you’re on the road constantly competing.” Needless to say, Jacob doesn’t have the luxury afforded to many freesurfers who aren’t constrained to making surf films in between competing. “This is what I got from ten or so surfs. Freesurfers, surely you can come up with something more impressive,” he cacks.

Speaking of which, Jacob is part of a remarkable generation of West Australian surfers (of both the competitive and freesurf variety) including Jack Robinson, Creed McTaggart, Shaun Manners and Kael Walsh – I asked for his analysis of why WA’s talent pool runs so deep.

“West Oz has such good waves. There’s always swell and there’s waves that are good for airs and turns and slabs wherever you want them — you’re spoiled over there. On top of that, we were constantly pushing each other. It’s funny because Creed was such a gnarly competitor when he was younger, as was Shaun. I feel like all those lads have got that competitive drive that they channel that into their freesurfing. Freesurfing is not like you just rock up and go slap a few airs, and if you don’t make them, whatever. Those guys are taking it fuckin pretty serious as well,” he chuckles. 

And Robbo?

“I’m so proud of how well Jack’s doing. I know how much sacrifice and effort it takes to get to that point, so I really admire him to tell you the truth. It’s inspiring for me as well ’cause that’s someone that I’ve competed against my whole life and surfed with so much. Jack’s just grown into his own man now. Every time I ever see him it’s super nice and because we’ve both been living over here on the Gold Coast as well, I get to see him quite a bit, so that’s fun.”


Jacob’s not putting a timestamp on his career. “I will pretty much keep doing it until the funds say no. I feel like I’ve been putting in a lot of work to improve myself and improve my surfing, so I think at least if it doesn’t happen in these next couple of years, then I’ll be like, “Fuck, I gave it my all.” That’s probably another big reason that I’m over here in the Gold Coast. I’m giving myself 100% the best chance I can have of qualifying. I don’t want to be that guy that’s fucking sitting at the pub in 10 years or 20 years going, ‘I could’ve done that’. At least I know. Honestly, I believe my best years are still to come. Some people might not agree but they can get fucked. I reckon I’m coming into my prime with everything,” he laughs. 

Plenty of dog in the fight. 

Reckon you’ve got Chippo covered? Read the 2023 SEOTY guidelines here.


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