Stab Magazine | Culture Shifters: Justin Jay
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Culture Shifters: Justin Jay

Standing on the balcony of a North Shore duplex while Justin Jay analyses the scenes on the Pipeline sand, then navigate it like a bull ant, is watching an artist’s stroke in photo-journalism. With most lenses pointed to the horizon and the activities within its big blue, Justin is ducking and weaving between elbows and […]

style // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Standing on the balcony of a North Shore duplex while Justin Jay analyses the scenes on the Pipeline sand, then navigate it like a bull ant, is watching an artist’s stroke in photo-journalism. With most lenses pointed to the horizon and the activities within its big blue, Justin is ducking and weaving between elbows and over heads, capturing sublime moments of surfing’s most exclusive corner. It’s an uncanny skill, a) to have their trust, and b) to be thick-skinned enough when your lens is met with turned backs. But the reward is a very personal and intimate scene. Ironically, it’s his disengagement from this surfing game which gifts him such keys. See, Justin’s usually shooting, I dunno, like, real celebs. Diddy, Jay-Z, Lebron, Kobe, and the rest. But now, do bask in the North Shore scratch journal of Justin Jay for Stab.

All photos and captions by Justin Jay (follow him on IG here)

1. The strangest trans-generational couplings in surfing, Surfer Poll. (Above)
Stories that depict the intersecting trajectories of an elder master and a promising young pupil are some of the oldest narratives around. From Shakespeare to Star Wars, it’s an an age-old dynamic. The 2014 season ended with John John Florence snatching the pebble from Kelly’s hand by winning Surfer of the Year. A few weeks later he would defeat Kelly comfortably in the finals of the Volcom Pipe Pro. Despite being old enough to be John John’s father, Slater continues to redefine what is possible on a surfboard. He’s been able to forestall the aging process like a sorcerer, but eventually everyone loses the battle against time. Are these losses to John John simply isolated incidents or a harbinger of an inevitable transfer of power?

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2. Bullseye, Mom John’s.
“By surf standards, John John Florence is rich,” says Justin. “When most people get their first cheque with plenty of zeros, they either buy a house on the hill, a gated mansion behind a hedge, or an anonymous penthouse. John John simply moved a quarter mile west of this modest house that he grew up in. He didn’t stray far. But why would he? It’s in front of a barrel mecca. His mum still lives in this house though – she’s got a little more breathing room without the three boys living under one roof. But this house is still home for John John in many ways. Champions are made with the support of trustworthy friends, a loving family and a keen sense of priorities. He’s got all three. After watching him in surf that’d make most men shudder, John John casually paddled in and proceeded to hit three bulls-eyes in a row before his hair was even dry. Whatever Hurley is giving him, in my opinion, they got a steal.”

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3. Gabriel, his mother and sister pray for a Fanning slip.
Before Medina actually clinched the title, there were several scenarios where he almost had the points necessary to win it. Mick was the last contender to stand in his way. The whole Medina family had gathered backstage to watch the Fanning heat on TV. The clock was running down and Mick needed a solid score. In the waning seconds of the heat, Mick snagged a gem – but was it enough? Gabe knew the answer well before the score actually dropped. His face spoke volumes. For the past two weeks, Medina and Mick had been sleeping under the same roof at the Rip Curl house. He knew what Mick was capable of. When the score was finally announced, the rest of the Medina camp gasped in disappointment. Gabe remained focused and unflustered. He calmly stood up and began the five minute walk back to his house. He knew he hadn’t earned it yet.

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4. Kelly combustion at the Volcom house.
Watching Kelly come up short in clutch situations is disconcerting. It’s unexpected. It’s jarring and out of context – like running into your third grade teacher at the supermarket. Despite the insurmountable mathematics of last year’s world title race, part of me expected Kelly to actually pull off a miracle. Shortly after his defeat, I caught him and Dusty Payne commiserating on their losses. From his third story balcony at the Volcom House, Dusty described his heartbreaking heat loss while Kelly pantomimed the frustration of watching a particular set wave that he missed.

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5. Viva Medina, Pipeline.
When the announcement was made that Medina had one the world title, the beach went wild. It was utter pandemonium. Amid the cheers, tears and congratulations, Medina was chaired up the beach through the chaotic crowd. Security struggled to maintain order as the Medina camp slowly made their way to the competitor’s area. Gabriel eventually climbed onto a raised platform where he gave an interview on the live ASP feed. Meanwhile, 20 yards away, I spotted a jersey-clad Josh Kerr struggling to navigate through the hordes of fans in order to reach the water. Kerrzy might as well have been an anonymous tourist – the crowd simply wouldn’t budge to let him start his heat. The entire beach had apparently forgot about the fact that the Pipe Masters contest was still going on. Even more bizarre, Medina was actually supposed to be surfing in a heat at that exact moment. As the clock continued to wind down, Medina eventually sauntered back into the lineup where there was a lone competitor for his heat. Despite missing the majority of his heat, Medina still posted a solid score and advanced to the next round. I can’t decide whether his decision to celebrate and give interviews during a live heat was cavalier and completely reckless, or if it was the most gangster thing I’ve ever witnessed in a surf contest.

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