Pro Spotlight: Sebastian Zietz

This is what a Fun Bender looks like in Seabass’ world. He insists we have time to motor around Hanalei Bay in Billy’s boat, but maybe we should dig out the river for a standing wave then shoot hoops later… Hallucinating with exhaustion, I recall a homegrown promo DVD I’d seen, where a teenage Seabass hams it up for his friends on Oahu. He’s wearing a Santa hat, bouncing on a trampoline, and playing with an RC airplane at the same time. It’s like he’s got ADD, but instead of getting pumped full of drugs and rules, Seabass was prescribed love and saltwater. He never really needed anything else.

Doused with kaleidoscopes of color, Hawaii’s oldest island defies its geologic age of six million years with more open-ocean exposure and break variety than neighboring islands, inviting all shades of youthful bravado—so long as you live here. Outsiders are treated with suspicion, if not hostility, the tough local sentiment reflecting a defiant ancestry. Kauai was the only Hawaiian island to resist Kamehameha’s consolidation efforts until the 1820s (Basically, the currents and locals told the King to beat it.) And there’s a lot to preserve here. If you could concentrate the sensuous magic of this 5,200-foot extinct volcano into a microgram of rainbow syrup and drop it on your shaved ice, you’d be tripping your face off through a psychedelic experience more powerful than LSD and less harmful than rainwater.

But as beautiful as Kauai is, it’s also dangerous: flash floods and mudslides, falling boulders and slippery paths, sketchy roads and faulty structures, the occasional hurricane, gravity… You could die checking your mail here. Like an exposed tooth with roots extending to the heavens and a gnarled, coagulated network of cavities and lava crowns plunging the Pacific, Kauai’s hazards are legion. And that’s before you even get in the water. Let’s not forget this is the same neighborhood where Bethany Hamilton lost an arm to a 14-foot tiger shark; where the Irons brothers, the Wolf Pack, and much of the Pipeline Posse first saw their balls drop as pups. Few places on Planet Earth breed such fearlessness.

Seabass himself wears no badge. No inked-up island entitlement. No metrosexual hipster façade, He’s just a surfer—trunks and sandals, shades and shakas, and not much else. “Sebastian’s definitely not hung up on that trip where it’s cool to be an asshole,” Paul says proudly. “He gets along with everybody and is comfortable in any situation,” Billy adds. “It’s tough to show up somewhere without sufficient rest and then wake up nerve-free for a heat. But Seabass can put everything aside and have fun with it. His low stress level is pretty key, but beyond that he’s got a good soul. It’s contagious, like, ‘Seabass, where you at? Bumming over here. Come hang out with me.’”

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