Jean Paul with another trophy to put onto the mantle back home.
Sharks scare the hell out of most surfers, they’re always in the back of our minds when we paddle out to a new or remote spot, and although the experts say that you’re more likely to get struck by lightning or hit by a car than to be attacked, most of us don’t walk down the street with thoughts of car accidents or lightning strikes in the back of our minds. Unfortunately the car accident:shark attack ratio stat is true and tragedy did strike for Slummies surfer Jean-Paul Veaudry almost two years ago when he was knocked from his motorcycle one night. Unfortunately for him as a result of the accident JP suffered the loss of his right leg below the knee. Not one to let something like this hold him back, Jean-Paul picked himself up, started surfing again and is ripping, recently taking out his second consecutive win in an international surfing competition. The man is an inspiration and the Zag sat down recently to grill him about surfing, life and getting back on the horse…
ZAG: So JP, you’ve just gone two-for-two taking out back-to-back wins in California at the WSA Surfing Championships, was this year tougher or easier than last year?
JP: It was easier in the fact that there were less participants than last year, but harder in the fact that it was WAY smaller surf than the previous year.
Tell us about the event. Who organises it and what is it about?
Western Surfing Association (WSA) Gatorade Championship, 12-13 Febraury 2011, Huntington Beach Pier. The main sponsor being Gatorade. It was quiet a big contest with all categories ranging from tiny groms right up to old ballies, long boarders, chicks, etc.
Last year the event was held at Trestles. Many people say that Trestles is one of the most rippable waves in the world. What do you reckon?
Well yes, I have heard that too, except I’ve never seen or surfed Trestles more than waist high. The water is also colder than Cape Town and when you can’t feel your feet, or foot ha ha, it makes it hard to be rippable.
This year they moved the event to Huntington Beach, some say it’s the real Surf City. Was it like a scene from Baywatch?
Ha ha, yes it did look like the setting, without Jimmy Slade, Pamela Anderson and thank goodness, David Hasselhoff.
Huntington Beach, scene of JP’s victory.
What boards are you riding? Do they have to be modified for surfing with a prosthetic?
When I first started surfing again I was riding boards slightly longer, but now that I’ve adapted I’m riding normal sized boards. My prosthetic is really solid and hard and it damages my tail on take-off, so Clayton modifies my board by giving me a carbon fibre tail. The board I rode in the contest was 6’0″ and went like a dream.
I heard you surfed some pretty solid 8-foot plus Nahoon Reef the other day. Was that the biggest surf you’ve had since the accident and surfing with a prosthetic? Also I am quite curious as to whether there is any risk of losing the prosthetic during a big wipeout or are they pretty securely attached?
8 foot…really? Is that 8 prosthetic feet? Ha ha ha. Yeah, it was pretty sizey and a bit nerve-wracking as my take-offs are not what they used to be. As far as losing my prosthetic, its strapped on pretty tight, so there is no chance of that.
Jean Paul sets his line for a bit of tube time.
What exactly is it like surfing with a prosthetic? Is there anything you find particularly difficult to do?
You mean besides stand? Ha ha. Jumping up is a bit slow, I obviously have no feeling in my back foot which makes it tricky and also scared to do big manoeuvres and I definitely bail out on a lot of hard landings.
You lost your leg when you got knocked off your motorcycle by an unidentified motorist. Have you got “back on the horse” so to speak and purchased a new motorcycle?
Yes I have, I love my bike! Have you ever had a car accident… did you get rid of your car? People often ask me, why would you ride a bike when your more vulnerable on the road, as I’m sure people have asked you and I why would you surf knowing that there’s sharks? I think that the answer to both of those questions would be because it’s fun.
There are some great pictures of you on your Facebook page posing in the snow in the States like a stoked grommie, was it your first time in snow and did you do any snowboarding?
I once saw man-made snow at Tiffendale but yes this was the first time I’ve seen real snow and no unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to tear up the powder.
I found it amazing how that when I was in the States I could surf all day, hang out at the beach in boardies and then in 25 minutes from where I was staying, you can go snowboarding or build a snow man.
Smile if it’s your first time in real snow…
The saying goes that everything is bigger in the States. What is your take on this?
Yes most definitely, the meals, people, cars, highways, crowds, talent, are all bigger… just not the waves.
You work as a photographer and have supplied us with some great bikini babe images over the years. How’s the job satisfaction?
I love my job and yeah, like any job it has its pros and cons.
If you could, or had to swap, what would be your job of choice?
Anyone has the choice to change their career, but no I wouldn’t and couldn’t think of anything I would rather be doing, except maybe being the editor of Zigzag, who gets much more time to surf, ha ha ha (If only you knew – ED)
Nice one JP, any shoutouts or disses you’d like to make before you sign off?
Disses; our municipality and anyone else who continues to pollute our oceans and beaches!
Shoutouts; to all my friends, family, clients and sponsors, for all their continued support, I don’t think I would have achieved as much as I have without it. There’s a comment from Dave Fish that always plays in my head whenever I’m feeling lazy or debating whether or not I should go surf, he said, “Just remember when you were in hospital and all those months you were on crutches and you couldn’t surf…” Needless to say within the next ten minutes I’m suited up and paddling out!