Golf Coast surfer back in world tour
JACK Freestone is the sole Gold Coast male flying the flag on the World Surf League Championship Tour since the retirement of world champs Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson.
The Tugun-based father of two-year-old Banks, and partner of Bank’s mother Alana Blanchard, is back on the world tour after grabbing the last spot on the World Qualifying Series.
Freestone, who won ASP World Junior titles back in 2010 and 2012, qualified for the men’s championship tour in 2016.
Despite some good results, his inconsistency saw the natural footer fall off the world tour.
This is not an uncommon occurrence for first-year qualifiers but then to requalify via the rigorous WQS series is another ballgame entirely.
The son of the famous rugby league star and a sporting mum had the competitive genes necessary to fight his way back in events that count namely the 10,000 WQS events.
Jack’s first break was in South Africa with a runner-up position and then a third in Spain giving him a glimmer of hope but he would have to finish off strongly in the final two Hawaiian 10,000 events.
The pressure must have been intense and the first event at Haleiwa didn’t go his way bowing out in the third round in equal 33rd.
So it was down to the final event at Sunset Beach, held in powerful double to triple head shifting peaks that suited Jack in the past.
North Stradbroke Island’s Ethan Ewing also fell off the tour and was locked in for a final fight to qualify but fell short when eliminated in the early rounds.
Jack now had a shot to bypass Ewing for the 10th qualifying spot and, by reaching the quarter finals, Jack’s comeback was complete.
The first official word that Jack had requalified was announced proudly by his Hawaiian partner, Alana, on Instagram, much to the delight to fans worldwide and especially those on the Gold Coast.
Treated like rock stars or royalty, they have thousands of social media followers.
They epitomise the new surfing superstars with baby Banks in tow.
Blanchard, a former world tour competitor, was granted a wildcard entry in the women’s final event at Honolua Bay, creating a massive upset by defeating number two Lakey Peterson, that paved the way for Stephanie Gilmore’s seventh world title.
At the annual Surfer Magazine poll awards in Hawaii, Alana was voted as best women’s surfer in the world and Jack was voted as the number two male behind most Hawaii’s John John Florence.
This year’s WSL’S Snapper Rocks event, now renamed the Gold Coast Pro, starts later in April when Jack turns 27 – that would be a nice bonus present to win first event of the year.
ON A HIGH: The Gold Coast’s Jack Freestone has fought his way back onto the WSL World Tour after making the quarter finals of the Vans World Cup at Sunset Beach in Hawaii. Inset: Jack Freestone and his son, Banks.