Aussie Jack Robinson’s prowess on the North Shore this year is unmatched. The nickname “Jack Robo” has been on the tip of everyone’s tongue, as we watched the Margaret River native ultimately position himself in line with his World Championship Tour (WCT) qualification dreams by punching through a handful of beautiful blue barrels to combo the field at one of the most challenging venues in the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing—Sunset Beach. His accolades are numerous, especially impressive considering he just turned 22 years old. Robo’s confidence all seemed to snowball after his Volcom Pipe Pro win last season. He was picked up by the Volcom surf team (good on ‘em) and hit the 2019 Qualifying Series with a new sense of ambition and strength, earning 3rd in New Castle, 5th in Chile, 9th in Galicia, and 3rd at the Vans Pro at Sunset Beach, which seems to be the host of some of his best performers. He even got a wildcard in the Margaret River Pro for a taste of the CT stage where he made it through to the quarterfinals against the best in the world.
We’ve been watching Robo attack the Banzai Pipeline since the young age of 11, and he’s no stranger to the pit. Growing up at North Point in shark-infested West Oz is sure to put some hair on your chest. Possibly even more hungry than Australian great whites are the local boys looking to get a shot to prove themselves in the Pipe lineup with only a few other guys in the water.
We caught up with Jack after his most recent Sunset Beach win to get some insight into what’s lighting up his fire. Between the precision of his Eric Arakawa quiver, to the good vibes of his tight knit crew, the Volcom surfer has figured out how to balance the equation for success in the most competitive arena.
Q: Your boards look really sharp under your feet. Have you changed anything this year?
JR: Not too much. My boards have always been good. My shaper, Eric Arakawa, has always been on to it, but I think I’ve changed a lot: grown up a lot, gotten bigger and stronger. I’m getting older and working things out a bit more. There are lots of transitions in life… there are always things going against you, but the tight crew around me has helped me to overcome. The people surrounding me are helping me stay calm and focused.
Eric Arakawa has supported me pretty much ever since I started coming to Hawai`i making boards for me. He’s a really good friend. We’re a big family, we work together, and I couldn’t be happier for his support. So, the equipment has always been good, but there was a lot going on with me. I finally got through that and I’m on to the next stage.
Jack had just turned 16 and he was in the Sunset Junior Pro, and it was bombing. It was really strong offshore, 8-10ft Sunset, real Sunset. It would have been challenging for surfers on the CT and he just dominated. You see people surface every year coming from outside of Hawai‘i surfing the North Shore and testing their mettle. And I have never seen someone like Jack, being that young, coming over here and just playing out there, doing turns like he’s surfing 3ft Ehukai. It looked like he grew up here and knew Sunset like the back of his hand. He’s known for charging big waves, he’s known for his tube riding, but he has a small-wave game in his back pocket, too; the CT is really where Jack belongs! – Eric Arakawa
Q: Talk us through that particular Hale`iwa session (our new cover shot).
JR: Yeah, I remember that wave! It sticks out, from start to finish. That was a big Hale`iwa right from out the back; it was intense. It’s crazy when that wave slams up and comes at you like that. You can go at it with turns with everything you have. If it comes my way, I’m going to hit it.
Q: Seems like you’ve been untouchable ever since you won the Volcom Pipe Pro. What did that event mean to you?
JR: I always want to do well in the Volcom Pipe Pro. That event pretty much launched me into the year. That’s where it all started; it started here and it finished here at the end of the [competitive] season. I got that first result and this last result… Yeah, the Volcom Pipe Pro was huge for me.
Q: How has Tai Vandyke and the Volcom team been supporting you?
JR: The whole crew here at Volcom is really great. They’re backing me 100%. They’re good vibes, good company to be around; it’s just mellow. They’re always supportive and fun; it’s always non-stop laughter over here. This is the best house in front of one of the craziest waves in the world, so I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else.