Stab Magazine | Jay Davies Mightn't Be "Pro" Anymore, But We're Pretty Sure This is Some of His Best Surfing To Date

Jay Davies Mightn’t Be “Pro” Anymore, But We’re Pretty Sure This is Some of His Best Surfing To Date

Timeless surfing in perfect waves.

Words by DANNY JOHNSON

Jay Davies was a professional surfer for 15 years, but that chapter’s over now.

It’s a reflection of the times rather than Jay’s marketability or surfing ability, as there’s few surfers better to watch on celluloid. Jay’s airs and turns have long been the hallmark of big men surfing progressively, and his tube riding rivals just about anyone in the world. Still. Jay’s recently transitioned from chasing swells to working on tug boats, but, perhaps ironically, has just released a film that sees him surfing as well as we’ve seen, in waves that compliment his powerful approach perfectly. We caught up with JD to chat life, surf (100 and regular), and, well, work. 

stab mag jay davies 2

Just a large West Australian man in a large West Australian temple.

What sort of thoughts go through your mind when you try to get your head around this new phase of your life?

I’ve had mixed emotions. It’s hard to express because I’ve had it so bloody good for so long. I was really lucky. A lot of people were in my shoes for five or six years, but I had a good 15 years doing it. It’s really tough to get your head around not being able to chase waves and do the things you’re passionate about. It really fucking kind of rocks me every now and then, but every day it gets better. I’ve never had so many panic attacks when I check swell forecasts. I’ve missed so many swells.

The transition you’re going through is psycho, but because you’ve had this amazing life you’re not exactly going to get sympathy from anyone. Do you feel like you can’t really talk about it, even if it’s torturing you?

Exactly. A lot of people in my life are proud of the way I’ve jumped into it and haven’t whinged too much. I can’t whinge because I’ve had such a good life, but it’s insane on the mental space. It’s definitely eye-opening. I appreciate everything that’s gone down over the last 15 years in my surf career, that’s for sure.

stab mag jay davies 4

The smile of a man who spent 15 years being paid to surf perfect waves.

It’s not like you’ll loose your skills though, you’ll still be able to thread barrels on your days off a million times better than any other tug boat operator ever could.

I just feel like I’m a bit slower if I get back in the water after a bit of time out. I’ve got big shoulders ‘cause I’ve been stuck in the Rabbits’ rip for the past 33 years. As soon as I stopped doing that everyday I lost it pretty quick. 

Was it funny to hear Dane Reynolds’ comments on your wide shoulders and small waist while he was commentating the Surf100 event? 

He got me down to a T. I’m basically just this upside down A-frame. Tiny hips, no ass and then huge shoulders. It’s a funny shape. I’ve got the smallest legs in mankind on the longest torso of all time. Full neanderthal/silverback gorilla.

stab mag jay davies 7

Jay checking a remote right that’s as treacherous as it is perfect.

A lot of people were hoping you were going to wax the young guys in the Surf100 event and you almost did. You had the highest scoring wave at the event, did you think you had them?  

I didn’t have enough waves. I didn’t realise how many waves Jack caught. There were 35 waves caught in the whole event and he caught 18 of them. I was looking for a nugget and didn’t have my eyes on much more than that.  

Who do you think surfs better, Jack Robbo or Jacob Wilcox?

Oh god, I don’t know. Jacob Wilcox is as fine-tuned and smart as it gets, but for naturally skilled, maybe Jack takes that category. Chipo’s (Jacob Wilcox) polished act will only get better, and Jack’s so freakishly talented and has been working hard at it. I wouldn’t be able to choose, I think they’re right on par with each other.

stab mag jay davies 8

Sticker or no sticker, few float better over waves with push than JD.

How did this film come together.

I had all this footage left over because I was doing a little segment for RVCA and then that fell apart. Even though we parted ways I still really appreciate everything they gave me for the past five years. But I had all this footage in the vault and decided to do a follow up to Native.

Does it feel weird putting out such a quality clip when you don’t have a big sticker on your board anymore?

It feels weird putting out a clip in general. I always have this question in my mind, like, “Why the fuck am I doing something just on myself, why have I never gotten a crew together and done something?”

stab mag jay davies 5

JD harnessing that Indo push with trademark style.

All your flicks have such quality footage in them is that a personal preference? 

Yeah, I guess so. I don’t really film when the surf’s shit, I wouldn’t waste anyone’s time. So that’s probably why you’re not seeing much footage from onshore bashes and whatnot.  

Can we talk about Tom Jennings for a second? He’s such a master at what he does there should be some sort of award that he wins every year. What’s it like working with him? 

He’s a stubborn prick that’s for sure. He’s so articulate, smart and he researches every little detail. He reads a lot. He’s basically a genius; so singularly focused, he knows everything about every single wave, what tides, whatever. He’s a dictionary of good waves. 

He’s swimming around in freezing cold, sharky waters while hanging onto a massive camera housing. How hard is what he does?  

He can’t walk 400 metres up the beach with a camera because he’s so unfit, but get him out at a reef break for six hours and he’ll swim around all day and won’t say a word. I guess he’s built for it, he’s tall and made of rubber. That’s why he hurts on land and loves the water. He’s the most unusual character, I love him to death, but fuck he annoys the shit out of me sometimes. But he’s done so much good work for surfing in general, and he’s always looked after me.

stab mag jay davies 3

For the benefit of our international contingent, this is a “Goanna.”

There’s so many incredible pits in this film. No matter what you compare it to, sex or any other of life’s pleasures, is there anything that feels as good as getting barrelled? 

Fuck. Yeah, it’s hard to explain because it doesn’t feel like anything else. You’re inside this hole that is mesmerising and feels like slow motion, but you can never remember it. Even if you get it on film, you’re like, “Fuck, I wish I remembered that line.” Maybe that’s the reason we all want to get better and better barrels all the time, because you can never truly remember how good that feeling was. You’re just always looking for that feeling that you can’t quite can grasp.

Do you have memories of all the barrels from the film?

Nah not at all. One stands out in my head, because it was so raw. It was the most recent one I’ve had. 

Is it weird to think that you’ve ridden out of barrels 20 times better than the average surfers ever has that you can’t even remember? 

Um, it’s definitely not that weird because I think everyone is in the same boat. Right. Do you remember every barrel you’ve had?

stab mag jay davies

Tug boats won’t steal JD’s stoke.

No, but I remember snapshots from all the decent ones I’ve had. I just freaked out watching how many you get in this and thinking, “There’s no way he remembers even half of these.”

The feeling I get from just a good day of getting chewed is like the most satisfying feeling in the world. There’s no better feeling. I could go surf and do 10 turns a wave on the most repeatable wall in the world, but it still wouldn’t feel as good as just like pulling into tubes all day.

And how old do you think you’ll be when you lose your barrel stance?

Fuck, I hope never if I look after myself. I don’t think I’ll lose it. You’ve just got to be fit and healthy and do the right things for the old rig, then I reckon you’ll be able to thread the pit forever. 

Will you read the comments under this video when it comes out?

Yeah. I don’t mind comments, keep them coming and let me know what you think. I’ve been pretty lucky in my career, I’ve had people give me good feedback.

Final thoughts on the film? 

I’d just like to thank everyone that worked on the film, and my family, my girlfriend and brother. My brother’s always worked on my films with me and helped me out with everything. He sat down and produced this with me and Tom. Creatures Of Leisure and Otis for supporting it and all the other people that have worked on it. Other than that I just hope everyone enjoys it.

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