Right now Jack Freestone is in transit overseas. Like all pro surfers the Gold Coaster spends a large chunk of the year on the road, travelling from contest to contest in pursuit of one day cracking the World Tour. Life seems swell for a young pro surfer on the rise, but it ain’t all perfect waves and prize money. Endless globe- trotting can be confronting, and pressure runs high when your livelihood depends on competitive success.
SurfStitch caught up with Jack to get his take on travelling, and find out what’s essential for a smooth trip.
How was El Salvador Jack? What you expected?
El Salvador was an eye opener. The countryside is really green and full of trees, and the waves are first class, but the living standard is hard to believe. There is shanty towns on the beach with families living in nothing more than homes the size toilet blocks made of rusted sheet metal. It’s a massive contrast.
You’re doing the ‘QS grind in hope of qualifying for the World Tour. Earlier in the year you got a chance to compete at World Tour event in Rio as a wildcard. How was that experience?
It’s difficult to answer that question because I was only in the WT for one event as a wildcard. My whole year didn’t depend on matching up against those guys for a World Title. It was more of an exercise for the future. I went to Brazil to learn from the best, to see how they competed and travelled, and how they coped with losses and wins.
It seems you and Ryan Callinan will take Bong’s top spots when Taj and Parko step down. Does knowing you’re next in line make you relieved, or put pressure on you?
I don’t think that’s quite as obvious as people think, there are many talented surfers in the world of Billabong. I’m in a good position within the company, but I need to be successful to make sure Billabong are happy to continue our relationship.
Ryan’s had a few injuries the last year. Does seeing him out of action make you worry about hurting yourself?
We all get injuries, it’s part of being an athlete. Don’t get me wrong though, I don’t want them to happen to me and I certainly didn’t like seeing Ryan in such a bad way. Surfing today is pretty dynamic and hard on the limbs. It’s part of the job.
When you have a bad result on the road how do you deal with it?
I just take some time out! Cruise by myself and try to work through what I did right, how I lost and how to improve for the next heat.
From South Africa to El Salvador to the US is the one of longest stints you do away from home. What are your top five travel tips?
1. Always have a good set of headphones with you. I can’t travel without my Nixon RPM’s….
2. Always have a hoodie and extra clothes in my backpack for the airplane. The air conditioning generally is pretty cold, and nothing beats getting off a long flight in a fresh kit.
3. iPod is a must for tunes and games.
4. Toothbrush and toothpaste
5. Be prepared for the unexpected. You never know what good or bad things can happen when traveling, being prepared for any scenario really helps.
You see a lot of guys on tour travelling with wives and girlfriends. Do you think that helps you focus on competing?
I personally think it helps. With all the traveling I do to events I tend to lose my routine and get thrown off balance. I love traveling to new places to compete, but it can be lonely. Having partners, girlfriends and family around makes your feel like things are normal and allows you to not be homesick and to focus on the event.
What are your thee favourite Billabong products at the moment?
And what DHDs are you on?
You’re en route to the US Open. It’s an event some surfers love due to it’s carnival atmosphere, but others loathe it because it’s held in summer and the waves aren’t that amazing. What is your take on it?
I love it at the US Open. The atmosphere is like nothing I have ever witnessed before. Thousands and thousands of people on the beach watching all the live action, music, stalls, giveaways. It’s like a circus on the beach without a big tent.
Good luck then mate, thanks for talking to us.