Eithan Osborne Belongs On The 2003 World Tour - Stab Mag

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Photo by World Surf League/Nichols

Eithan Osborne Belongs On The 2003 World Tour

But he’s gotten an invite to the 2022 Vans Pipe Masters, so we caught up with him just days before the event.

features // Dec 7, 2022
Words by Holden Trnka
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Editors Note:  Usually, an interview of this depth with a surfer of this caliber would live behind our medieval moat known as the “Premium Paywall.” However, due to the proximity of the Vans Pipe Masters, we decided to give our entire audience a taste of it’s newest invitee — Eithan Osborne. Enjoy.

Everyone loves a rebel. 

As fun as it is to watch well-stretched weapons like Italo Ferreira and Filipe Toledo use their fine-tuned technique and strategy to win heats, it just might be more satisfying to see a hungover, stiff Eithan Osborne flinging his fins around and still getting 8’s. The Venturan’s unintentional ethos of all-or-nothing degeneracy flies in the face of everything the WSL stands for, and he’s quickly becoming the most lovable Challenger Series warrior.

After the Billabong boat trip of his life — where he landed that air reverse — Eithan serendipitously received an alternate spot at the third Challenger Series event of the year, in South Africa. He carried his Mentawai momentum into the comp, and came away with a 9th. 

Confidence bolstered, the 22-year old headed to Huntington, and hacked his way through the talent riddled Challenger Series field — falling short only to Zeke Lau in the semifinals.

In just two events, Eithan had garnered more points than most others had in four.

Though he couldn’t find a following result to secure CT qualification — and fell out of Haleiwa in controversial fashion to Mikey McDonagh —the fire was lit, and his core fanbase grows.

Eithan’s surfing, and his likelihood of grabbing a Coors before a coconut water, would feel appropriate next to Dingo and Damo on the 2003 ASP World Tour. A direct product of the same harbor wedges that created Dane Reynolds, Eithan is well on his way to becoming professional surfing’s most prominent modern miscreant.

To top off his season, Eithan has just been invited as an injury replacement for the impending Vans Pipe Masters.

Curious to know what his competitive plans are, we caught up with Mr. Osborne while he waited for his Foodland poke bowl to arrive. The conversation wandered between (nonexistent) heat strategy, Dane Reynolds advice, and who he wants in his VPM heats.

We think you’ll enjoy.

Stab: Did you expect to get a Vans Pipe Masters invite?

Uh no, I’m psyched. I knew I was maybe an alternate, but not the first alternate [laughs]. I got a text yesterday, so I’m pretty excited. 

Yeah I think a lot of people are excited to see you in it. It feels like you have potential to be the competitive surfing anti-hero. You’ve done well on the Challenger Series, almost made tour, and you’re not the build-a-house, exercise bike sort of surfer. Did your results this year on the Challenger Series make you want to keep competing?

It was a weird feeling, doing well. Especially since I missed the first two, and got into Ballito as an alternate. I just wanted to go to South Africa and hang out with Shane Sykes, and I ended up doing kinda well. And then, I’ve always loved the US Open, so I went there and did well. I was like “Oh shit…” and then as soon as I started thinking about competing, I started doing badly [laughs]. 

I think I’ll take it serious next year. I mean, as serious as I can be.

Never pulling punches. Photo by Thiago Diz/World Surf League

Do you think a relaxed mindset is the best for you then?

Yeah, I would say so. I came into South Africa straight off that Billabong boat trip, so I  was still boat-trip livin’. That was such an epic trip. I finally went on a sick boat trip and was just pumped on surfing. I didn’t really take the comp seriously, I was just hanging with Shane and cruising, and then I ended up doing well.

What changed after the US Open?

I don’t know, I guess people started talking about it and I was thinking “Yeah… I could maybe qualify.” And then I was caught between doing comps and doing surf trips. I wasn’t planning on doing the whole year on the CS, so there ended up being some trips I couldn’t go on because I was doing contests. I was conflicted, but I did well enough in the first two that it would have been dumb if I didn’t keep going. I think wanting to do both surf trips and comps is what screwed me up.

Next year I’m fully committing to it. I’ll still do some trips in between events, but I’m gonna do every event. I missed two events this year, and I still ended up 15th or 16th. I also felt like I should’ve made my heat in Haleiwa. That was bullshit, but I could’ve done better. They kinda screwed me over, but it was all good.

You went early to the Portugal event to prepare instead of coming to Vans Stab High Presented by Monster Energy right? That feels a little off-brand compared to what many fans would expect. What was your thought process there?

Yeah I think that put me off a bit. Because, usually, I would’ve just gone to Stab High and done it and then gone to the comp, but I was thinking about preparing. I dunno, I just got in my head.

Has Dane coached you at all?

Yeah, Dane gives me some pointers. Mostly he’ll just ask me how the waves are, I’ll tell him where it is and he’ll say “Oh that wave sucks, good luck.” [Laughs]. He’s done it all before, but he’s supportive, which is sick. He just tells me to have fun. Nothing crazy yet. He’s done well at Snapper so I’m gonna bug him for that one.

“A really good section.” Photo by Billabong.

Obviously Billabong just dropped Interlusion, and the reverse you did in it was history-altering. What were you thinking when you were bottom turning towards that section?

Probably just thinking “Holy shit I’m going really fast, let’s see if I can fuckin’ do this.” I just saw the section and said “Fuck it.” I was kinda hungover. It was a really good section, it was just sketchy. I hit it and got the grab, next thing I knew I was landing. I need to try stuff like that more often! [laughs]

Was that the first time you met Joel?

I met him once when I was a super-grom at J-Bay but I don’t think he remembered me. That was my first time hanging with him. That was pretty awesome, he’s such a gangster. He was frothing harder than all of us, he was losing it.

Do you surf out at Pipe a lot?

When I’m here I try to, but I mostly just sit at Off-The-Wall. I’m not good in that crowd. When I do surf it I just try to get some inside sketchy ones that no-one wants.

Do you think the VPM format will suit you, with airs being equally valued?

I don’t even know how the event works, honestly.

You’ll have three heats with the same 3 people, two of which will be Hawaiian. Airs, turns, and barrels are equally scored. There’s no priority, and your best three waves between all the heats will count towards your score. Top 4 on the leaderboard advance to the finals.

Oh damn. Please don’t put me in a heat with Billy, I beg of you [laughs].

If it’s big I’m trying to get the biggest tube I can get, and if there’s a big section I’m definitely hitting it. Obviously it would be sick if it’s pumping, especially since I’ll finally have a chance to surf it for an hour with only 4 guys out. But if it’s not like that it’s still fun, there’s still ramps when it’s small — especially at Backdoor.

I’d be stoked to have Noa Deane, Josh Moniz, or Shane Sykes in my heat. That would be fun. Harry would be funny to be out there with. It could get super eggy with people paddling around you for sure.

Do you prepare for heats?

No, I don’t really do any training or anything. I just show up, watch the waves, talk shit with my friends or something, and just go surf. I’ll do some stretching sometimes, I’m always super stiff.

So you’re on the CS again next year. Are you just gonna do trips until Snapper?

Yep! We’re making a video with Chapter 11, just gotta see who wants to go on a trip. No plans, just gonna depend on swells. Got a little budget, should be sweet.

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