An Interview with Jackson Peak

We recently caught up with Roam ambassador and surfer, Jackson Peak, to talk all things surfing. Jackson is based on the North Shore in Auckland. You can follow him on Instagram:@jackson_peak1

Hey Jackson, tell us a bit about your background with surfing.

My dad taught me to surf when I was five years old, catching waves at Takapuna Beach and Matheson Bay. When I was 12, he signed me up for a Surfing Camp in Piha. I had a great time learning about surfing and how to improve my technique from The Art of Surfing coach, Matt Scorringe. I made friends from the camps who encouraged me to sign up for my first competition at the Billabong Grom Series. After that, I kept improving my surfing and competing. I was fortunate to have my parents’ support, and Mum often travelled with me to competitions around New Zealand. 

Can you talk about how surfing competitions and styles work?

High-performance or competitive style competitions are scored on three aspects: speed, power and flow. This is considered to be a more ‘aggressive’ surfing type, characterised by faster rides and tight turns. This is the style I surf and requires shorter performance boards depending on conditions.

On the other end of the spectrum is a more casual style, where people use twin fin or longer, different shaped boards. These boards are trendy for many surfers where they can get out in the waves and have fun and be creative.

Are there any stand-out competitions that you’ve participated in?

A special one for me was my first win – at the Auckland Scholastics. This was back when I was thirteen and was an encouraging result. In 2020, I placed third in the Under 18 division in the National Series, which qualified me for the Junior World Surfing Champs. I was pleased with my performance. Unfortunately, the event (planned for Huntington Beach in California) didn’t go ahead due to COVID-19.

Do you do any other sports?

I played water polo throughout school until I was 17. I also enjoy snow sports. Initially, I skied, but then shifted to snowboarding, did a few competitions during high school, and gained a few results. I still enjoy getting to the snow in the winter, but surfing and the sea are where I feel most at home. And I suppose, unsurprisingly, I skateboard a bit as well.

I wondered about skateboarding. Is there much cross-over with your surfing?

Yes, turning is relatively similar. Surf coaches generally recommend surfers to skate to refine their surfing technique. It’s an excellent way to improve things like bottom turns, top turns and snaps. It is helpful to have a surf skateboard and a standard skateboard as it is more translational to surfing.

What does your training look like? Does it change before a surfing competition?

It’s pretty variable. I fit it in around studying, work and the weather. Since surfing is so dependent on weather patterns, a session can last from one hour to the whole day.

For a while, I was training under Ollie Farley at the AUT Millennium Centre. A typical training week would consist of a skate session focused on technique, pool and underwater training to cope with bigger waves and manage breathing, and strength training in the gym, where I work on surf-specific movements and strength. It’s important to have a strong core, shoulders, and legs for paddling and manoeuvring.

Before a competition, I’ll continue training at a lighter intensity and introduce more recovery. When I have competitions every fortnight, I’d have active recovery sessions such as yoga right after the event and a few harder sessions before tapering again. There can be a lot of variation in training with back-to-back comps, and it can be hard to keep track of.

What does surfing mean to you?

A lot of things! It’s a great outlet and way to experience pure enjoyment. The NZ surfing community is an important aspect for me – I’ve made friends from all over the country, and it's special to be able to meet up with them for a surf.

Where is your favourite surf spot? And have you got any places that you’d love to go for the surf?

Takapuna Beach is by far my favourite still. It’s close to where I live, and I know it so well. In terms of my surfing wish list, I’d like to go to O’ahu in Hawaii to surf Pipeline and along that coastline. It would be great if I can wrangle a few months between University breaks.

How do you fuel when you’re spending long periods of time out on the water or during events?

If I’m planning a big day on the water, it’s usually an early start. I’ll have a quick snack (or nothing at all) and surf until I get hungry. Then I’ll paddle in for a decent meal. After that, I’ll get back on the water and snack when possible. If dad’s coming on the jet ski, he’ll stash some Roam packets in the jet ski glove box. We’ll motor outside of the swell to have a five-minute break where we both have snacks to refuel and keep going for longer.

Have you got any exciting surfing trips or projects lined up?

I’m off to Indonesia at the end of June for two weeks. We’re going on a surf boat around to the Mentawai Islands, which is up off the coast of Padang in Western Sumatra.

The plan is to surf all day, every day. I’ll be in my element! Then end of July, I’m hoping to get to the RipCurl Pro Competition in Raglan, which is the weekend after I get back. It’s such a good place to have the first surf comp back at.