If one were asked to explain Jamie O’Brien in a word, they might choose “explosive.” Be it getting spit out of a seething Pipeline barrel, launching an air reverse six feet above the lip, or blowing up in front of a camera, Jamie’s surfing is a full frontal assault on the senses.
Bred at Pipeline, in 2004 Jamie arrived via a wildcard into the Pipeline Masters. In massive Hawaiian conditions he showed exactly why even critics claimed him. After making a staunch, and occasionally outspoken, commitment to living a free surfing life away from the ASP World Tour, the Pipe Masters crown came that much sweeter.
“Amazing,” says Jamie, “It’s what I dreamed of from the time I started surfing, and then to be standing there on the stage with the trophy in my hand, it was amazing.”
Jamie would blitz through the next couple of years. In 2005, he migrated to the Mexican Pipeline and led his team to an X Games gold, and was named X Games MVP. That year he also won the Boost Breakthrough Performance Award at Surfer magazine’s Surfer Poll Awards show, establishing himself at the top of the surf world without having to use the competitive arena at all. Jamie would follow up his Surfer Poll success in 2010, winning the Performer of the Year Award and the especially revered Heavy Water Award.
All the while, the first two films he produced, Freakside and Freakshow, were exceptionally well received, but it would be his 2010 magnum opus Who Is JOB? that would put him at the top of the surf movie business as well. “I didn’t just want to spend six months on it, go on a couple trips and that was that,” says Jamie. “I wanted to make sure the surfing was as good as it could be. We got some unbelievable waves, and were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time for a lot of it.”
And as for what’s next? He intends to continue to flirt with competitive success. In 2011 he finished runner-up at the Volcom Pipeline Pro after winning the event in 2010, in 2009 he won the Rip Curl Padang Cup in some pretty amazing Indo conditions, and in 2008 he won the Da Hui Backdoor Shootout -- and became the first surfer to win the Pipe Masters, Pipeline Pro, and Backdoor Shootout -- while also winning the Billabong Pro Tahiti trials with two 10-point rides.
“We’ll see what happens,” says Jamie casually. “I don’t want to sacrifice good waves for heat wins, but yeah, I guess it’s something that interests me.”