Stab Magazine | Between A Rock And A Hard Place (To Leave)
258 Views

Between A Rock And A Hard Place (To Leave)

Jacob Willcox on why the waves of Western Australia have been his biggest blessing, but also a curse. 

style // Oct 13, 2017
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Jacob Willcox is a name you should know. At 16 years old, he took down Kelly Slater at the Rip Curl Pro Portugal on the strength of a deep lefthand tube. Over his following teen years, Jacob defeated other top-CTers through local and sponsor wildcards. Today, at 20 years old, Jacob is one of the best forehand barrel riders in the world, which can be largely contributed to his wave-rich homeland of Western Australia.

But while the waves of WA have shaped Jacob into a virtuoso of the tube (and the backside rotation), the consistency of excellent surf may have put him behind the curve in terms of “grovelling” abilities. Also known as QS surfing. 

Despite the fact that Jacob has consistently won heats against top seeds in CT events, he’s had difficulty competing against his “peers” on the QS. At the moment, Jacob sits 97th on the overall rankings and has no major results in 2017. He’s currently waiting to find out if he’ll make the cut for the Prime events in Hawaii this November. I’m no dietician, but the numbers aren’t looking very favorable for Mr. Willcox.

On the bright side, Jacob just released a clip called Filf (below), which was filmed in WA and blows the doors off any barrel-heavy clip we’ve seen of late. We caught up with Jacob to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of growing up in West Oz. 

Filf, by Jacob Willcox and Isaac Jones

Stab: We’re really stoked on your new clip Filf, but we know that you have more pressing concerns at the moment… Namely your ranking on the QS. 
Yeah, I’ve had a rough year on the contest circuit. My main focus is the QS, but when I’m on a break it’s so good to come home and hit the refresh button… to surf good waves and remember why you’re doing this in the first place. Sometimes on the QS it can restrict how you surf. If you’re just surfing kinda cruddy, average waves all the time you start to lose the plot. I guess everyone has to do it, though.

I know you’ve been a wildcard in a few CT events, and you’ve actually made a number of heats over the years… So you’ve shown that you’re able to compete at the highest level, yet it seems you’re struggling a little more on the mid-level.
Yeah fully [laughs]. I’ve been pretty lucky to get those opportunities on the CT, but then it’s just such a tease. Like I get a little taste but then I’m back on the Quey. I don’t know, sometimes a person can do that and get so much confidence and just go crush it on the QS, but it hasn’t happened for me yet. 

You’re arguably one of the best forehand barrel riders in the world. How does it make you feel to lose to guys who rip in one-foot slop, but who you’d destroy in real waves?
[laughs] The waves at home are so good and powerful, so I can feel like I’m surfing amazing at home, but then I go to the next Quey stop and have my first surf and it’s like, “Where’s the wave? It’s not pushing me.” And then I get beaten by guys who it feels like I surf better than, but they’re smoking me in two foot waves. It definitely takes a little blow to the confidence, but everyone that’s on the CT has had to learn how to deal with the crappy waves on the QS, and everyone that’s on the QS has to surf the same stuff. 

Screen Shot 2017 10 12 at 5.07.18 PM

A necktan like that deserves better than a Dunphy-Garland sandwich. Photo: WSL

When you’r home, do you ever force yourself to avoid good waves to surf shittier ones? Just to practice in waves you might encounter on the QS?
Yeah, I hate saying that, but yeah I do surf shitty waves sometimes just to get ready for competitions. It’s hard sometimes, but even the shitty waves in WA have so much power, so it’s kinda hard to even relate them to the waves we get on the QS.

You’re 20 now. What’s your theoretical timeline for making the tour?
Well I’d love to have done it this year, but I don’t know, as soon as possible would be nice… But there’s probably 100 people on the QS who are thinking exactly the same thing so, you’ve just gotta make sure you’re better than them and try to get there.

We’ve heard from sources in WA that when the waves are good, you’re kind of a maddog in the lineup… that you like to get a lot of waves. Is that true?
What? So you’re saying I’m a prick? [laughs] Nah, I’m joking. But if there’s a bunch of people out there, I feel like it kinda sucks when people aren’t taking turns. I don’t really like to go about it that way but, when the waves are good and you have a crew that wants to take turns, I’ll sit out there and wait until it’s my wave, and if someone who hasn’t been waiting tries to snake ya, then I’ll go the wave. That kinda sounds dicky but, it’s just kinda how it rolls. 

Screen Shot 2017 10 12 at 5.13.24 PM

Jacob’s lying. He gets way more of these than any kid should. Framegrab: Filf

Do you still get scared by the waves in WA? You look super comfortable but these waves are no joke.
Yeah for sure. When you don’t have any fear you can get really hurt, but you don’t wanna have too much fear or you probably won’t catch any waves at all. So it’s kinda just finding that balance where you’re confident but not so confident that you’re doing silly stuff where you’re gonna hurt yourself. The waves I surf at home definitely scare me still, especially The Box, and up north at Gnarloo is probably the scariest. I’ve seen so many people come in with blood all over their faces, getting helped up the stairs or whatever. But when you do get a good one, it’s that much more rewarding. So it’s the scariest wave and my favorite wave in WA. 

Is the dream to get one like Camel’s?
Ahhh Camel’s one, that thing was crazy, hey? Where he got that wave from, only a handful of people have done it. He’s taking off about 200 meters up the reef from the normal takeoff zone, and there’s a real kinda deep section between it, so you just have to pick the biggest one you can and start racing. From what they must see it must look like the biggest closeout. You’ve gotta have some big balls to take one from up there. 

Have you been anywhere that rivals WA’s wave quality?
I’m probably a little biased, but I don’t know… I haven’t done a lot of surf trips to surf good waves. I’ve kinda done them to do QS events, and most of the places we go for those don’t have the best waves so… there’s probably a lot of places that have better waves than here, but I think the best part about home is that when I come home from being away, it might only be for a couple of weeks, but you always get one or two good sessions in. It’s quite consistent.

 

 

Comments

Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up

Advertisement

Most Recent

12:31

You’re Gonna Click On An Oscar Lungburne Video

Style that can't be denied.

Sep 29, 2022

Long Read: An Angel At My Table

From Stab Issue 15, October 2006: Chris Davidson has one more shot at the big…

Sep 28, 2022

5:07

Watch: Kalani David’s Last Dance

A final surf part from the Hawaiian surf/skate prodigy.

Sep 28, 2022

Taylor Steele Won’t Let Surf Filmmaking Die Without a Fight

Movies shown, filmmaking advice, punk rock at the 2022 Solento Surf Festival.

Sep 28, 2022

Wait, Are We Going To See Moana Jones In The Olympics At Teahupo’o?

Team USA (women) and Japan (men) should be able to choose anyone they want to…

Sep 27, 2022

Donald Brink and Matt Biolos Win Mick Fanning’s Electric Acid Surfboard Test

And we had a party in Oceanside to celebrate.

Sep 26, 2022

Kanoa Igarashi and Kirra Pinkerton Answer Call Of Duty, Win Medals Of Honor In 2022 ISA World Games

Teams Japan, USA, and France move into Victor’s Village.

Sep 26, 2022

The Best Euro Surf Trips That Mightn’t Be On Your Radar

Want to know which less-trodden nation offers the most potential?

Sep 26, 2022

Former CT Surfer Chris Davidson Passes Away At Age 45

A radical life tragically ends outside a bar in New South Wales.

Sep 25, 2022

Where You Should Be In Europe Right Now

An overview of the region's greatest hits.

Sep 25, 2022

The Team Ukraine Interview

“There are mines near the shore, and already a lot of people have died…so it’s…

Sep 24, 2022

Mormaii Founder Raided By Brazilian Feds On Suspicion Of Plotting Against Democracy

Curiously, he's the second surf brand founder to become entangled in a political scandal of…

Sep 24, 2022

The Electric Acid Surfboard Test With Mick Fanning, Episode 4

There are three boards left. Which one is Mick taking home?

Sep 23, 2022

Watch: Tresha

The Bella Kenworthy Edit.

Sep 22, 2022

Photos: Welcome To Vans Stab High Indonesia, Presented By Monster Energy

Welcome to Lakey Peak. Now do airs.

Sep 22, 2022

5:27

Taro Watanabe Is The Love Child Of Your Favorite 80’s Surfers

Watch his new edit 'Sonic Youth' now.

Sep 22, 2022

The Four-Finned, Carbon-Wrapped, Vacuum-Bagged Board That Won The 2022 World Title 

The minds behind Sharp Eye and Dark Arts break down Filipe's winning plank.

Sep 22, 2022

Selema Masekela Discusses The New Film “Sweet Adventure,” A New Love For El Salvador and His Not-So-New Music Career 

"It's literally the entirety of my life coming full circle in a way that I…

Sep 22, 2022
Advertisement