No rules, no regrets… just Living Forward. That’s North Shore free surfer Jamie O’ Brien’s view on sports, recreation, and the human experience—a pure outlook on existence unsullied by second guesses and swollen egos. Like everyone else, though, Jamie undertook a journey to reach his enlightenment—and as is nearly always the case, the journey was just as important as the destination.
You don’t earn the nickname “The Ultimate Waterman” without an early start on the water. Jamie’s childhood home was on Oahu’s North Shore, smack in front of the famed Banzai Pipeline. Some things in life are just meant to be and Jamie’s affinity for the sea is one of them.
Jamie wasted no time developing an intimacy with the waves of his home shore, leaping at the chance to compete in local surf contests at the tender age of six. That spirit of competition burned bright into his early 20s, and stood strong in the face of setbacks and injury; so strong, in fact, that he took 4th place at 2001’s Pipeline Masters despite coming directly off a groin injury.
Jamie’s fortitude at 2001’s Pipeline event catapulted him further into the competitive scene, leading to blue ribbon success at Hansen's Pipeline Pro in 2003. But it was 2004 that’d prove a game changer for the hometown hero, when he became one of the youngest surfers in history to win the Pipeline Masters at only 21 years of age.
This sounds like the origin story of one of the surfing world’s most tenacious professional tournament competitors. But remember… this is Jamie O’Brien we’re talking about.
When it comes to Jamie, one of the worst things you can do is assume you have him figured out. Just when his ascension to the top of the pro ranks seemed imminent, he shocked the surfing world and abruptly shifted course.
Hot off his Pipeline Masters championship, Jamie took a time out to produce his inaugural surf flick, Freak Show. The creative process captivated him; film and its freedom of expression was exhilarating. He found himself disenchanted by the regimented structure of competitive surfing, and in 2005 he stopped chasing titles in an effort to realize a more complete and contented version of himself.
While Jamie would occasionally drop-in on structured pro competition sporadically in the years that followed, he largely eschewed that scene in favor of freesurfing, a new genre of surfing he helped create that focused on a fresh approach: no rules, no criteria, no judgment. Surfing not so much as a sport but as a lifestyle; not something to be won but something to be experienced. Something to be cherished.
As Jamie began freely traveling the world for any swells that caught his eye, he also focused on chasing his stoke in the film industry, producing a follow-up 2008 surf film, Freak Side, as well as 2010’s award-winning freesurfing film, Who is JOB? The latter even spawned a long-running YouTube series (you can catch Jamie’s latest YT content here).
Original. Adventurous. Gnarly. Mental. We’ve called Jamie O’Brien all those things… and for good reason. He does things nobody else will do. The things people only dream of in a fever dream. Hell, he’s even surfed Teahupo’o on fire.
So, just who is JOB? We could try to answer that all day—but hasn’t he already answered it himself? He’s a force of nature. A daredevil. A contrarian. A free spirit. And now, he’s a Blenders athlete. //
The shades rocked by Jamie O'Brien