Pro Spotlight: Sebastian Zietz

Andy (nobody here refers to him as “AI”) is everywhere in Kauai. His name isn’t brought up in hushed undertones as much as salubrious laughter. The anecdotes aren’t always tragic: That week when Andy showed up at Seabass’ at 4:00 a.m. like clockwork to take him surfing. How Andy would rather bleed than forget a stranger’s name. How he loved people and hated being alone. “The saddest thing for me is remembering him surfing at home,” Seabass says with a sigh. “Whenever you pulled up and saw his truck, you just knew it was on. You didn’t even want to surf, you just wanted to watch. He was so beyond. To never see that again…sucks.”

Up until now, it’s easy to fancy Zietz a free spirit who loves surfing more than being someone’s surfer—like Kauai’s surfer or Oakley’s surfer or the ASP’s surfer. This is the first time he acknowledges desiring a Dream Tour berth for any other reason than spending as much time in the ocean as humanly possible. “After we lost Andy, I felt like I had to step it up to show Kauai still has shredders,” he says. “I got inspired in heats with, ‘Okay, what would Andy do on this wave? Where’s that Andy hack section?’ I don’t expect to be anything near what he was, but I do want to be feared in a heat like he was. Put pressure on people.”

“Seabass is pretty much the opposite of Andy,” Billy admits. “He isn’t aggressive, but his competitive strategy is hilarious. He’ll sit down next to his opponent on the beach and copy the guy’s stretches. He takes things so lightly it just blows their mind. And he loves drawing big names. He just needs to take certain parts of the contests more seriously and develop his man-on-man strategy. He’s been winning smarter heats, though: getting scores with one second left, making guys chase him, tactics like that. And when he’s home he can surf specific spots to train for every spot he’ll find on tour.”

Plus, Seabass has that turn: a mamba-quick, full-rail frontside whip straight out of Fanning The Fire. Speed, power, style, and commitment all blurred by one violent blast of ergonomic fluidity. It’s the kind of turn that, if you got it in your bag like maybe 10 people do, you can religiously translate it to fit any arc at any speed on any wave in the world. When applied right, it’s impossible to ignore or underscore. “Nowadays it seems like a lot of guys surf the same,” says Dustin Barca, who competed on tour in 2009. “Seabass puts that little extra twist on it. Kauai’s like the Malibu of Hawaii—everybody’s a style weirdo around here. Seabass is a perfect fit to represent Kauai on tour because the waves he grew up surfing and the people he grew up surfing with are what made his style what it is today: original. He’s been groomed for the tour because he’s creative in all types of waves.”

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