design forum

What He Rode: Gabriel Medina

Johnny Cabianca breaks down Gabriel Medina's winning Snapper stick

| posted on March 20, 2014
Medina's equipment is designed to suit his quick, vertical backside and diverse aerial repertoire. Photo: Joli

Medina’s equipment is designed to suit his quick, vertical backside and diverse aerial repertoire. Photo: Joli

HEIGHT: 5’11” (180 cm)
WEIGHT: 164 lbs (74.4 kg)

SHAPER: Johnny Cabianca
LENGTH: 5’9″
WIDTH: 19″
VOLUME: 26.22L
NOSE WIDTH: 12 5/16″
TAIL WIDTH: 14 3/4″
TAIL: Swallow
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)
SWEEP: 33.7º
FOIL: Inside

Despite Snapper Rocks being a pointbreak, Medina's board was designed for beachbreak conditions. Photos: Joli

Despite Snapper Rocks being a pointbreak, Medina’s board was designed for beachbreak conditions. Photos: Joli

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.

By making the cut out of the swallow shallower than normal, the board effectively acts like a squash. Photo: Joli

By making the cut out of the swallow shallower than normal, the board effectively acts like a squash. Photo: Joli

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.

  • f*** yeah

    looks really fun. Would have to order it with a few more liters in volume to accomodate all of my… err… sumptuosity, but still, would love to give a go at one of those!

  • Paul

    Great shaper!

  • Akhil

    This guy is a champion. An absolute champion. He is the best surfer, better than me and you. Especially you. Best thing that has come to the world of action sports since waves over the reef.

    • Yassine

      I agree Medina is an absolute Champ and it will make me very happy when he wins his world title. But please let’s not make EVERY comment section about who’s better than whom. Otherwise those boards look sick and I want one now.

  • Spitting pit

    How can that board be 5’9 if it’s taller than him on the picture and he is 5’11?

    • flashorton

      I think that’s something called perspective. Things closer to the camera appear larger than those further away.

  • whamo

    The best is yet to come. When the tour hits the big lefts this guy shines. He resembles Gerry Lopez when the lefts get big and hollow.

  • pyzel

    Johnny is a great shaper who works his ass off and I am stoked to see him get some of the recognition that he deserves! good for you Johnny!