Ten years of hard work, high quality craftsmanship and friendship came together when Cabianca Surfboards teamrider Gabriel Medina claimed his second World Title by winning the Billabong Pipe Masters in Hawaii.
“I’ve had my shaper Johnny Cabianca with me for so long and when I want to do turns or big airs, there is no one that makes a better surfboard,” Medina said. “I’ve had so much support from my family and sponsors and great surfboards from Johnny all year. It’s all come together for this amazing win.”
“I’ve known Gabriel since he was four years old and have been making surfboards for him for 10 years,” said Johnny Cabianca, who makes surfboards from his base in Zarautz.
“So there’s a deep personal connection with Gabriel and his family. Professionally though it’s hugely rewarding. It feels like all the hard work has helped him in his goal to become the best surfer in the world.”
Cabianca has been friends with Medina’s father Charlie and his mom Simone since they were teenagers surfing their local break of Maresias in Brazil. In 2003 Cabianca moved to the Basque Country to surf and shape surfboards. When Gabriel arrived in France for the first time in 2009 Charlie ordered boards off Cabianca for his hugely gifted son. It would be the start of a ten-year relationship that has helped engineer 13 Championship Tour wins and World Titles in 2014 and 2018.
Johnny initially worked with Gabriel with the support of Pukas, but in 2015 decided to start to work under his own Cabianca Surfboards label. At the time, despite numerous lucrative offers from some the world’s biggest surfboard manufacturers, Medina elected to stick with Cabianca.
“2015 was a real transition year in my life,” says Cabianca. “I went back to live in my hometown of Maresias and set up a small shaping bay and made boards for Gabriel and all the locals,” he said. “It was great to reconnect with the Brazilian surf culture as well as work really closely with Gabriel and Charlie. It set us up for his next World Title challenge.”
Cabianca returned to Europe in 2016 and started the Basque Country Surf Company with local big wave legend and shaper Mikel Agote. It is from a new factory in Zarautz that Cabianca handcrafts high performance surfboards as well as shortboards, twin fins, fun boards, big wave guns and retro boards for surfers of all levels from all over the world.
It is a family-run business at heart, but one based on providing quality, handmade surfboards through cutting-edge technology and premium materials. However it is his work with Medina that drives his high performance research and development.
“I make Gabriel ten boards for each CT event, so around 120 boards a year,” says Cabianca. Gabriel has two main models the dFK and the Medina. “It’s a real team effort. I make the boards, Gabriel surfs them and Charlie provides me with incredible feedback and analysis,” explained Cabianca.
“Although as Gabriel is getting older, he is getting way more technical. He also really knows the volumes and shapes he likes. It’s a continual process of refinement that’s been going on for a decade.”
Cabianca also provides the surfboards for the Instituto Medina, a high performance training and educational facility in Maresias, as well as for Gabriel’s younger sister, Sophia, whose goal is also to become a World Champion. During his three decades of shaping experience Cabianca has focused on making high quality surfboards that perfectly suit the person riding them. Yesterday one of those riders, Gabriel Medina, clinched an historic second World Title.