Jamie O'Brien at  Pipeline

"I’m just cruising at home," says Jamie O'Brien. "It’s a priceless lifestyle. The way I feel about it is that I’ve been on vacation my whole life." Photo: Ray Collins


The Inertia

Has it worked out?

I’m really thankful for my decision and for the people who allowed me to do it. You see guys on the ‘CT, and that is a great achievement. I know they are stoked out of their minds, too. But some of these guys hang on the ‘CT for a couple of years then you never see them again.

Do you think the free surfer has more longevity in his career?

Only if you do it right. That’s not easy. You’re always thinking of your next move. You are always looking forward to new, fun ideas. For instance, my whole career has been in board-shorts so I’m thinking about cold water now.

What about social media? You have made a big splash online by saying some provocative things.

Twitter was an outlet. To me the Internet is for reading shit. You don’t really want to read it unless it’s really interesting.

You used to work with Charlie Smith to Tweet. Are you still doing that?

Not recently. My old manager hacked into my account last month and wrote some pretty messed up things to Kelly Slater. I felt really bad about that because I’m not the type of person to say that type of stuff.

But you and Slater are always going back and forth on Twitter. Is that just sort of a joking rivalry?

Yeah, absolutely. But Kelly was really mad when that happened. He texted me saying that next time he saw me he wasn’t going to act like my friend. Since then I’m not tweeting.

How long can your career last as a freesurfer?

My longevity is as long as I want to make it. I’m not going to compare myself to anybody, but look at Rasta, Tom Curren, Pancho Sullivan – those guys are all free surfers. The thing to me is that talent never goes away. I hope it goes really good for another five to ten years so at least I’ll be financially set up. I mean, regardless of what happens, Pipe is still my backyard. I can always go out there and get good waves, which is what surfing is about.

Here, Jamie pauses for a second. As I scramble to fill the silence with another question he volunteers this:

You know what I think is really funny? You’ve got lawyers and doctors, and they make such good money and they are rolling in Porches and nice cars and huge houses. Look what they do every day. They don’t have a life. They’re so busy. So me, a pro surfer, I’m just cruising at home. It’s a priceless lifestyle. The way I feel about it is that I’ve been on vacation my whole life.

What about traveling?

It’s not always fun, but it’s better than going to work every day.

Will you ever go back to competing?

Sometimes I wouldn’t mind doing a few contests, but I just want to go where the waves are good. People always ask me: “Why don’t you do contests? Get back into it.” If it were you, and you were in my shoes what would you do? I also hate losing. If I make the quarters or the semis in Pipe, I’m pissed. Some guys are like ‘I got equal fifth!’ and they’re stoked. What? If I compete, I compete to win.

Are you still critical of the ASP?

They’ve had some good events, but I think the core of their system is broken. The surfers themselves are great, but it’s the people that organize it. (Laughs) The pyramid of surfing is broken.

What’s the “core” of the system?

The people running it, Al Hunt, Brodie Carr. You know, the people in charge. They have an old school mentality to surfing, an old school mindset. I’m sure they’re great people. They just aren’t the right people to be running something like that. But I don’t know who is right.

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