Jase Finlay is a supreme all-rounder – no doubt about that. But watching the man take to a section is fearlessness personified. Proof in the recent Shark Island Challenge, where he threw a colossal air reverse mid-heat. Out The Island. In a competition. (No surprise that he eventually won the comp, too).
Then there’s his infamous exploits out heavy slabs like The Bombie, Supers, the list goes on. Does he not feel fear? Is he an immortal surfing amongst mere men? You’d be forgiven for thinking so.
Alas, Finlay has moments of contemplation just like the rest of us. If, of course, we also dipped our toes into bullshit-heavy slabs on the regular. “Was it really worth it? Is it ever gonna be worth hurting myself for this? Am I going to be a broken old man in a wheelchair one day because of this?” It’s a rare glimpse into the mind of Finlay, reflecting on his worst ever wipeout way back in 2012 at Mexican Pipe, long before his Shark Island win – on a section that was begging to be hit, and the waking nightmare that followed shortly after.
“I was surfing Puerto Escondido in 2012, right before the World Tour comp. It is, for sure, one of the heaviest waves I’ve ever surfed. We were told five people had been killed that season off the beach so far. Not that day, though – it was six-to-eight foot, junky and onshore.
There was a little crew on this bank, with rips popping up everywhere and changing the lineup every 15 minutes. It was stinking hot (as it always is there), in the middle of the day when the onshore started to tickle, and I’d been out an hour or so finding nothing but scraps.
Then a set peaked up with that classic incoming Puerto wedge, with a guy just deeper than me in the spot. But at the last second he opted out, which had me swinging and stroking in as hard as I could.
From drop-in to the bottom turn, I was pushing to hold my line for the upcoming section. It was a wave with no time to think. My late run gave me a heap of speed – I threw an invert, but the projection instantly gave me extra rotation, so I pulled it in to try reverse it. That was my undoing.
“The landing fucking splattered me...[I] had that horrendous wondering if I had done any serious damage to myself” - Jase Finlay
The landing fucking splattered me. Simultaneously, every ounce of air got blasted out of me, my coiled legs flexed my back, and my head whiplashed into one of those instant mind-numbing headaches.
I got rolled hard by the wave and had that horrendous wondering if I had done any serious damage to myself. I surfaced after some time grasping my board, not yet able to kick or catch my breath. A slew of set waves rolled over me, with Puerto doing its trademark thing of not letting you in or out, but holding you right in the impact zone. It definitely felt like an eternity in there.
Eventually the sets settled, a few breaths started to flow, and I was able to get some momentum towards shore.
I stumbled onto the beach and up to [Videographer] Will Hodgett – back aching, head thumping, still short of breath. My session was well and truly done. He played it cool, pretending he hadn’t filmed the air, holding his poker face for a second before bursting with excitement with the clip we just got. I watched it over, absolutely frothing, but debating whether it was actually really worth it. I contemplated it hard for a few days… until the next air bowl came along. I love the boog, but fuck it hurts sometimes.”
"I love the boog, but fuck it hurts sometimes." - Jase Finlay