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UNF Spinnaker

Professional surfer Hangs Ten with surf club, premieres film in Neptune Beach

Pro surfer and filmmaker Jamie O’Brien dropped in on the UNF Surf Club Oct.14, taking all but the few schemers by surprise. He spoke to the crowd of approximately 50 surfers about his third surf video, “Who is J.O.B.?,” among other things.

His new film, which he produced, directed and starred in, premiered at Aqua East Surf Shop in Neptune Beach Oct. 15.

O’Brien, aka J.O.B., is a 27-year-old Hawaiian native. And while he is not renowned for following the conventional flow of the professional surfing circuit, he won the Pipeline Masters in 2004, the Pipeline Pro in 2006 and the Pipeline Backdoor Shoot-Out in 2008.

O’Brien said he focuses mainly on tracking the flow of surf swells and traveling according to their direction. He shares his monstrous, wave-ripping voyages with the world through unprecedented footage from countries like Indonesia and Tahiti.

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Before the screening of “Who is J.O.B.?,” which O’Brien’s surf sponsor, Red Bull, promoted, O’Brien took some time to discuss his new movie and ideology behind being a pro surfer with the Spinnaker.

Q: What are you doing in Jacksonville?

A: We got invited out here by the crew from Red Bull. They said they wanted to do a premiere in Jacksonville, so I said, “Let’s do it.” It’s great because I haven’t even been to the East Coast in I can’t even explain how long. It’s probably been about 15 years since I’ve last been here. I’m stoked.

Q: Last night you went and visited the UNF Surf Club, I’m sure they really appreciated it.

A: It was definitely cool to come in and check out the kids on the surf team. It sounds like they’re really good. I look forward to keeping my ears out and eyes open for the team itself.

Q: Were you nervous?

A: I was really nervous. I was sitting in front of a full classroom. [laughs] It was nerve-racking! I didn’t know if they wanted to hear what I had to say or not.

Q: You’re known for your innovation in surfing, sometimes riding without fins at pipeline, doing 540s and 720s in the barrel. Do you see innovation in surfing as never-ending?

A: Yeah. I mean, look where it started: single-fins, people not doing 360s to now doing 360s and 360s in the barrel, 360s over the barrel. There is nothing better to me than barrel-riding and doing airs and keeping surfing delightful and fun to watch. I don’t want to be a boring surfer, you know? I want to surf great waves that look fun to ride and make other people want to ride them.

Q: Being a professional surfer, does it change the way you surf?

A: No. It might change your attitude because you have to be a professional about representing yourself. You can’t be a clown, goofing around and getting into trouble. As much as you might not think it is, it’s a job.

Q: You lit the Association of Surfing Professionals rule book on fire. Why?

A: Well. I mean, it had nothing really to do with the ASP itself. Controversy is good. It’s America. It’s freedom of speech. You can do whatever you want. It’s not illegal. It wasn’t in the rulebook that I couldn’t burn the rulebook.

Q: But they fined you $10,000.

A: Yeah, they fined me, but that’s all right. You got to give back to the surfing community sometime, you know?

Q: But you ended up winning the contest, winning money and paying them back with their own money?

A:  [Laughs] Yeah, I paid them back with their own money. It worked out well. No hard feelings for the ASP. I like surfing their contests.

Q: What are you doing when you aren’t surfing?

A: Besides surfing, I’m really into fishing, sword fishing, deep sea fishing. Fishing for Jacks on the beach. I’m really into scuba diving. As I’m getting older, I am finding a lot more fun things to do. It feels like I’m a little kid again.

Q: What does this film mean for you? Is it different from anything you’ve ever done before?

A: It’s not really about the surfing in this film, it’s about the inner views of my life and what I went through, and hopefully people can relate.

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