Surfing has always played host to a cast of colorful characters, and today, Sebastian Zietz is adding to that legacy. In a matter of months, Zietz went from just a dancing, three-thumbed surfer from Kauai to one of the biggest names in the sport. He announced himself to the surfing world in grand fashion in 2012, winning the Triple Crown of Surfing (and qualifying for the WSL World Tour) and being carried up the beach by friends and family aboard a big-wave gun. It's a celebration still talked about to this day – and it was 100 percent in the character of the man the world calls Seabass.
Growing up on Kauai and looking to the likes of Danny Fuller, Dustin Barca, the Irons brothers and his own brothers for inspiration, Zietz developed the full arsenal of wave-riding maneuvers. He’s as comfortable launching a massive air at Pine Trees as he is pulling in under the lip of a Backdoor bomb. After finally obtaining a passport (long story), Zietz was ready to travel the world and compete amongst the best surfers in the world. With a couple seasons on the Dream Tour under his belt, Zietz is now ready to establish himself among the best in the world – but the success isn’t changing him. The guy wants to win heats and contests, and maybe even one day a world title, but he’s going to have a good time along the way – making jokes on the webcast, showing off dance moves and putting a smile on the faces of everyone around him.
Oakley, Future Fins, Channel Islands, Sobe, Sol Republic, Sony
Getting the dance party started!
The last couple years have been a whirlwind of promo shoots and non-stop competition for Australia’s Julian Wilson. Since qualifying for the WSL World Tour in 2011, he’s been circling the globe and living the glamorous life of a prodigious talent and heart-throb (have you seen the way the young ladies scream when he’s near?!). Along the way, Julian has proved himself more than an aerialist or performance wave specialist. There was the historic tow session during the Code Red swell at Teahupo’o in 2011, where Julian was one of the few Tour guys to charge the ferocious conditions on hand, and then his first-ever WCT win at Portugal in 2012, where he proved that he can compete with the best in the world.
The accolades have certainly been many over the years: attempting and landing the world’s first “Sushi Roll” (2007); the youngest-ever recipient of the Surfer Poll award for “Best Performance of the Year” for his part in Quiksilver’s “Young Guns III” (2008); and Pipeline Masters and Triple Crown Champion (2014). Between his competitive fire and desire to improve, there’s no reason to believe the momentum will cease any time soon.
Aside from his surfing talents, Julian is also an ambassador for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. His mother is a breast cancer survivor, so Julian is known to ride pink boards and integrate teh color in his signature products with sponsors.
Hurley, Red Bull, Oakley, FCS, Sol Republic, Team Pink, Audi
Gold, skating, moto, longboarding
Jordy Smith is South Africa’s next claim to surfing fame. Preceded by the great Shaun Tomson and Martin Potter, if another world title is going to be won anytime soon by a Saffa, it’ll most certainly have Jordy’s name inscribed on it. With a style that is a combination of raw power and limitless aerial and high-performance ability, Smith is that rare all-around talent spoken among the Slaters, Reynolds and Wilsons of the current landscape.
Born and raised in Durban, South Africa to a shaper father, Jordy was introduced to and surfed alongside some of the great talents of the generation before him when they passed through to surf J-Bay or any of the country’s quality beachbreaks. He arrived on the WSL World Tour in 2009, after finishing first on the World Qualifying Series (WQS) and just a year later finished the WCT season runner-up to only Kelly Slater (11 world titles to his name).
When he’s not putting together solid results on the WCT, Smith is regularly pumping out popular web clips and in 2012 released his first signature film, “Bending Colours.”
O’Neill, Red Bull, Oakley, Channel Islands, Neff, Futures, Vestal
It didn’t take long for San Clemente-born ripper Kolohe “Brother” Andino to begin to have an influence on the surfing world. With his smooth, new-school style, Andino has established and maintained a position in the spotlight for nearly a decade. Everyone is watching – from groms to the media to seasoned A-list pros. His supreme natural talent mixed with his passion, good genes (son to surf legend Dino Andino) and determination have resulted in some major results and a spot on the prestigious WSL World Tour. A spot on the Dream Tour hasn’t stifled Andino’s desire to improve and continue to innovate. He’s still traveling the world in pursuit of bigger, more perfect waves to refine his barrel-riding in order to make himself as well rounded a surfing threat as possible as he pushes for a world title.
Red Bull, Hurley, Oakley, Target, Skullcandy, Mayhem Surfboards, Astrodeck, Neff, Tweeds
Count Filipe Toledo among the young generation of supremely talented surfers that effectively busted down whatever remaining doors stood in the path of the "Brazilian Storm." Much like his peers, he can't be defined simply. The stereotype of a high-flying, hyper-passionate surfer is no longer the status quo. Sure, the kid has airs and Brazilian pride, but he has also demonstrated a fluent rail game, power and flow – you know, all those other elements the judges like to see. Hence, his US Open and Quik Pro Gold Coast wins. Filipe has made his intentions known: now that his compatriot, Gabriel Medina, has shown his fellow countrymen the way, he wants to be the next to add a world championship to his legacy.
Hurley, Monster Energy, Sharp Eye surfboards, Oakley, Panasonic, Nike
After winning 11 world titles, it's safe to say that Kelly Slater knows a thing or two about competitive surfing, and what he knew when he first saw São Paulo’s Adriano Elias de Souza surf in competition, was that one day he'd be surfing against the guy on the World Tour.
Adriano started surfing at the age of eight, but within two years was already competing. At 15, the press were calling him the next great hope for Brazilian surfing. But, it was in 2003 that Adriano really snagged the world's attention, when 'Mineirinho' (as he's known) became the world junior champion at just 16.
Adriano qualified for the WSL World Tour in 2006, and has only finished outside the top 10 once since. The man is a performer. He has multiple WCT wins and has three times finished fifth (2009, 2011 and 2012) in the world title ratings. In 2015, his greatest dream came true when he defied the odds and became the second-ever Brazilian to become a World Champion and followed the up with his first-ever Billabong Pipeline Masters win.
Adriano surfs with more passion than anyone else on tour, period. He'll ride each wave like it was his last and wears his heart on his sleeve. It's for this reason that audiences all over the world respect him.
HD, Oakley, Red Bull, Mitsubishi, Skullcandy, FCS, Gorilla Grip
Editing Videos, Training
Jadson Andre constantly seeks improvement. Whether it’s his English, his mental game or his backside attack, the master aerialist from Natal City, Brazil isn’t going to settle for anything less than exceptional. Since qualifying for the WSL World Tour in 2010, he’s remained one of the most dynamic guys in every event. He fully established himself as a deserving contender during his rookie season, when he won the Billabong Pro Santa Catarina by defeating none other than Kelly Slater in the final.
Originally aiming to become a professional soccer player (by his parents wishes), Andre was introduced to surfing by an uncle and decided to change his life's trajectory. All his effort and focus went to surfing and he rose from modest beginnings to the pinnacle of surfing. A legit threat in any kind of conditions the WSL World Tour throws at him, Andre is now a permanent fixture on the pro circuit.
Oakley, FCS, Gorilla Grip, RM Surfboards
In the 21st century, Brazil has proven to be a hotbed for high-performance surfing. It's been churning out World Tour pros and next-big-things at as regular a rate as the USA and Australia – and maybe even more consistently. Caio Ibelli is one of the top young talents to emerge, announcing himself when he became the ASP World Junior Champion in 2012 and then solidifying his presence among the world's best when he qualified for the 2016 World Tour.
Raised on the fickle beachbreaks around Sao Paulo, Ibelli has his air game on lock, but it's all the other facets of his skillset that set him apart from the Brazilian contingent. The guy also has a power game and is a proven barrel rider, which makes him a dangerous threat on every stop of the WSL circuit.
Oakley, RM Surfboards
Playing Guitar, Soccer
Growing up in the coastal town of Santa Barbara, Calif., Conner Coffin has always had a love for the ocean. His passion for surfing started at a very early age, much of which he credits to his dad, who was pushing him into waves when he was only in kindergarten. Since that first dip, there has been no stopping him. With access to some of the most renowned spots on the California coast – Rincon, Leadbetter and a couple spots in Ventura – and surrounded by talented surfers (Bobby Martinez and Dane Reynolds, among many others), Coffin has been hard at work making his name known on the world’s surfing scene.
Coffin’s smooth, clean and powerful style comes from years of growing up surfing those famous point-breaks. After a few (what seemed like) calculated years biding his time, traveling the world, putting together video parts (www.YoungWiseTails.com) and enjoying the ride, he committed whole-heartedly to qualifying in 2015 and he did just that. Look for him to be competing with the big boys in 2016.
Hurley, Monster Energy, Oakley, Reef, Channel Islands, Etnies, Frends, Sex Wax
Reading, Writing, Playing Guitar, Cooking, Eating, Fishing, Travelling
Seems like there’s forever a new next big thing coming out of Brazil lately, and Italo Ferreira is certainly in that conversation. The guy seemingly arose from nowhere, qualifying for the WSL World Tour is what seemed like his first full qualifying campaign in 2014. In doing so he unveiled that there are very few chinks in his armor (we'll see how he holds up in macking reef barrels come mid-year). Expect to enjoy his lightning-quick, well amplfied game on tour for years to come.
Kanoa Igarashi is a star on the rise. Part of a youth vanguard that features Jack Robinson, Kai Hing and more, Kanoa has long been touted as a talent, and now he's starting to deliver. A prodigious talent who was groomed among the talent-rich lineups of Huntington Beach, Kanoa has been on the radar of the global surf industry almost since the moment he stepped on a board (see Florence, John John).
Following a decorated amateur and junior career, Kanoa is seen as one of the headliners of the next generation of surfing royalty. Still a teenager, he's splitting his time between traveling for photo shoots with a healthy, but not over-the-top schedule of Qualifiying Series contests in hopes of landing a spot on the prestigious WSL World Tour. Stay tuned.
Quiksilver, Channel Islands, Oakley, Red Bull, Ocean & Earth, Sex Wax
Golf, Fishing, Music, Traveling, Meeting New People
Growing up surfing the challenging breaks along Oahu’s North Shore, and then moving on to the many pointbreaks and beachbreaks around her current home in Ventura, Calif., Sage Erickson unearthed a raw, well-rounded talent that’s led to a spot in surfing’s big leagues. After years of dominating the NSSA and Pro Junior circuits, she qualified for the Women’s WSL World Tour in 2012. Already an adept international competitor, Sage has also shown that she’s equally comfortable conducting on-camera interviews or hosting a fashion show in front of a crowd full of screaming fans.
Still in her early 20s, Sage has just begun to unveil her limitless potential for growth in and around this life she’s created as a professional surfer, occasional model and artistically-gifted young woman. She’s fashion savvy, a coffee addict and one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet. Sage has arrived and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
Oakley, Channel Islands, Freestyle
Art, photography, traveling, exercising
Nikki Van Dijk was on the cusp of qualifying for the WSL Women’s World Tour for a couple of years – as a teenager. After winning the WSL World Junior Title with a solid performance in Bali in 2012, confidence seemed to kick in. She had her most consistent season on the Qualifying Series in 2013, punctuated with a win at the final women’s 6-Star event of the year, the Pantin Classic Galicia Pro in Spain.
She qualified. She's arrived. But Nikki was never a "newcomer" to the Tour, having received wildcards into the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach and the Beachley Classic in the past. Now a full-time WCTer, she's taking notes, the occasional heat win and progressing toward becoming a true event and title threat.
“The best part will be surfing against the best women surfers in the world and showing the world how I can surf," Nikki told Surfer Magazine. "And of course traveling the world, learning, and growing. I think I’ll be a fun a new face to the Tour.”
Rip Curl, Channel Islands, Oakley, Komunity
Tom Whitaker’s father moved his family from England to Oz to raise his three sons to become the best Rugby players in Australia. He succeeded with Tom’s brother, Chris, who was a member of the Wallabies, the Australian national team that defeated France to win the Rugby World Cup. But something went wrong with Tom, who heeded the call of the sunny surf, and by age 13, he was entering (and winning) competitions around Sydney.
An all-around athlete, but especially masterful in the water, "Whits" spent three years on the ASP World Qualifying Series before making the World Tour in 2003. Boasting a style that features classic rail work as well as progressive fin-free maneuvers, Whitaker has proven he has the goods to dissect all conditions with precision and finesse.
With an easy-going personality and wealth of knowledge and training and surfing, he's evolved into an ambassador/mentor/coach role. He’s a mentor to all the groms he surfs with on the Gold Coast, passing on a stellar work ethic and a sunny outlook on life.
Oakley, Rod Dahlberg Surfboards, Modum
Footie, Family Time
Billy Stairmand was once "an unheralded surfer from New Zealand" who took out 11-time world champ Kelly Slater at a surf contest. These days, Stairmand is one of the top New Zealand talents on the World Qualifying Series, accruing ever-important points and moving his way up the rankings. With a couple more decent results, that unheralded surfer can very likely land a spot on the World Tour, where he'll surely be known once and for all.
A talented aerialist and an undervalued power surfer, Stairmand has managed to put his smallish frame to full use. He's the life of every lineup and regularly turning the head of anyone in the area. Haling from Raglan, Stairmand groomed his full repertoire surfing the points and beachies the country is renowned for.
Oakley, Hughes Surfboards, DVS, FCS, Gorilla Grip, Raglan Surf Co.
Playing Music, Traveling