Stab Magazine | Does The World’s Most Famous Surfer Earn The Right To Any Wave?

Live Now: How Surfers Get Paid — The Queens of Ascension


Does The World’s Most Famous Surfer Earn The Right To Any Wave?

The continuous tales of Gabriel Medina’s pre-contest warm ups. 

style // Sep 13, 2017
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

No one likes to get burnt. But, occasionally everybody lights a match.

In the grand scheme of things, fighting over a wave is silly. But, people do. They “take it to the beach,” because surfing’s not free love and “doobie suckers” anymore; it’s a testosterone fueled snake pit. It’s rude words, rare physical altercations, a board flick, a dramatic splash, and claustrophobia in the lineup around you.

Yesterday, we got sent a clip of Gabriel Medina burning a guy on a yellow board in San Clemente. The guy falls, paddles back out and backhands water in Gabs’ face. Gabs brushes it off with the dignity of man unashamed and gazes into the horizon. When I saw it, I could barely contain my excitement. “Let’s whore this one out!” I thought. Nothing makes thumbs dance over six-inch screens like Gabby—or any Brazilian, really— burning someone. Surfers on social media are beautiful, reactionary, and deranged.

You can watch the incident above. If you’re like me, you’ll watch it at least ten times, and still laugh.

While I’d written Lowers off for the summer—after making the familiar mistake of surfing it in the dead summer heat, during the year’s first significant south swell, on a Saturday—for the better half of the month, I’ve been hearing stories of Gabriel, The Serpent. The stories have been passionate because, everyone short of Adam and Eve, takes pleasure in writing off a snake. Remember when Dane got dropped in on at Sandspit, and the internet took to poor Chucky Rigano like, and I quote, he “spit on Dane’s baby”? But, Dane, like you, like me, like everyone who has ever spent quality time in the ocean has at some point in his life looked at someone taking off deeper than him square in the eyes, and thought, Not. A. Fucking. Chance.

Which raises the question: Does a World Champion or World Tour surfer earned the right to any wave they want? It’s Gabriel’s job as a professional surfer to get waves—to practice, to perfect; to be a champion! His paycheck’s are riding on it, and right now he’s having a whatever season, rallying after his best finish of the year (second place at Chopes) and is fired up. Yes, he is a notorious snake no matter his World Tour rank, but does being the World’s Most Famous Surfer (if you’re going by Instagram following) give him the right to any wave he wants?

Surfing’s unlike any other, er… sport… in the world. Michael Jordan never had to battle to shoot hoops. Roger Federer doesn’t have to wait in a queue for a court. Tiger Woods’ adultery may have been rampant, but that never kept him from walking onto any green he pleased.

Surfing, however, is done in a public place. The week before a comp is miserable; the week of the comp is even worse and if you’re surfing the comp site, shouldn’t you expect to be on the tail end of the world’s best?

So, does this right apply to surfing? Is how a professional surfer acts in foreign lineups before a competition a testament to their character? Or, is it their job to be prepped for the battle that lies ahead, get as many possible waves under their belt at whichever locale, and go for the kill?


Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

Can Medina Overcome His CT Drought In Tahiti?

Tahurai Henry offers his picks for the SHISEIDO Tahiti Pro

May 21, 2024

The 35 Best Song Pairings In Surf Films, As Ranked By Dane Reynolds, Taylor Steele & You

From Noa Deane and Courtney Love, to Andy Irons and Coldplay, to Creed McTaggart and…

May 20, 2024

Is This The Most Cost Efficient Way To Noticeably Improve Your Surfing In A Single Month?

All you can eat for $1500 AUD at URBNSURF Melbourne.

May 20, 2024

Watch And Learn: How To Score A Solo Sesh At 8-Foot Teahupo’o With Leonardo Fioravanti

Skip lunch and gorge.

May 19, 2024

Full Frame: The Story Behind The Photo You’ve Seen 1,000 Times

A viral ménage à trois in Bali.

May 18, 2024

Meet The Man Who Runs Kelly Slater’s Burgeoning Surf Empire

The Stab Interview with Dylan Slater. 

May 18, 2024

How Surfers Get Paid: Season 2, Episode 4

80+ interviews later, it's time to "send out the chicks".

May 17, 2024

How To Get To Stab High Japan

BYO ligaments. 

May 16, 2024

CT Earlybirds, Tahitian Warlords, And Aspirational Teenagers Divide Spoils From “11 out of 10” Teahupo’o Blob

Eimeo Czermak, Balaram Stack, Liam O'Brien, Cannon Carr, and Ryan Miller divulge tales from the…

May 16, 2024

The Lefts Off The Rights

Detailing the goofy-footed proclivity to go against the grain.

May 15, 2024

Watch: ‘Shotgun’ featuring Josie Prendergast & Taj Richmond

The allure of contradiction, displayed in the virtue of Northern Rivers sand.

May 15, 2024

How Accurate Were Our Pre-Cut Predictions?

Reflecting on the rookie-centric forecasts offered by CJ Hobgood, Stace Galbraith, Brett Simpson, and Mikey…

May 14, 2024

Local Wildcard Jordy Lawler Dusts 79 Transplants, Issy Nichols Denies Prodigy Erin Brooks Another Plush Toy

The Stab High winner is one semi-final away from tour qualification after only two events.

May 14, 2024

Which 2024 Stab High Competitor Has Given Us The Best Surf Part?  

Noa Deane, Chippa Wilson, Julian Wilson, Ian Crane and more duel for the most impactful…

May 13, 2024

There Are Still Perfect, Empty Waves Left In The World

Soli Bailey, Timo Simmers + Layne Stratton on the sand-bottomed unicorn seen in ‘Maps to…

May 13, 2024

What Happened To Bali?

And is an ethical future for surf development possible in Indonesia?

May 12, 2024

Premium Peek: Mason Ho + Sheldon Paishon Vs A Scottish Widow Maker

Less like a wave, more like a German Panzer tank (180 tons, FYI).

May 12, 2024

Tactical Burn, Shove + Leash Pull Ends In Tears, Disqualification + Fines At ISA World Juniors 

The young Portuguese surfer has since apologized for her 'grevious unsportsmanlike conduct'. 

May 11, 2024