Earlier this year young Cornishmen Luke Dillon and Jobe Harriss set off to Aus for the start of the 2016 WQS season. Over the course of two months the lads competed in a string of QS’, where in most, they were not only the only Brits, but the only Europeans. We sat down with them recently to chat to them about flying the flag and what its like taking on the first rung of the international competitive surfing ladder:
WL: Hey boys, So Luke, first, how was it? did you have fun? are you happy with your results?
Luke: I loved it, I got to visit places I’ve never been to in Aus during the trip and seeing Jobe at the comps was good too, we would be at each other’s heats as support so that was cool. I really enjoyed my time there, met new people and it was good to see the higher ranked guys around the comps that I was doing like Ace Buchan. I got a counting result that I’m happy with and also a few back ups so I’ve got five counting results already which was the plan.
WL: So you did 5 comps whilst out in Aus? thats a pretty full on comp schedule for only 2 months, did you find it hard to regroup after each comp knowing there was another so close?
Luke: After the first comp down in Maroubra , Sydney I think I had a two week gap before the next which was nice, I flew up to the Sunshine Coast and stayed up there with my friends family which was a good time to chill and regroup. After that I just enjoyed knowing after one comp I was straight into the next , no waiting around for weeks it was full on and that’s what I prefer as you can get into that mindset and keep in it the whole times, keeps the fire going having no down time.
WL: The QS is renowned for being fairly competitive and a little hostile at times, particularly to those coming from countries without a big representation, what was the vibe like in the free surfs and in general around the comps?
Luke: In free surfs I didn’t find it that bad because I was going in with a couple guys I already knew and had a few friends out there already, I found it a bit nicer than Europe where it always seems that everyone hates the English (laughs) but I found it a lot more chilled in those comps. However when I was down at the QS6000’s towards the end of my trip I saw it’s a lot more hostile with a wider range of countries being represented. At one point I saw twenty Brazilians forming their own corner in the surf tent, which was a bit hectic when judges were deliberating scores between a Brazo and an Australian. But Im cool with either , I sometimes like a bit of that when people look down at me and Jobe being from Britain it gives me extra fire to smash them out the water in my heats, equally I like being chilled out and talking with everyone in the comp site.
WL: And what about you Jobe?
Jobe: For me I definitely found it a bit intimidating heading so far afield and as you said, representing a country which half the people in the contests don’t even realise has waves. I definitely have trouble getting into the right head space for contests and so this was an added factor which I found difficult to deal with. That being said it gives a bit of a shock to the system for them when they see Luke and I (mainly Luke haha) busting through heats which is kinda cool. I didn’t find there was any kind of animosity against us personally but I definitely felt like people were pretty condescending towards us.
Luke: Yeah, I agree totally
Jobe: I have no idea if what I’m writing makes any sense by the way, I can barely keep my eyes open. (Jobe only landed last night and is very jet lagged- Ed).
Luke: We got them Jobey , they’ll remember us. (laughs) I feel your pain mate I’ve been here for a few days and still get tired by 8pm and awake at 5am.
WL: And what was the overall standard like as compared to your expectation, were you blown away by the surfing of random guys you’d never heard of or did it not feel all that much higher than the Euro comp scene?
Jobe: In terms of the level I think that it isn’t head and shoulders above Europe, but the difference is the quantity of good surfers. There’s a whole lot more guys that are at the same level as you, whereas in Europe there’s not so many. So in that sense you have to be a whole lot more consistent in your approach. If you you flounder a little bit in your heat there isn’t really a second chance, whereas in Europe and especially the UK you can sometimes get away with not surfing your 100% best every heat but still make it through. I think me and Luke both proved we can make heats and get good scores, which proves the level isn’t untouchable, it just warrants a much higher level of consistency to make it through every heat. You’ve got to be smart and make minimal mistakes, think much more seriously about your strategy and wave selection.
Luke: I’d say that being there with, like Jobe said, many more good surfers means you have to raise your game and be smarter, you can’t just turn up 20minutes before your heat anymore, you’ve got to be a lot more prepared, and I agree with Jobe I think we both showed that it’s not untouchable and that we can do it , I think it just takes self belief and motivation, me and Jobe were the only two European surfers in most of the comps, let alone British. I think me and Jobe will have a real good crack at it this year , and both try get into those higher rated events together by the end of the year.
WL: And Luke, what are your plans now going forward this year?
Luke: Continue on the QS just pick and choose my events now, try and improve on my current results from Aus and try get into that top 200 bracket by the mid year cut off so I can go into the QS 6000’s for the second half of the year. Also continue on the UK pro surf tour as that’s prefect for continuing the competitive season going all the way through the year; I also want to try make some cool videos in different locations, and finally going to get some coaching on technique which will be good as I’ve never had any before.
WL: Sounds good, good luck with it all and we look forward to seeing you in those 6000’s at the end of the year. Jobe, going back to the first question, did you enjoy yourself? how do you feel about your results?
Jobe: I did 4 events, I only did 1 QS last year so didn’t have a seeding going into 2016 meaning I either didn’t get into events or started right at the bottom of the pile. I had a rad trip for sure, I decided I’d make a bit of an adventure out of my time in Oz and explored all the way up the coast from Sydney to Brisbane. So getting to experience cool places other than just the beaches was definitely cool. I wasn’t actually that pleased with my results though, I’ve had a pretty full on six months as far as travelling is concerned and I think I started to burn out pretty early on with regards to surfing the contests. I struggled to get focussed before each event and once you set off on an unstable path I find it incredibly hard to set myself back on the right track, especially while the contests were so densely packed together. That being said though, it was my first time venturing out on to the QS circuit to do a proper competitive stint so I can;t be too hard on myself, there were some real positives to pull away from the experience and I’ve no doubt I’ll be much better prepared going into the main European QS leg in August.
WL: I think no one really see’s how long some people grind it out for on the QS before they start to do well and make the tour.
There’s obviously a few super young guys on there but most people don’t get on until their early to mid twenties after a good few years grind.
Jobe: Yeah exactly, take Jack Freestone as a prime example, everyone thought he’d qualify in no time but it’s taken him years. Or someone like Kai Otton who didn’t even make the tour until he was 28 I think it was. I think I’m still trying to find my feet with it all and work out what’s going to work best before I can start moving forward. Lukes got a year headstart but if I’m in the same position this time next year as he is now, I’d be super pleased, he’s done really well. I’ve got a few days at home before a short trip to Scotland and then off to Spain for the next QS. After that, I think I’m going to come home and embrace the opportunity to chill out, regroup and get myself back to peak physical condition before the long QS stint through Europe in August. Hopefully from that, I can get some good results and push onto the QS6000’s and really start pushing the top guys but we’ll see.
WL: Thanks a lot for for talking the time out to speak to us. Have fun in Scotland and good luck going forward.
We’d also like to shout out the boys sponsors for making it possible for them to head off round the world and represent Britain on an international stage. For Luke thats; Korev, Typhoon, Adams, Dakine & Spy. And for Jobe: Animal, Monster Energy, Pukas, C-Skins & Dragon
Cover Photo and Photos of Jobe by Ella Henwood // @ellahenwood
Photos of Luke by Luke Gartside // @lugarts