Welcome to the 7th episode of the second series of our podcast! We hope you enjoyed this second series featuring amazing guests!
Today we spoke with 3 times IBA World Champion and 4 times IBA Pipeline Champion, Jeff Hubbard.
With him we discussed about bodyboard, his career, amazing stories and ,much more!
You can find the episode available on all major podcast platforms (Spotify, iTunes, YouTube and many more) or read it below (always forgiving us for spelling mistakes made in the transcribe of the episode)
TTOS: Aloha, Jeff, welcome to the show, where are you today?
Just at home in Hawaii, on the beautiful Island of Oahu, a wonderful day in paradise.
TTOS: It’s an amazing place over there and I heard that people were allowed to surf and get in to the water no matter if coronavirus was out there right?
Yeah, they didn’t stop. It was great, we are really lucky.
We had a lot of good waves, so everyone was still pretty happy. It was a good way to keep the population happy and it worked
TTOS: we should tell to politicians around the world : let people go to surf and you’re going to have less problems,
Less problems and happy people.
Surfing, solves all the problems.
TTOS: I really believe in what you just said. Surfing helps, surfing heals….
Today we’re going to talk about your career, your future projects and much more, but the first question that I have for you is, what is the most important thing in bodyboarding, in your opinion?
The most important thing is having fun and just enjoying yourself when you’re in the water.
I think that’s always the paramount, the point of going and jumping in the ocean, whether you’re body surfing, body boarding, surfing, longboarding, whatever…..you’re doing it because it’s kind of a release and it’s fun and it makes you happy….so you gotta do it,for the right reasons
I think those reasons are pretty obvious when you jump onto a craft of any kind in the ocean.
TTOS: A lot of people I interviewed they said the same.
You can surf naked, with no fins, you know, just totally naked and you could still be surfing.
You’re riding a wave, that’s kind of the definition of surfing…. riding a wave.
Riding the surf is the derivative, of when there is the crashing of a wave, if you can ride that, you’re riding that surf, if you’re doing that, you’re surfing.
TTOS: This makes me think to bodysurf and the recent movie of Kalani Lattanzi surfing in Nazare and those giant waves…..
He’s crazy….crazy cool!
TTOS: a question that’s of course, a lot of people asked you in your career…. How did it all start with you and bodyboarding?
In Hawaii you have so many options.
For me it was just what my friends were doing; I had always tried surfing and body boarding and body surfing, when I was a kid, I did everything, whatever everyone was doing.
I was able to choose bodyboarding because my friends, my friend group, my peers were all body boarders and therewere some older body boarders at the surf breaks, I think I saw them and it just seemed to be more fun and exciting and at the time, that’s what we’re all doing and that’s what I stuck to.
One of my brothers surfed and also all his friends were surfing, so he did surfing, it could have gone either way…. It was just more fun for me to bodyboard with my friends and It’s still the same….
TTOS: What was the defining moment of your career, the moment that you basically said to yourself, I’m going to do that as a profession, as a pro.
Oh, that’s a good question…. I haven’t thought, when am I going to do that?
I guess one of them might’ve been that when I was bodyboarding so much and I was going to school at the same time, but my grades got so bad that I was dismissed from school…. I was suspended.
Since I was suspended from college, I had to make money on my own, it was like… “I guess I should make money as a professional to pay my way so I can pay my rent”, because my parents were not going to support me, cause I wasn’t in school.
TTOS:. A good incentive right?
Very motivating, I was lucky at the time, as I was able to get some money from some sponsors and pay my rent and get a start, it was really cool.
TTOS: You’ve been three times World Champion, five times Pipeline Champion. Would you have changed looking back something in your career, would you have done something differently?
I think it’s one of those situations, when you look back, you realize that all roads you take lead you to where you are today.
You only would change things, if you’re not happy where you are today, but I’m very happy where I am today.
You know, you can change a small detail in the past and you’re going to end up in a different situation where you are right now.
Since I’m so happy where I am now, I wouldn’t change absolutely anything, you know?
That includes the losses, you know…..sometimes you’re in a critical heat and you make one little mistake, it would beso easy to change that one mistake and you could win for instance….. but you change that mistake and you couldchange your whole life.
You never know, maybe I’m going to do something different… I’m not going to meet my wife,I’m not going to have a kid.
You just don’t know….
TTOS: I agree with you, in addition to that, if you look at things, we all learn more from difficulties rather than fromwinnings, right?
Yes, we learn from the mistakes, all the time.
TTOS: what is the thing that you are the most-proud of in your career? Not necessarily a winning, but a very meaningful moment…
Oh wow, you’re right, causethe winds all come and go…those feelings (of winning) are amazing, but they don’t define you as a person.
They might define your status and in the surf society maybe, but they never define you as a person or a human being.
I think you always want to be remembered for someone who’s just a good person, a good friend, I think that’s always really important.
First is just being a good human and a good friend, that’s something I treasure more than anything. Those connections you have with your friends and your peers are more important, you’ll take those, you’ll remember those long after you forget the wins.
TTOS: if you have to look at your best moment in your professional career, what that would be?
I guess that one moment when I felt really accomplished, it was probably the first time I won the Pipeline contest because that was a contest that meant so much to me growing up as a kid,
I watched on TV growing up and looking up to these riders and looking at Pipeline and going, “Oh, wow!”
Winning the world championship was like a secondary dream for me, as a kid, the primary one was always just win Pipeline.
Winning that I realized that was such a defining moment… “Wow, I’ve done it, I’ve made it”
I’ve come full circle from what I jumped up as a young kid, knowing nothing about the sport , just watching the TV shows and seeing the bodyboard was on the mainstream TV…..it seems so amazing and so big.
That was the only media back then, it was huge. Being able to do that (winning Pipeline) it just felt really powerful and pretty cool!
TTOS: How do you deal with adrenaline and fear? I guess there is quite a lot in bodyboarding, right?
When you push yourself, you’re always gonna have that balance between being afraid and being excited, they kind of come together…
That adrenaline and the fear all come together at certain stages, sometimes it’s doing it with big moves, sometimes it’s surfing big waves,s ometimes it’s surfing scary, shallow waves or very powerful waves.
It comes in, for bodyboarding, in many different forms and possibilities.
You just really kind of immerse yourself, you try to relax and when you’re scared, you try and laugh it off.
You know, sometimes you just have to laugh and that calms you down, laughing is a real good tool for that…. If you’re caught in a really big, scary situation, you can force yourself to laugh, it kind of naturally brings down your heart rate in certain circumstances.
That’s really powerful and also it helps not thinking about things, just kind of turning your mind blank.
In some situations, is also helpful just trying to numb your mind especially when it looks so life-threatening
TTOS: That kind of a “live-meditation” right?
Exactly. Yeah. Like “out of body” experiences…
TTOS: How do you see this sport today? How do you see it evolving? There aren’t so many champions from US anymore….
Obviously there are amazing riders, here in the US and Hawaii and some very talented young individuals coming up, but,at the same time, maybe they don’t have the right opportunities.
I think in certain circumstances, line in some countries like South Africa, for example, they’re so driven because they see someone gets success and they all feel like they can get success.
They all have really strong work ethics and they all have to overcome such diversities there to begin with, for this reason, they know how to make things happen, they learn a trade.
And that’s something that some people in the US and other areas don’t learn. so quickly….
If you have things that are readily available to you and you don’t have to really go after them with everything you have, you don’t have that additional drive. Do you understand what I’m saying?
TTOS: Yes, definitively, nevertheless, you know, from something like a big as USA, to see that the sport is now dominated by South Aficans or Japanese (for the women) it is kind of strange….
I think also US is more dominated by surfing and that image of surfing is so cool.
If you have a lot of opportunity here, the younger surfer kids who are rich, who have the money and the parents are going to push them to surf because there’s so much money in it.
What you’re seeing now, in this recession, really noticeably here the last couple months, is that because surfing really is disappearing as far as professional surfing…no contest, no media, no nothing and the future is really uncertain, you don’t see as much as the parents pushing the kids anymore and to go surfing, to be as pro surfer.
It’s really interesting dynamic happening with this pandemic because of the fact that people would push their kids to any sport.
Everyone’s pushing their kids to do something, to try and make it as a professional athlete because that’s like a dream.
In Hawaii and in Southern California, they have pushed their kids to be pro surfers because you see John John, and they have so much money.
I think that was a huge trend for a while, but people never really picked bodyboarding because there’s no money, you do it for love.
The parents are never going to push your son to something there’s no future career path, they think it is kind of a waste of time.
But now, because of the pandemic and other things, I think there are many more body boarders.
This summer we hit a record in sales all across the board…I’ve never seen sales like this for bodyboarding… it happens just because, you know, everyone’s going out and having fun.
As here’s no reason to go try and be professional in anything, they just realize “Oh, it’s just about going into the water and having fun with your family and your friends” and that’s good enough.
It’s amazing dynamic shift due to this covid situation.
TTOS: You know, we started our interview saying that the most important thing is to have fun and then maybe thiscoronavirus confinement brought us back to our human side
It did, It’s a perfect example.
Everyone is just going out and having fun, I remember when the first lockdown started in the other countries, I felt like“man, I have to surf as much as I can, what if I get locked down? What if they stop surfing in Hawaii?”
It was just this drive…we surfed so much, everyone was making every session count because they didn’t know what the future held in Hawaii.
As soon we realized it was okay, we just felt so lucky cause no one else could surf in other areas of the world, we always felt so blessed and happy to be surfing.
We still feel fortunate and we all took that as a good omen.
TTOS: The other day I was talking with Drew Brophy and he was telling me, look, Alessandro, there is a issue because since all the pro surfers are not going to surf around the world, they are all at home and they’re surfing in our favorite spots and we are not able to catch any wave because all the pro surfers are catching them….
We don’t have that problem here in Hawaii so much, but they were all here, you’re right.
The Pipeline was really crowded when we had the big swells, cause all the pros were here.
Usually in April, they’re all gone, but this April, we had amazing swells in here, everyone was there.
It was like “wow, it’s just like, the middle of the winter with all the pros and the same same vibe”, you’re right, that wassomething….
It was important because the people got to see the pros more and interact with them and watch them surf, I think that had such a big effect on the community.
They would get to surf with them and really get to learn faster, I see the kids, I feel like just looking at the, you know, body boarders here and also pro surfers. I see on the pro surfer kids that are right on the cusp of the juniors level that are really good, that are getting the surf with all the top level guys that are on the CT….they got to learn so much faster and it’s in a few months, you know, their level is going much stonger than I think it would before, because they’re surfing every day, watching their heroes do the same moves at their local break in person, which is pretty rare.
TTOS: You were just saying, few seconds ago, that the sales of your company are amazing, in this period, are you happy about the achievements of your company so far and what’s next?
Well, you know, we started the company in 2013, so we’ve been going on seven years now.
It’s my brother and I, we own the company and it’s just such a great time, it’s a passion, you know, it’s just what we love to do.
It’s just the natural progression for our careers is to design the products we’ve used and work on every day….it’s really cool.
I always think: “Well, if I want to use this product, everyone else is going to use it, because it’s going to work and it’s going to be perfect.”
Most of the bodyboard equipment out there, the majority of it, that’s sold is made by people that don’t have any clue.
It’s really nice when you put on something that really works and someone that’s spent a lot of time analyzing every single detail of it.
I think really those little details make such a big difference and well, at least to me, so that’s why we can make this stuff,. It just perfectly suited to what works and it’s nice design.
We get to do R/D and we constantly working on it, evolving, you know, our surfing at the same time as, our products, making sure they’re the best they can be.
it’s really fun, I’m really blessed to be able to do this for a living. I think it was the perfect time for us to just to have a wonderful, wonderful company and experiences.
I had got my master’s in business, it was something that I dreamt about doing before I jumped about going pro….the whole reason I started competing in a contest as a kid was like : “well,I think I’d like to be in the surfing business somehow, so I’ll just go to these contests and start out and learn about meet people and learn about the industry that way”.
It’s kind of a full circle, I had a bunch of stops along the road, you know, being a pro pro body boarder, but, at the end, it was, the perfect culmination of what I dreamed about doing from the very beginning.
TTOS: At the end, there’s a mindset rightThrough and you see your objectives then, no matter what’s the age, you can achieve them…
What are your plans next?
Well, here in Hawaii, we, I always put on a a lot of contests.
I organize two contests for the kids, one on Oahu, it’s a free contest for the young kids, that we do every year, like 15 and under, and it’s free….that’s really a big contest, I’ve been doing it 12 years.
We just don’t know if they’re going to give us a permit this year….that’s where we’re working.
We don’t know, because of the coronavirus, the Authorities may not issue permits on the Island of Oahu for gatheringsand, obviously, itmake sense…..we will see how that goes.
We are having another contest on Kauai, another Island here in Hawaii, where they they’ve given us the permit for August, everything looks okay, we’re having a big amateur event for the kids as well as a pro-event too. It’s a nice mixture where the pros teach the kids how to do everything. It’s a really good opportunity on how to inspire the next generation, kids get to watch the pros and the pros get to teach the kids and really work with them on how to surf the contest and ride better.
It’s a really big project and this will be our second year…..those are what we’re working on now, besides everyday work on the company,
TTOS: We are going to finish our interview with a short Q/A session,please answer the thing that comes up to your mind….
The best board that you ever ridden…
My scifi bodyboard that we have just come out with a few years ago and I won’t ride anything else.
TTOS: Your favorite bodyboarder today?
it’s still my brother, Dave, he’s always has the most fun, honestly. I love watching him, you know, surfing. Maybe he’s not always riding the most technical or the best or the most advanced, but man, he’s always having the most fun. It’s great to ride with him because of that situation.
TTOS: Your favorite surf spot…
TTOS: A personal question, your favorite song….
I guess, ACDC, they got a lot of good ones.
TTOS: And the last question, we want to know, your est relationship advice…..
Oh, listen, try to listen more than talk.
Listen as much as you can. if you can do that and really understands all sides of everything, then you’ll be doing really good. Just try to listen.
Recorded in June 2020