TWO-time Surfest Pro junior champion Jake Sylvester says he is “very lucky” to be back chasing another wildcard win into the Burton Automotive Pro after recovering from a frightening head injury suffered almost a year ago.
Sylvester claimed the wildcard into the 6000-point World Surf League qualifying series event from trials at Birubi Beach last year and will return for another chance on Saturday.
The 24-year-old, a former Australasian Pro Junior champion, bowed out in his first heat last year in the main event on his home break of Merewether.
A few days later, he was in hospital after a late-night incident outside a Newcastle West pub left him with a fractured skull and fears of brain injury. The lifesaver and University of Newcastle student was released from hospital four days later and has made a full recovery.
“It’s all been really positive,” Sylvester said. “I had a couple of slow weeks, just getting myself back together, but other than that, I’ve had no turnarounds.
“I just eased back into surfing and I was back working on the beach two or three weeks after that. I was very lucky. You see a lot of people have the same sort of injury and end up a lot worse.”
He no longer competes on the QS but was keen to have another shot at Surfest.
“I usually just have a crack at the trials,” he said. “It’s nice and close to home and it’s always good to surf in front of my home crowd, but it’s the only thing I’ve really got going.
“As far as giving it a full crack, I think I’m pretty happy doing what I’m doing. I’m still surfing flat out. I don’t know how good I’m surfing but it would be nice to get some waves on the weekend.”
Merewether clubmate Philippa Anderson lost 14-13.17 to Silvana Lima in round five of the 6000-pt Ron Jon Florida Pro on Tuesday.
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