Jake Halstead’s life-path has been far from conventional – even by sponsored-surfer standards. Competing regularly from age 12 onwards and sponsored by Billabong at 16, he seemed destined for the Championship Tour, getting second at the ISA World Surfing Games in New Zealand. But the move from the Pro Juniors to the Qualifying Series proved difficult, leading to discouragement, too many parties, and eventually losing his sponsor. Fast forward to a couple years ago, and Jake suddenly found himself expecting a child with his girlfriend. That changed things, letting him focus on something other than himself. Giving back to those on the path Jake once was on has been a big inspiration. He’s since founded a surf school in San Diego that caters to everyone — groms, beginners, and up-and-coming pros — and between that and family life, he’s been able to sneak down to Central America a few times to do some filming while picking up new sponsors.
You started surfing as a pro pretty young.
I started competing regularly when I was about 12 or 13. And when I was 16 I got second in the ISA World Surfing Games in New Zealand and that really kick-started my career from an amateur kid to thinking, “whoa I can really make a career out of this.” I signed a contract with Billabong. From there I started traveling, doing the full Pro Junior series, and I did pretty well. And then transitioning to the Qualifying Series I struggled a bunch. It’s a big leap from the Pro Juniors to the QS, and I had a couple tough years. I lost my sponsor, and that’s where I went down the road of just partying and not taking care of myself and I gave up on my pro surfing dreams. I was pretty lost. But all of a sudden I had a kid and that helped me really find myself in life and realize that there’s a lot more to life than just surfing and getting results.