Watch: The Evolution of Jake Marshall, in "Redline"
Destined to be Southern California's Next Big Thing, Jake Marshall’s left figuring out what's, well... next.
Jake Marshall’s been on a lot of people’s radar for a good, long while now. And up until recently, everything was going more or less to plan. Until it wasn’t.
The problems began when the age cutoff for pro junior events dropped from 20 to 18. Call it the “Gabriel Medina Effect” if you will. All of a sudden there were kids like Medina, who were already on the world tour, surfing down in the World Juniors. Teen over-achievers Ethan Ewing, Kanoa Igarashi and Leo Fioravanti offer similar examples.
“I know why they changed the age because guys like Gabriel are coming back from the world tour to do the world juniors, which is kind of frustrating if you’re a junior and you’re surfing against Gabriel. You’re kind of like ‘woah!’ It’s not that fun,” explains Marshall.
In 2016, Marshall resigned himself to grinding through both the WSL Pro Junior and QS schedules. In 2017, he committed full-time to the QS. Working his way up the ratings, he found his campaign derailed by injuries.
“And all of these guys are big and strong, like men, and they’ve been on the QS for like ten years," says Jake Marshall. "Everyone wants it just as bad as you. From Round 1 on, you have to be on your game or you’re going home.”
“This year was kind of a rough one for me for injuries, definitely. I don’t really want to do that again,” says Marshall. “I broke my foot to start the year, which sort of sucked. I surfed the World Juniors, my foot was better, but not really feeling that confident…which seemed like pretty much the story to my whole year. I surfed the entire year injured. Almost all the events I surfed in I was bouncing back from injury, so I would have been in the water for only a few days before the event started. I’m not going to make excuses for why I didn’t do well in a lot of the events, but at the same time, it was maybe more of a mental thing than a physical thing.”
A couple bouts of Staph and dislocating his shoulder, not once, not twice, but three times, added to the anguish.
“It started in April and not I’ve had surgery on it and am out of the water until January. I got it to feel pretty good, then I went to Chile for a three-star. We were surfing this slab kind of wave and I slammed onto the reef really hard,” explains Marshall. “It felt like I hit the reef it was going to come out, regardless, so I was kind of bummed about that. When I got home a couple people told me I should get the surgery because this was just going to keep happening.”
Marshall opted not to get surgery and instead kept surfing. With a long run of events on his schedule, he opted for rehabbing the injury and making do with what he had. But alas, a man can only fly on a busted wing for so long.
“It was fine all the way until the Prime in Portugal,” he admits. “The waves got pretty good before the event and I was surfing a pretty solid, barreling wave. I went over the falls and it came out again. I tried to surf the Prime, but it didn’t really work out so well.”
“This year was kind of a rough one for me for injuries, definitely. I don’t really want to do that again." - Jake Marshall.
Resigned to his fate, after Portugal, Marshall headed home to Encinitas to have his shoulder operated on. He’ll now miss his second Hawaii season in a row as he takes his time recovering and hitting the reset button. A year into QS life, Marshall admits life amongst the wolves was a bit of an eye-opener.
“Going through the whole amateur ranks you think you’re just going to get on the QS, make a ton of heats and it’s not going to be that hard. Then you get on the QS and you realize that everyone rips and everyone can surf a heat. You don’t really ever come up against guys where you think it’s an easy heat. Everyone know how to surf,” he says. “And all of these guys are big and strong, like men, and they’ve been on the QS for like ten years. Everyone wants it just as bad as you. From Round 1 on, you have to be on your game or you’re going home.”
“You can get lost on the QS. You see so many gnarly guys that don’t have sponsors, and it really makes you appreciate what you’ve had your whole career. A lot of guys rip and make a lot of heats, they’re in the Top 30 consistently, and they still don’t have a sticker on their board. It’s pretty crazy,” adds Marshall.
He’ll spend the rest of ’17 at the physical therapist office, but Marshall’s already setting his sights on next year.
“I’d like to be back in time to do the Pipe Pro,” he says. “But we’ll see, the most important thing is to get back to 100 percent and see where we go from there.”
"I’m not going to make excuses for why I didn’t do well in a lot of the events, but at the same time, it was maybe more of a mental thing than a physical thing.” - Jake Marshall