WATCH: Jared Houston - 'A Chungo Story'
It has been a big couple of years for South African Jared Houston. Since the beginning of last year Jerry has become the World Champ (his second time to do so) and has pretty much become the honorary third Hubbard Brother, becoming part of the Hubboards family. Now with 2019 almost halfway through Jared has blessed us with a fresh clip of him ripping up in his adopted home of Puerto Rico.
We thought this clip was a valid excuse to check in with the bru about his World Titles, his new board sponsor and what’s to come this year…
MM: Jerry congrat’s on the World Tour win last year! How did the win stack up with 2015?
JH: It was totally different; way less build up. In 2015 I was leading the tour and getting paid thousands of dollars a month just to bodyboard, so I was fully emerged in it. I ended up losing early in the last event in PR and just had to wait it out on the sand. When the deciding buzzer sounded and none of my competitors had done enough to overtake me it was just so emotional and overwhelming. My family (Natasha and Poeiti) were there as well as my adopted home crowd of PR, so it was really special. Probably as good as a world title win gets. Last years one was the polar opposite, my family and I were traversing a really difficult period, financially and personally. I was working jobs in production and in the lead up to the final event I was surfing like once every two weeks. You could say my relationship with the sport is 100% organic now, I'm super grateful to be paid by Hubboards and to get to go on trips a couple times a year, so when I got on the plane to that final event in Nazare I was just frothing. High on life. I was 5th on the tour and needed to win the event just to tie with Iain, not to mention all the other scenarios. I really revelled in it though and took it a heat at a time and managed to peak in the final and the surf off heat. It felt amazing, like a true performance and achievement and I'll always cherish it.
I know it was a while ago now, but what was the atmosphere like between yourself and Iain Campbell like during that super heat in Nazare?
I didn't get to see Iain much, he got knocked in the 1/4's and then had to watch it all unfold. That happened to me in 2015 but at least I didn't have to surf a once off heat to break the tie afterward. He looked visibly rattled, probably the only time I've ever seen him like that. It must have been hectic. Iain is such a professional though and a good friend. Once it was all done we shared a hug and some words and I know he was stoked for me. It won't be our last battle.
Any hard feelings between you and fellow Saffa Iain Campbell following the heat?
I don't think so, like I said above, Iain is so legit. He's a machine and this time he came up short. He'll be in contention again this year and is without a doubt the hardest competitor on tour at the moment. I’m pretty excited for this season.
We assume you’ll be heading over to South America for the next leg of the tour, what event are you most looking forward to?
At the end of last year I decided that I wouldn't follow the tour this year. After a few months off, I just couldn't shake the competitiveness. I LOVE IT. So, I'm skipping Brazil but will be competing at all the events in Chile. Antofagasta has $10k for the winner this year which is on par with the biggest cheques I've competed for during my career so I’m really excited. The event in Iquique should be sick, the wave is amazing. I'm really looking forward to Arica this year, I'm super keen to put on a show. I want to let my surfing do the talking this year.
Who do you think are the biggest threats on the tour this year?
Iain, Tanner, PLC, Tristan and Diego. Alan Munoz has also been on an absolute TEAR and I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the high end.
Your new clip is called ‘A Chungo Story’, We’ve done some google translating but thought we’d get your take. What does it mean?
Haha, yeah Moncho (Filmer & Editor) actually just named it that and then with the Star Wars esque theme it stuck. Chungo is actually a Canarian/Spanish term for bad/average/seedy. Puerto Ricans don't use it much but I hear it all the time from Ardiel Jiminez who lives here too. It’s interesting to note that the majority of the "meat" in the clip was filmed over a day or two in March/early April. This last season absolutely SUCKED for waves, but I still had a great time in the ocean on my boogie, it’s just too fun.
We see you’ve started up bodyboard camps over in Puerto Rico! How have they been going and what do they entail?
I was pretty inspired by Ryan and what he and the Bali Bodyboarding crew were doing. I went on a camp when I was like 12 and it was the most memorable experience ever. Couple that with the setup I have here in PR, I was like, “I should do this”. It’s been so much fun thus far and I’ve gotten to meet so many rad people. That’s the idea for me really. Houston camps are about community. Improving your skills whilst sharing time with people who have the same passion as you. My wife is an amazing cook, so she takes care of the meal side. Did I mention our camps are all inclusive? As soon as you land at the airport until the moment you leave, everything is taken care of. 8 nights accommodation, 3 meals daily, all water, airport transfers, daily transport to the beach and activities as well as 7 days of coaching and guiding with me. I’m having the best time ever doing it and I swear my surfing is improving for it as well. Come hang with us this Northern Hemi winter. The water temp is 27 degrees celsius (81 fahrenheit) and up all year long.
How different is it in Puerto Rico compared to your homeland South Africa?
Polar opposite. The only thing that’s similar is that the waves are good. Otherwise they couldn't be more different. You'll have to come and see for yourselves or check out our website right here.
Do you have any free-surfing trips planned this year? Or is the Tour a priority?
Tour has taken priority although I'd originally planned to free surf. Next year I'll be free surfing for sure. I hope to make this my last full run.
How did your move to Hubboards come about?
My contract ended with VS. Jeff had helped me a lot during varying stages of my career negotiating contracts etc, and he and I (as well as Dave) had become good friends. Dave was actually staying at my house when I got the news that my VS contract would not be renewed. I was pretty much ready to throw in the towel. I was super over it. I reached out to Jeff and it was all on within a matter of days. Minimal expectations just working with friends and doing cool things. I'm so grateful to be involved with this brand. The boards are great but more than anything the company is about everything I love about this sport. Fun. Hubboards is only growing and were going to do some insane things over the next few years.
The Hubbard brothers must’ve been stoked to have you take out the title on one of their sleds?
Their slogan is the champions brand so I was stoked to bring another title to the brand riding Hubboards. It was insane, Dave was on the beach with me giving me back rubs and all kinds of support. Jeff was with his family driving across the US and actually watched the heat on his phone. It was pretty awesome to share this last title with them, hopefully we can share another by years end. I'm going to ride the same set up as I did last year, Quad Core ISS which worked a dream and I might actually even take my title winning board over to Chile too.
Pretty broad question, so answer it as you please. What does the rest of 2019 hold for Jared Houston?
World Title number 3? Let’s see. Plenty good times with my family, my daughter is 5 now and is at such a cool age. We’re doing so much and having such a good time. Natasha is finishing up her PHD so we'll be hopping over to Portugal for a little bit after Fronton. I'm really looking forward to this winter, I'm aiming to do at least 6 camps between November and March, so if you wanna come hang, surf amazing waves, eat great food and live the life for 7 days - Check out our website for more info or just get in touch!