Jamie O’Brien had a big week. The surfing world collectively watched as the Pipe-specialist stormed through heats during the Volcom Pipe Pro on Oahu’s North Shore. With his tube prowess on display, the regular-footer pulled off an impressive switch takeoff (among an array of impressive rides throughout the event). He lost to John John Florence in the waning seconds of a grand final, arguably one of pro surfing’s most memorable ever. This week he’ll ride a standup board during the Standup World Tour’s first stop, the Sunset Beach Pro. Here, he talks with SUP mag about the upcoming contest and his new hobby. This is JOB –-JC
SM: What got you into standup?
JOB: I bought a Laird board because I thought it’d be fun to mess around with. I went out and caught some bigger waves and it was challenging. (At this stage in my career) it’s more challenging than shortboarding at five or six feet. It inspired me to do it more and more.
SM: What board are you going to use at Sunset?
JOB: The guys at Paddle Surf Hawaii gave me a 9’3” and it works awesome.
SM: Have you been out at Sunset much on a standup?
JOB: Actually, I haven’t practiced out there on a standup much. I’m sure I’ll wing it. Hopefully its not big bumpy and windy. I tend to fall over a little bit. I’m good once I’m on the wave. Mostly it’s just fun and challenging. That’s why I like it. I don’t like to take things too seriously.
SM: How do you think you’ll fare against the field?
JOB: I definitely want to do good. It’s like anything, you’re gonna want to win. I did a contest at Makaha and won my first heat. That was really cool. But losing, at this point, is not really a big deal. I’m just gonna try and get waves, hopefully its not too big. There’s guys that are really good out there (on this tour). It’s definitely something that’s not easy. The guys that are winning are winning for a reason.
SM: Do you think you’ll compete more in standup?
JOB: If I get a little better. I want to get the guys to come paddle with me so I can figure it out. I want to go over and try to do stuff with Kai Lenny (my teammate with Red Bull). Hopefully he can give me some pointers. It’s not that I completely suck, I just need to learn to use the paddle a little bit more when I’m surfing
SM: Are you worried about the stigma with standup in the surfing world?
JOB: I know guys get eggy when I show up on a standup at Pipe. I’m just trying to have a good time. If people are mad at me for having fun I’m not worried about that. It’s all about having fun and enjoying yourself and I get that satisfaction from standup.
SM: Does standup help your regular surfing?
JOB: I think it helps me with my balance and core. After you turn a big board like that you can feel a difference when you get on your shortboard. You can crank it a lot harder.
SM: What are your expectations for the contest?
JOB: I want to get some waves. It’s gonna be a fun standup contest. I really want to just be a waterman: dive, surf, fish and incorporate everything about the ocean into my game. I’ll have a dig at it and do some more contests if it works out. I want to have an arsenal and a bunch of things I’m good at like a Kai Lenny (standup, kite, windsurf) or Sean White (snowboarding, skateboarding). But I have no expectations. I’m just gonna go out and enjoy myself. Win or lose. I’ll still be learning.
Check back for news, notes and video as SUP magazine covers the Sunset Beach Pro.