Interview: Griffin Colapinto Outperformed The Hype At His First CT Event
“I definitely had a lot of expectations on my shoulders, so I didn’t want to go over there and blow it.” – Griffin Colapinto
We lathered the Griffin-hype on pretty thick, pre-Snapper. If your memory is fuzzy, allow me to refresh: We rated the 19-year-old as our number one rookie prospect in 2018, called him maybe better than Kolohe, and even predicted a Round 1 victory over John en route to a semi-final finish at the 2018 season opener.
As it turns out, we didn’t give Colapinto enough credit.
After picking apart The Champ in Round 1, winning a barrel/chess match over Parko in Round 3, and scorching Michel with the event’s only 10 in the Quarters, Griffin finally collapsed against eventual contest winner, Julian Wilson, in a hard-fought semi at pumping Kirra. How’s that for a rookie debut? (Yes, we see you too, Hermes!)
Yesterday we caught up with Griffin to hear how he’s feeling after the stellar opening event. Feel free to eavesdrop on our chat below.
Stab: A lot of people, us included, are guilty of putting an unreasonable amount of hype on your rookie debut. Did you feel that extra pressure to perform, on account of not wanting to let people down?
Griffin Colapinto: I definitely had a lot of expectations on my shoulders — with all the videos that were posted and a lot of people, like Stab, talking about how they expected me to do well at Snapper — so I didn’t want to go out there and blow it. Luckily I was able to block it out and just enjoy surfing perfect waves.
Your first heat was against the current world champion, John Florence, and you went out there and snagged the best wave. How did that feel?
It felt pretty natural, because when I’m practicing I’m always thinking about getting on the best wave. So when I was on that thing I wasn’t too surprised, because that was my goal.
You said that you prepared for your Round 3 heat by watching videos of your competitor, Joel Parkinson. I know Joel is a hero to you, so what was it like surfing against him?
That was the one heat that I was tripping on, because I had never really surfed against someone who is way older than me, has won a world title, and that I’ve always looked up to. It’s hard for me to have confidence against someone who I think surfs better than me, but I somehow beat him.
And that was one of those nerve-racking heats (even as spectator), where you had the lead for about 20 minutes and Joel was catching all kinds of waves trying to beat you. What did that feel like?
Yeah, I definitely made a few priority mistakes that I was pretty bummed about, but most of the waves he caught didn’t really pan out, so I was lucky. Then I had a priority at the end, so I was just waiting to hold him off if a good one came.
Then… Kirra. You’d never surfed it before the morning of the event, but you got a crazy one before the comp started. What was that like?
It was weird, because I wasn’t really expecting to get barreled over here — I’m not super tuned-in to the forecasting in Oz, so I’d just been waking up and checking the surf every morning. When we saw that they might run it Kirra, we headed down there to surf, and that barrel was my first and only wave. It pretty much just let me roll into that tube, and once I came out I headed straight to the beach. I knew the waves were going to be pumping all day and I didn’t want to waste my energy.
So your first heat that day was against Michel, and you got a 10. Was that one of the best waves of your life?
Oh yeah, I’ve never gotten a triple barrel like that before [laughs].
You looked surprised that it kept barreling for you…
Yeah, totally. I came out of the first barrel and I was going to do a turn, but then I saw this little low-road and I was like “Oh! I should definitely try to get into this thing.” So I started pumping for that section, set my line, went over the foamball, and came flying out. I was so psyched, claimed it, thought the wave was over, but then I turned around and saw there was another section, so I just got into my barrel stance and went again.
Did you think it was a 10 when you were kicking out?
Yeah [laughs], I thought it was going to be a 10 — just because it was three defined barrels. It wasn’t one of those where a guy makes a section then you can kind of see him and then he goes back in. It was like: barrel, fully come out, barrel, fully come out, barrel, and fully come out.
Then you lost in the semi, but there were a few waves that if you would’ve come out, you would’ve made the heat. Were you little frustrated that you didn’t ride out of those waves?
That one stung for sure. It’s crazy to come out of a heat like that and be bummed, because looking back at all the waves I got, it was definitely one of the best days of my life — but it still sucks to lose, especially when you were so close on a couple occasions.
Do you feel validated after this contest? That all of the hype was justified?
Yeah… a little bit for sure. Especially because I got to show all the parts of my surfing. I got to get barreled behind the rock and then do some turns down the point at Snapper, and then I got some real barrels at Kirra.
With the success you’ve had this early on, do your goals change for the remainder of the season? I know before this event you wanted to make the top-10, but do you start thinking about top-5, or maybe even a World Title run right after this event?
[Laughs], I know my coach is probably thinking that. He’s trying to get me ready for a world title situation, but I don’t think I’m ready for that. So I’m just going to keep having fun for now.
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