Watch: Gabriel Medina, Mick Fanning + Mason Ho In ‘The Kangs’ - Stab Mag

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Watch: Gabriel Medina, Mick Fanning + Mason Ho In ‘The Kangs’

You don’t often see six World Titles in the wombat capital – with notes from filmmaker Vaughan Blakey.

cinema // Aug 21, 2023
Words by Ethan Davis
Reading Time: 3 minutes

The longest running campaign in surfing is back. 

Rip Curl’s latest installment of The Search features two 3x World Champions, and a multiple time SSOTY and EAST test pilot exploring the rugged and raw coastline of ‘The Kangs’.

This was no luxury trip. The crew stayed in vermin-infested cabins in the middle of nowhere and survived off two-minute noodles and sausages in bread for dinner. Medina ate nothing but cheese sandwiches for most meals. Mason Ho woke up one morning to find his toothbrush had been totally devastated by rats.

For a week they spent up to eight hours a day on the road. “And you know they probably didn’t really score what they were hoping for,” says filmmaker Vaughan Blakey. “That’s what The Search is all about – that thing inside us that just wants to be faraway in the middle of nowhere just surfing and searching for it. Recently, it feels we’re seeing that return to the culture a bit more – just getting in the car and travelling to find uncrowded waves – I reckon that’s a good thing.”

“We sifted through hours and hours of footage from that trip,” Vaughan continues. “They filmed from the moment they got up till the moment they went to bed. The thing I was stoked on was all the fly on the wall stuff. There’s not much to do in the desert and it just means that you’re privy to these real windows of conversation – how and what the surfers actually talk about. The funny thing is it can actually be so boring – like I reckon they spent two hours at that little right going ‘should we or shouldn’t we?’ back and forth, over and over. Like if you weren’t a surfer you’d be going ‘what is wrong with these people?’ but to us it’s normal. Like it’s not funny – but then it goes past a certain point and it’s really funny.”

“I just love the continuing humanisation of Gabby too – everytime you see him out of a contest jersey or a big party in Brazil – you start to tap into what Mick and Mason have been saying for years, which is actually that ‘this guy is coolest cat to hang out with’. At the end of it I just thought the whole thing was super fun to watch and enjoy,” concludes Vaughno. “Like if I was a kid I would’ve stolen money from mum’s purse, run down to the shops, and watched the tape back 3000 times memorising every wave and every word.”

I’ll add: You don’t often see Gabriel freesurfing sharky, cold-water slabs sans jersey so this is pretty refreshing and unexpected. Convincing him to do a trip like this between events while contenting for a World Title is a bit of a testament to Mick’s gravitas too.

Managing to bank two 3x World Champs was big for Mason – who injured himself earlier in the year at The Eddie, then again at Pipe. He’s a lil more gooey than usual – “I just cry when I see Mick and Gab together. It just gets me all choked up finishing a trip like this,” he weeps. 


You can read Derek Hynd’s somewhat convoluted explanation of The Search’s origins here.


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