What He Rode: Gabriel Medina
Johnny Cabianca breaks down Gabriel Medina's winning Snapper stick
HEIGHT: 5’11” (180 cm)
WEIGHT: 164 lbs (74.4 kg)
SHAPER: Johnny Cabianca
MODEL: The GAME
THICKNESS: 2 1/4″
NOSE WIDTH: 12 5/16″
TAIL WIDTH: 14 3/4″
NOSE ROCKER: 4 3/4″
TAIL ROCKER: 2″
CONCAVE: Nearly flat with vee in the tail
GLASSING: 4 oz. all around with tail patch on deck (E-glass)
FINS: FCS Performer II
HEIGHT: 4.55″ (115mm)
BASE: 4.37″ (111mm)
AREA: 14.81″² (9554mm²)
What was the model that Gabriel rode during the final at Snapper?
The GAME, which is a model I developed in 2010 for “shit” conditions—mostly beachbreaks.
Was he riding that board for the majority of the event?
Yes, from start to finish.
Was this board made specifically with Snapper in mind?
I was preparing the quiver for Snapper and, as always, we made some special adjustments to the design for the event. Nothing incredibly drastic though.
What are some important design elements needed for a board to work well in waves like that?
In my opinion, Snapper can be compared to powerful beachbreaks with faster and slower sections. The board should be very versatile and able to adapt to the different sections. I try to use the design components of beachbreak boards—flat rocker, no deep concave, vee under the back foot—and mix it up with what I like to do most: changing the fin positions.
Can you tell us a little bit about that tail?
I call that a fake swallow because it is only 1/4″ deep. It’s more of a square tail than a true deep swallow. It works really well at low velocity, and the rail through the swallow is really low and thin, which helps you do more powerful turns in those conditions.
How many boards do you typically make for Gabriel for the World Tour season?
He uses around 60 or 70 boards a year, which actually isn’t that many if you compare him to other surfers on Tour. I am doing 95 percent of his boards, I believe it’s important he tries boards from different shapers as well.
How long have you been shaping boards for Gabriel and what is that relationship like?
I shaped his first board when he was 9 years old because we came from the same beach in Brazil. I watched him grow up and I have a really good relationship with his family. After I moved to Europe in 2000 and was traveling the world, we lost contact until about 2009 when his dad Charles called me to prepare a quiver for the King of the Groms event in Hossegor. Since then we’ve been working together very closely.
In most heats, Gabriel’s airs are his biggest strength. How does that translate into the boards you make for him?
Gabriel has talent in many different conditions, but he’s loved to fly since he was a kid. I try to work on making faster boards because I believe that more speed is the key to more expressive surfing and bigger airs. Most of the time a professional surfer tries one of my boards, their feedback is that the boards are really fast but a little hard to turn. But after a session or two, most surfers start to love the way they can move the boards and explore new lines. Gabriel basically uses three different models. The dFK (da Freak Kid), the GAME, and MEGA. Every contest he’s won since 2009 and all his best results up to now were on one of those models.