Tuesday saw the entire crew at the Basque Country Surf Company glued to their screens as Gabriel Medina put on a surfing masterclass in Southern California to clinch his third WSL World title.
Featuring a new single-day, best-of-three heats format, the final stop of the 2021 WSL tour went down in classic five-to-eight-foot waves at Lower Trestles. Facing off against his friend and compatriot Felipe Toledo, Medina didn’t put a foot wrong in the final heat, putting on an airshow that included a huge air reverse and an incredible ‘Flintstone Flip’ off-axis air – only the second ever to be landed in competition.
For Medina, this was the perfect end to a dominant 2021 campaign, having reached event Finals in 5 out of the 7 stops on the men’s Championship Tour.
With three world titles under his belt (2014, 2018, 2021), Gabriel joins an elite cadre of triple-title legends including Mick Fanning, Andy Irons and Tom Curren. It’s a massive personal milestone for Gabriel, who even as an unknown teen phenom, always had the ambition to win three world titles.
“I feel so happy. It is not everyday you accomplish your dream… every dream seems to be impossible until it is done … I had this dream in my mind for a long time.”
– Gabriel Medina
Here at @basquecountrysurf, we have the feeling Gabriel’s world title journey is just beginning!
A world-beating quiver
As Medina’s shaper for over a decade, Johnny Cabianca has developed a unique understanding of the boards his surfer needs for every tour stage.
“Every wave on the tour comes with its own unique set of characteristics, as well as a broad range of possible conditions. Regardless of whether it’s small and onshore, or pumping and offshore, it’s my job to ensure Gabriel has exactly the right tools to do what he does best.”
– Johnny Cabianca
For the past five years, Johnny has been shaping two core models for Gabriel: the DFK 2.0, and The Medina. The DFK 2.0 is a high performance model for technical, powerful surfing, while the Medina is designed for progressive surfing in average conditions – with maximum airtime.
For each event on the tour, Johnny produces a fresh quiver of around 10 boards, each built on the architecture of the DFK 2.0 and the Medina models, and tweaked to match the characteristics of the waves on offer.
With the pressure building up before the 2021 Lowers contest and a third world title within his grasp, Gabriel asked for a board with special characteristics. Johnny tweaked the DFK 2.0 to the point that he decided to make it a new model. It was time to change the game…
Introducing The GAME
Back when Johnny first started shaping surfboards for a certain teen surf prodigy from his hometown of Maresias, he created the DFK – a high performance shortboard designed for the young Brazilian’s light-footed, ultra progressive style. The DFK was the model Medina blasted onto the international scene with in 2009, when he won the prestigious King of the Groms with two perfect 10 scores, where he called him ‘Da Freak Kid’ which gave his surfboard model its name. Fast-forward to today, and Gabriel’s surfing is as progressive as ever, but far more powerful and well-rounded.
With the DFK 2.0 serving Gabriel well in 80% of all conditions and The Medina delivering for weaker waves, Johnny and Gabriel began discussing a new model that would best fill the gap between these two core models.
“For the play-off in Lowers, we were trying to find something magic. Something really responsive, that he could surf more off his back foot. (compared to the DFK) The tail rocker is a little more flat, in combination with a double V under the back foot. There’s a little less concave overall, the volume is about the same, and I developed a new foil with lower rails. We arrived at a super nice new model that we called The Game. The board was working perfectly at Lowers in waves up to five or six feet, and Gabriel told me it’s magic.”
– Johnny Cabianca
Which all means that this week at @basquecountrysurf, it’s a triple celebration – 3 world titles for Gabriel, 5 years since we opened our factory in Zarautz… and a brand new performance model!