Jack Robinson is on a roll these days. The 21-year-old is still frothing from his 2019 Volcom Pipe Pro victory and the ink is still fresh from his recent Volcom team deal. Embarking on his sixth season on the Qualifying Series, he has his sights set squarely on a 2020 Championship Tour slot.
Robinson is currently in Bali scoring some time at Keramas with the rest of the surf world elite -- see for yourself in his fresh edit below -- and the Western Australian wunderkind kindly took some time out of his busy schedule to jump on the phone with the WSL squad in Santa Monica.
Could you walk me through your win at the Volcom Pipe Pro?
Well, when I'm on a roll or doing well I don't really think too hard about anything. There's a lot of good guys in every contest so you can't think about anyone or how good they are. What was going through my mind was focusing on myself.
You spent a lot of time in Hawaii in the past right?
Yeah, I've been going there for 11 years now, so that's a fair while.
How old were you the first time you surfed pipe?
11 years old [Laughs]. Yeah it was small though, then it just grew on me. I think the more time you put in there definitely plays into having more knowledge in the contest. It's like anything, the more time you put in, the better you get.
So did that win at the Pipe Pro feel like a culmination of all those years you've been traveling there?
Yeah I think so. I've had good results at Haleiwa and other places, but it definitely came together at Pipe. You also need a bit of luck too. It was a good bit of confidence, a good way to start off the year. I wanted to get on Tour the last couple of years but it happens when it happens.
You've stated pretty publicly your ambition to qualify for the Championship Tour in 2020. Could you walk me through what your strategy is this year to try to accomplish that goal?
Yeah my sights are set on that. I think it happens when you're at a point where you know how to approach things a bit better. It's just about growing and getting smarter with each wave surfed. I feel like I'm at a point now where I'm ready to go against all of these guys.
I think what's interesting for you is that you're someone who has been referred to in the surfing community as a prodigy and there was a lot attention put on you. What was it like having such expectations put on you at a young age?
I feel like there was a lot of it out there, but that depends on if that turns into pressure and if you take it that way. Three years ago I started going out there thinking about it, when I was paddling out, when I totally shouldn't be.
You should be going out there and going surfing because you're only a kid. I think just not worrying about anyone and going out there and doing what I'm meant to do, [that's] the best thing.
When you're younger you're not as used to [the attention], but when you get older then you know how to handle it better.
There are people out there who will try and put it on you, but that's why you go surfing, to get a way from it. I just think I'm in a better mindset now, I got a bit older so I just know how to understand things and focus on the things that matter a bit more. That's where I'm at and the best part is that I'm coming into my prime.
You've been on the QS for a long time but you've had a taste of the big leagues. You surfed the Pipe Masters in 2015, Margs in 2016 and 2018. Whats your approach in the water when you're surfing on the world stage, head-to-head with the world's best?
The first time I ever surfed in a CT was at Keramas, I was against Kelly Slater and all those guys, and I was probably overwhelmed with the whole situation.
But as the years go on, you get to realize that you can't think any other way but, "I am as good as these other guys." You go out and you don't look at them any different. They're on the same level. It's about not putting them anywhere else, they're all just surfers in my eyes. We're all in the same situation, it's all about who performs and who gets the waves.
That was Keramas in 2013 when Parko won.
Yeah, I got a Wildcard from Oakley and I was against Damien Hobgood and Kelly for the first time.
So you surfed against Kelly in your first CT Heat!?
Yeah, it was actually two heats [Laughs]!
How old were you at that time?
I was 15, it was pretty cool. It was probably pretty overwhelming but I was stoked. You've gotta start somewhere. It's good to get experience against those guys. I learn a lot from them.
Did Kelly try to play any mind games with you in the water during your heat?
[Laughs] No, not really. We've had quite a few heats since then. I surfed with him at Trestles and Volcom one time a few years ago. He's good to surf against, I like it.
You always learn a lot, mind games no matter what. Everyone's got something different and he's a master at a lot of them. The more you surf against the top guys, the more experience you get. Hopefully I can have a few heats this year on the CT, I feel ready anyway.
You should feel good. I was just watching some footage of Kelly earlier today and there's a quote of him talking about how you're an unbelievable barrel surfer. This was 3 or 4 years ago so that's a huge testament to your abilities.
That's super cool. I'm just thinking about it ... I hope I get to surf a few more times against him before he stops doing contests. That will be good to get a few more heats because it's always good fun going out there and surfing against guys on a crazy level and putting on a show for everyone.
So you're in Bali right now? Are you going to overlap with the Corona Bali Protected there?
Yeah, I'm in Bali right now for 10 days then I'm going down to Chile. Yeah, we'll be here at the same time.
Have you surfed Keramas yet?
I surfed it before I went to Sumatra about 10 days ago, I had a couple good sessions out there.
Can you give me a quick run down with how your sessions went at Keramas?
I've always had fun surfing there. We got some good waves, it was 4-to-5 foot and about as fun as it gets. I'd be stoked to surf out there again in the contest.
It's such a high performance wave, you can try just about anything out there - a few good airs, a few good barrels. It's always a skate park and I enjoy that. I can't wait to get on full time and go against all these guys out there.
Were any of the CT surfers out while you were there?
No it was just me and the Volcom guys surfing over there. I always have fun surfing there, I go there all the time.
What is it that makes Keramas one of the best high performance waves in the world?
I think just the canvas where you can do so many variations and so many top maneuvers, that's what makes it good. You look at another wave like Snapper, that's longer of course. But Keramas gives you that slingshot. You can come from behind and hit it.
Certain waves you can project off of them in no other way. I think that's what makes it good, you can come at it from so many angles and try so many different maneuvers out there.
Any last thoughts on your 2020 CT ambitions? It sounds like you're feeling good and confident.
I think I'll just keep chipping away and stay focused on the QS or whatever else comes my way, I'll do. Signing with Volcom and having people that believe in me is huge. Also with Eric Arakawa as my shaper, his support has always been there so that's one of the biggest parts of the game.
I'm feeling confident and just really can't wait to go against these guys and get on [the CT] so I'm super fired up. When you get a bad result and whatever happens, you just gotta keep chipping away and pushing forward. I'll keep working and staying happy along the way.