Ross Clarke Jones In His Own Words
A four-month pursuit has ended for Australian big wave legend Ross Clarke Jones this week, after being washed into the rocks at the notorious deep water bombie Nazaré, in Portugal. RCJ likened the ordeal to a ‘death zone’, admitting he was lucky to walk away with only a concussion and possible broken leg. Add these to an already extensive list of broken nose, back, ribs, shoulder and ruptured bicep tendon over a lifetime of heavy water sessions for RCJ. Then consider the fact that Ross also championed tow surfing through the late 90’s with tow partner Tony Ray (see Biggest Wednesday, Outside Log Cabins 1998), was the first man without Hawaiian blood to win the Eddie in 2001, and was pulling into mondo barrels at Pe’ahi while Kai Lenny was still in Middle School, and words suddenly seem so utterly insignificant here. But one last thought anyway… RCJ is also the only man to have braved the sketchy ‘Big Mama’ seggy at Nazaré which breaks closest to the lighthouse – the same sketchy seggy that evened the score earlier this week. So what better time than now to take audience with Avoca’s sleepy-eyed hellhound, we ask you? These are the lessons of Ross Clarke Jones, from a life spent in the ocean…
Risk… The feeling you get out of surfing a wave is in ratio to the size. If you’ve got this massive swell coming, excitement builds, it peaks as you take off on the wave and the come-down can last years. The bigger the swell, the bigger the high. I still enjoy riding smaller waves but it’s more just to stay in touch with the ocean for me. And forget weekends, they’re too crowded.
Fear… It’s an emotion that everyone has and if you’re not scared of anything you’re clinically insane. I’ve been labeled as that but that’s all bullshit. I mean, cats scare the fuck out of me when I stare them in the face. Fear is usually based on the unknown, where you have no experience of something. I went hiking through brown snake infested tracks and everything looked like a bloody snake. It’s all because I didn’t know: is a snake going to kill me? Am I going to have enough time to get out of here and to a hospital?
Credit Cards… When I travel, I try to strip it down to what I really need. Besides a passport, a drivers license and a credit card, I don’t give a shit about anything else. With that combo, you can do anything. I can rent boards, cars, rooms, anything. You gotta be careful though. The bigger the limit, the more fun you have, right? That’s it, but the heartache is when you come back. You’ve gotta set yourself a limit because if you can’t pay it back, you’re ruined. Keep on top, be smart about it, and you can buy anything, do anything at anytime and go anywhere.
Cars… My second love is driving. I’m not saying I’m a good driver, I’ve actually lost my license… again. I’ve nearly driven every fast car in the world. I own a little suped-up, blacked-out devil Porche in Germany, but who wants to drive around in a Porche everyday? I’d look like a fuckwit. That’s why I go and drive around on the Autobahn for my holidays. I’m hunting down uncrowded roads instead of surf. If you find a really good combination of freeway with an off-ramp that hooks into a loop, do that back and forth at four in the morning with no-one around, it’s completely insane but it’s what I like doing, it’s my kind of holiday.
Hard Lessons… One thing I learned growing up was not being too trusting of people. Especially when money is involved, watch how it changes people. Try and make your own call after you’ve taken away all the money and the fame. Judging someone for yourself is really important too. You hear stories or rumours that can really affect your judgment, don’t let that impact your thoughts on people.
Being A Father… I have a lot of respect for my own dad. He let me do what I wanted but he guided me and saved me a lot of grief. I find myself doing the same thing with my son now. He wants to be a UFC fighter but he’s got such a good brain and I’d hate to see it get punched in. Then again, who am I to say it’s too dangerous? It’d be a bit silly coming from me. I’ve enjoyed being really open with him. I’ve said, “I don’t care what you do but just don’t lie to me. Be honest, I’m here to help you. Always know you can come to me.” More than likely I’ve done it all. That’s one of the biggest fears children have. They don’t want to disappoint their parents and they blow it by not being open. It works two ways though, you need to compliment them on being truthful. I see some damaged friends whose fathers have not been kind to them, haven’t given them encouragement or showed them love and they are damaged forever.
Letting Go… This is something really valuable I’ve learned from Tom Carroll over the last few years, about letting go of stuff. It’s hard to let go of things that have been going for so long. It’s one of the hardest moves but I do know letting go is the best thing to do when you feel like you just can’t. It’s probably the only thing that holds a lot of people back, not having the ability or the balls to let go. It’s a brave move and it’s hard, whatever it may be, whether it’s an ex-wife, someone in your family, whatever it is.