Yesterday, for Jamie O’Brien, was in 2012. One of the world’s best surfers had slipped into a two-year rut of beers and belly fat. And while he was still surfing at a phenomenal level, he wasn’t the same old Jamie. It took him 700 days to arrive at today but he’s emerged a new man. Jamie is now slim and toned, focused and fired up. He’s getting more good waves at Pipe than anyone, butt-stalling switch-stance at Backdoor and doing some of the biggest carves you ever did see. He’s back to being that talented and volatile Jamie O’Brien, and one can only wonder what tomorrow may bring. —Brendan Buckley
JAMIE: It’s weird; I slacked off for two years — just cruised and drank beers. Before this winter, I snapped out of it. I realized these are the years of my prime. I need to take care of myself, eat well, train and be healthy. So that was the attitude this year. It was finally time.
I started training in September. And by early November, I had cut 20 pounds. Riding bikes, eating really lean…I changed my whole program. I’ve been working with Kahea Hart — waking up 6 a.m. every day. We do a lot of plyometric work, a lot of cardio, put in a lot of sweat and pain. In our class it’s Makua Rothman, Billy Kemper and a few other friends. It’s a good, tight-knit group. I started earlier than them, so I was already in good shape by the time they joined, and they tripped out. Now, I catch people off guard all the time, like, “Jamie’s fit? What’s going on here?”
I got to a point where I felt like I was pretty much getting paid to get barreled. But lately, I’ve been more into doing big turns. And honestly, I kind of stopped doing airs, because I stopped surfing those kinds of waves. When I go to Bali I don’t want to surf Canggu anymore. I’m over surfing 2- to 3-foot waves. I kind of get bummed because I know I can still do airs, but I’m just not drawn to them anymore. When I go on a surf trip now, I only go when I know it’s going to be perfect and barreling. That’s key for me. I think with my movie, Who Is JOB, I proved that I could surf anything and that was the biggest point I wanted to make. Now I just want to surf good waves.
Pipeline is war. Someone asked me today, “How do you feel when you surf Pipeline?” and I said, “Angry.” There are so many people out there from all over the world and guys are always getting in the way. It’s all so negative and angry. Some days at Pipe, I’ll get eight perfect ones and other times I’ll go out and not even catch a wave. It is my favorite break and I definitely have days where I’m happy and positive and stoked. But most of the time, it’s so stressful out there. I’d love to just paddle out one day and get barreled and not have a worry.
I’m thinking about doing another movie. It’s hard though; I’ve got to find the budget and the people to be in it. But I definitely have some new destinations on my mind where not many people have been, so I feel like I could show people something they haven’t seen before.