Pro Spotlight: Sebastian Zietz

“Having so many siblings,” he explains, “anything I ever cared about, a sister would steal or a brother would break. My parents always had that objects-are-nothing mentality. One time on the boat, we had a Super Nintendo. My sister and I started fighting over it, so my dad unplugged it and threw it overboard, like, ‘There goes your fancy video game. Now you can back to rock-paper-scissors.’ After a while, you just learn to be happy with what you got.”

Seabass is playing on the floor now with his tiny nephew Hayden, which frees up Hailey, herself a former Olympic-trained athlete, to answer the million-dollar question: Can someone so carefree and social summon the killer instinct required to compete at the sport’s elite level? “I think Sebastian not having those issues and stressors actually gives him an advantage,” Hailey says. “His mind is clear of clutter, so he can channel everything into surfing.”

Sebastian doesn’t hear us talking. He’s busy training for South Africa. Little Hayden’s not exactly a bocce ball, but he’s a pretty heavy airplane in his uncle’s arms. “Ring Around the Rosey” isn’t MMA, but when you attack family hour like the Zietzes—who still pay rent but own the rights to love and laughter—you will break a sweat.

Make no mistake, this is serious stuff. This is important. “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands…”

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