“I felt physically sick going into Pipe. I was more nervous than John John. At least he had some control over his own destiny.” No, this wasn’t a revealing insight from a nauseous Gabriel Medina about his World Title race run in. It was from Jase Davies, the winner of last years WSL Fantasy League. 

Davies, originally from just outside Melbourne, but now a resident of Swan Hill, on the Murray River about four hours drive inland from the coast, beat an estimated 100,000 other Fantasy League entrants to come home with the title under his playing name Jase Jase Florence. That fantasy race, as we’ll come to later, was arguably more exciting than the real Florence’s anti-climatic crawl over the line. 

Davies has been playing the league with the same group of mates since 2014, but it wasn’t till this year that he hit started climbing the rankings. Think of him as the Wade Carmichael of the Fantasy realm. “It was around Rio that I looked and saw I was 7th and couldn’t believe it,” he says. “Then after Fiji I was in first and I held on to the yellow jersey all the way through JBay, Trestles, Tahiti and France. Then I had a horror run through Europe and dropped to second. I thought it was over,” he says, in a quote that could have also come from Jordy Smith. 

By the time Pipe rolled around, Davies was in second, 66 points behind the leader. “You pick eight surfers for each event, but you don’t know what the other guys have picked till the event starts when you can’t make any changes,” he explains as only a man who spent an average of three hours per event on picking his team can. “When Pipe started I found out the leader had picked seven of the same surfers as me. I couldn’t believe it.”

Jase Jase in Fiji, on the way to his title.

Davies had picked Flores, the leader went with Bourez. Jase Jase needed Bourez to fall early and the Frenchman to go deep in the event to make up the 66 points. “I was work at the morning and I seriously felt sick. The boys in the office put it on because I told them what stage it was at and I couldn’t even look at it,” says Jase, who works in disability employment. “When Bourez lost in Round 3, Flores needed a heat score of 9.24 in his quarterfinal for me to win,” he continues breathlessly. “After 12 minutes he hadn’t caught a wave. I finally cracked, turned the app on and watched as Jeremy pulled into this huge barrel was spat out and got a nine. I was doing fist-pumps in the office. I swear it was one of the best moments of my life. And I’ve had kids.” 

You also sense Jase Jase’ celebration at the Swan Hill RSL would have shit all over John John’s piss poor efforts in his backyard at Pipe. Jase then waited for the call from the WSL with details of his winnings. It never came. 

“I emailed first and got no response,” he says. “After about three weeks I called the Queensland Office and they told me no prize existed.”  Now given the resources pumped into the event and the huge interest and numbers involved, that seems pretty lame. “I didn’t expect any cash, I just wanted a keepsake, or a memento,” he says. “Something that proves I won it in 2017 and that I can show the kids down the track. That’s not too much too ask, is it? 

Over to you WSL...