Pro Spotlight: Sebastian Zietz

While the past two years have thrown some bogging sections Seabass’ way—broken foot and sprained ankle—he recovered smoothly in 2012, dumping his girlfriend and flying to Oahu to go mad at the Da Hui Backdoor Shootout. He calls that “the best contest ever,” but his best result happened this May in Brazil, where he gained 3,320 points for a quarterfinal finish at the Quiksilver Saquarema Prime, vaulting him to 44th on the World Ranking. He travels with fellow Hawaiians Kai Barger and Granger Larsen but is rarely alone. If it isn’t industry entourages on the road, it’s the aunties at home, whom Seabass never wastes an opportunity to chat with on his way to the water.

Once immersed, Seabass morphs into a more sinister animal. You barely see him—just tail and fin and spray in the periphery. And you never hear him—only the thwacking displacement of seawater. He picks off insiders to get loose, methodically sending his wave count through the roof before slithering over and ruling the peak. Then he spins on a surprise bump on the way back out, grabs another set, and another, and so forth until he’s hammering the flaccid whitewash to the sand. Growing up in tight quarters with a huge family before choosing a career based on visibility—this is the only place where Seabass is ever alone.

“Surfing’s not a social sport for me,” he admits. “I’d rather just cruise by myself, catch waves, and not talk or think. That’s my happy place.” Other than the money to pay the family’s power bill this morning, Seabass has no idea how much cash he has in his pocket of the same boardshorts he’s worn for two weeks straight. As his mother Joanne chimes in, “Sebastian’s no material girl. But he can dance to it.”

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