Would you believe this baby-faced teen is one of the top-34 surfers in the world? Photo: WSL
Griffin Colapinto Is Officially On The 2018 CT
California’s new “It” kid takes a step toward manhood.
Increasingly popular opinion: Griffin Colapinto is a better surfer than Kolohe Andino. What’s the point of comparing those two, you ask? For the past couple years, Kolohe has been the highest rated mainland U.S. surfer on the CT, making him the current benchmark for American greatness. That Kolohe and Griffin grew up in the same town, surfed the same waves, and each qualified as teenagers is just a coincidental bonus.
Thanks to a second place finish at the Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa, Griffin secured a spot on the 2018 Championship Tour, meaning we’ll finally be able to answer the question: who is San Clemente’s best modern-day surfer? ...Behind Toledo and Jordy, of course.
If I were to be brutally honest, I'd say Griffin is more naturally talented than Kolohe. Like he could maybe, possibly, potentially be a legitimate world title contender in five years’ time. Reckless creativity combined with technical brilliance is a winner’s combination, and Griff’s got it all.
We just got off the phone with Griff, who is understandably elated with his achievement.
Stab: Griff, congrats man!
Griffin Colapinto: Thanks!
So, how was the night after the event? Pretty wild?
Yeah it was cool. All the boys at the Billabong house threw a party for me.
How'd you feel the next morning?
Not too bad actually. I didn't barf, so it was pretty mellow [laughs].
You recently turned 19. Did you think your qualification would happen this quickly?
Kinda, yeah. When I was 16 I made a 3-year plan -- I wanted to be in the 6,000 events by the time I was 17, in the 10,000 events by 18, and on Tour by 19. So it's pretty cool to achieve that goal.
Speaking of, I heard on the webcast that one of your goals for this year was to win a QS event. Despite your incredible season, you were never able to get a victory. Was getting second at Sunset a little bitter-sweet in that sense?
Yes and no. I definitely wanted to win an event, even if it was just a 1,000, but to be honest I'd rather get second at Sunset than win a 1,000 or even a 3,000. It's way sicker to get a result in Hawaii, and qualifying is the icing on the cake.
For a couple years now, you’ve been hailed as California’s next hope for a CT surfer and title contender. Do you find it difficult to perform under such heavy expectations?
Not really, I've kinda just been thriving on it. When I'm at home surfing at Lowers, a bunch of people will come ask me about it or just wish me luck, so I've been taking tons of confidence from that. It seems like everybody wants to see my do well.
With this result, you've jumped to second on the QS rankings. Have you been thinking about your seed for next year?
Well I wasn't thinking about it at all before Haleiwa, but now that I'm qualified I'm definitely taking it more seriously. I'm definitely not gonna lay down at Sunset just because I qualified.
Especially because you're in the Triple Crown race.
Yeah, and Filipe said he wasn't going to surf Sunset, which technically puts me in the lead for the Triple Crown right now.
Whoa, that's heavy. So if you're still leading after Sunset, would that give you a slot in the Pipe Trials? Or how does that all work?
I'm actually already in the Pipe Trials through Billabong, but hopefully if I'm still leading the Triple Crown after Sunset, the WSL will give me a slot into the main event.
Beyond Hawaii, are there any parts of your surfing you feel like you should improve before surfing against the world's best next March?
I think I could get my backside quite a bit better, and it's always good to work on the frontside carve because judges are seeing that so often. Then I've got air reverses pretty dialed, but I can't do gnarly alleyoops like John John, so I'd like to improve on those.
What about heavy waves like Pipe and Chopes? Do you feel pretty comfortable out there?
I feel really comfortable in waves like that. Every winter I stay at the Billabong house and surf Pipe like every day. My parents and everyone always try to get me to surf other spots, but I just surf there because you can get barreled [laughs].
How do you feel that your home competition of Lowers has been stripped from the CT calendar, along with Cloudbreak? How do Lemoore and Keramas compare to those two waves, in your mind?
I'm actually really bummed the WSL cut Lowers from the schedule. I've always dreamed of surfing in that event, so hopefully they bring it back in a couple years. It sucks we're losing Cloudbreak too, but Keramas is also a really sick wave, so I'm psyched for that event. I haven't gotten to surf the wave pool yet, so I don't know much about it. Hopefully I get some good practice there before the event.
I know this is all very fresh but, off the top of your head, what would constitute a successful rookie year?
Mmmmm, I think top 10 would be successful.
Are you gonna bring Snake on tour with you?
I don't know actually, I was just thinking about that. We'll have to work some of that stuff out over the next couple months.
Do you feel ready to compete against the alpha dogs of our sport?
I've already surfed against a lot of CT guys, so I feel pretty comfortable against them. Although, most of those heats were 4-man, so going head-to-head with them might be a little different.
Who's someone you'd love to go head-to-head against?
I'd love to go head-to-head against Kolohe. We're really good friends, but when we surf together it gets super competitive.
Like fun competitive or serious competitive?
I don't know, Kolohe is a really competitive guy [laughs]. I think he takes it pretty seriously, and so do I.
What wave are you most looking forward to surfing on the CT?
Hmmmm... J-bay, if Snapper got really good it'd be sick to surf there, and maybe even Chopes if it was pumping.
Do you believe you can be a world champion?
Yes, I do.