INTERVIEW: Justine Dupont on that XXL Jaws Barrel "I Wanted To Get More"

Jason Lock

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Updated 46d ago

This may be one of the best barrels we've seen at Jaws. Period. Justine Dupont gets whipped into this throaty monster, doesn't even hesitate, doesn't back down and gets the ride of the day, maybe even of the French hellwoman's life, during the XXL mega swell that rocked Maui (and everywhere else) on Saturday.

Let's get one thing straight – this day at Jaws was never going to be a paddle day. Too big, too wild, too windy, bumpy. Too ludicrous to even entertain the thought. For this session, Justine teamed up with Michel and Tyler Larronde, Michel whipped her into the pit you've all seen by now, and if you haven't check it out below.

Forecast: Jaws

© 2021 - Maui Media Cartel.

Anyway, Justine ain't one to stay still. This big wave hero has already made it to Mav's, ready for a swell there. Then likely back to Nazare – her big wave home where she consistently charges the tallest waves of a session. We caught up with Justine to get the post-barrel breakdown. It is a show-stopper, one of those life-changing moments that every successful surfer has in their career. For Justine, she's just getting started.

You’re already back at Maverick’s? Been a crazy winter for you…
Yeah, so crazy. But we’re just here shortly; we’re gonna take our luggage then go back to Nazaré tomorrow. 

With the lockdown, and no possibility to surf at Nazaré, and the Pacific turning on, we had to come. It was kind of complicated, but we were really lucky to come and surf all this swell – at Maverick’s, Todos Santos, and Jaws. I think the Atlantic will turn on soon, so I will take a little bit of rest, then be ready for the next round. 

How were you feeling leading up to this swell in Hawaii?
It was so crazy because it was right after the run of swell we got at Maverick’s. We were surfing every day with Jamie Mitchell – out there every morning at sunrise and then all day long. We scored some nice sessions, mostly paddling. I thought it might’ve been too much, like, my body might not be able to handle it. But at the same time, when I saw the swell, it looked so big

Then there was the big, big swell, and I got the opportunity to tow with Jeff [Clark]. Then we went all the way to Todos the day after for this strike mission. Then back to Maverick’s and surfed again. It was nonstop.

I thought it might’ve been too much, like, my body might not be able to handle it. But at the same time, when I saw the swell, it looked so big. And because of the wind, I was more thinking about a tow session. After all my time at Nazaré, I was feeling pretty confident in my tow surfing. So, I thought, even if I had low energy, I thought I could make it happen if we were towing. And we decided to do it. 

Talk us through that wave…
It’s funny, I never tow at Jaws. Michel [Larronde] towed Tyler [Larronde] for an hour or so, and Tyler was surfing so well. Michel was putting Tyler in the perfect spot. When I let go of the rope, I remember thinking I was so, so deep. But I also remembered Tyler telling me: ‘If you think the wave will be a closeout, that’s good. That means you’re going to get barrelled.’

It was so good to watch. I was really focusing on what they were doing – what lines they picked, how Tyler surfed, when they would go fast. Then they asked if I wanted one. And I was okay with a smaller wave to start off, since my last wave at Jaws was two-years-ago. 

So, I got the first one and I was feeling really good. I was really confident in Michel. We were waiting a really long time and we ended up going way deep in the lineup. A set came and nobody was going, so we went for it. When I let go of the rope, I remember thinking I was so, so deep. But I also remembered Tyler telling me: ‘If you think the wave will be a closeout, that’s good. That means you’re going to get barrelled.’

 I was very confident, so I stuck with it. And I’m glad I did because it felt so, so good to get spit out. 

Related: The Jaws Gallery You've All Been Waiting For

Best wave of your life at Jaws?
For sure. I got a pretty big one two years ago during the contest. It was a similar swell – a growing swell, really powerful, with long period. But I was paddling then. I just had a straight line, but no barrel. And this one was better, obviously, because of the barrel. 

I wanted to get more, but at the same time I was so tired from these last few weeks. The crew told me: ‘You’re not going to get a better one today. For sure you could get a bigger one, but not a better one than that.’ So, I had a voice in my head telling me that I should rest. I was able to get some waves the day after, too, and that was good. I was happy with that. 

You want to talk technical ability? Look how high Justine was in this thing. A true master of the craft.

You want to talk technical ability? Look how high Justine was in this thing. A true master of the craft.

© 2021 - Fred Pompermayer.

Seems like the boundaries of big-wave surfing have been considerably pushed this season. You think that’s true, and how so?
Absolutely. I like the balance between tow and paddle surfing. When it’s that windy at Jaws, it’s perfect to tow. I’m really happy to be able to do both, and to be a part of this group that’s pushing the boundaries. 

Watching Tyler at Jaws, it was so inspiring. He was surfing the waves like they were two meters. It was like he was going for a walk in the garden.

On a tow board, he was pushing the boundaries really hard. Other guys, too, like Kai Lenny and Lucas Chumbo. I really like big-wave surfing going this way of actually surfing the wave. It’s so much more fun, putting the board on rail, and everything like that.

What’s next?
 We’re headed back to Nazaré now. I feel like the Pacific turned on – like, crazy turned on. The Atlantic kind of went off, but I feel like it will turn on again. I need to go reset myself and train, so I will go back to Nazaré to do that. Hopefully I will be able to do some new tricks on waves – but first I need a little bit of a rest. And if the Atlantic doesn’t turn on again, I will come back.

In case you need reminding of Justine's prowess at Nazare...