Stab Magazine | Seb Williams Has Come A Long Way Since King Of The Groms

Seb Williams Has Come A Long Way Since King Of The Groms

A reintroduction to Mexico’s hottest young thang!

style // Jan 17, 2019
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

A little over two years ago this very publication reminded the surf world: Sebastian Williams  “The World’s Best Grom,” a year after his domination of the Quiksilver King of the Groms final in Brazil. 

It had been a good year for Seb. He’d nabbed 20k for his KotG win, as well as a lucrative Quik contract for the tip of his spear. Since then, Seb’s been plagued by a one-two punch of injuries, most recently a broken ankle, which he endured surfing on unwittingly as the youngest surfer in the first Red Bull Airborne event in France.

This year, with his contract up with Quik, we caught up for a quick chat with the Mexican-born, South African-honed freeagent, about what’s next, as he was dropping a retrospective clip comprising the “most memorable moments I have on film from the days I was 12 until today,” according to Seb. 

Stab: You live between Mexico and South Africa and spend time in the US. Tell us a bit of your back story, for those who are unacquainted.

Seb: OK, let me run it down for you… I was born in 2000, in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca. The Mexpipe…

Shortly after I was born, we moved to Laguna Beach, until 2006. Then we went to Texas for a year because we bought a huge catamaran that we wanted to sail and surf around the world on, but we got a good deal on it and ended up selling it, came back to Mexico, and got our humble abode right on the beach, and have been here ever since.

Seb and his mom, Oaxaca early-’00s. Photo courtesy The Williams Family.

In 2014, my dad and I had enough money for two one-way tickets to South Africa. I wanted to get comp experience in the local circuit they have there every year, and I got to hang with the kids who are now my close friends at each comp. We were there for 18 months, trying to make it out, getting by with the prize money from contest to contest. Then Craig Anderson and Dane Reynolds chose me as the wildcard for the 2015 King of The Groms final in Brazil, so I had to win it.

You’ve been on a tear since winning King Of The Groms, what’s been some highlights since then?

After that I went to Hawaii for four months, my first real season there, and to do some comps. I’ve also been back to South Africa a bunch, in between spending time at home in Mex and California. l went and did a lot of QS comps, and I won some Junior events the following two years. Most recently, l was selected as the under-18 wildcard for the Red Bull Airborne at the Quiky Pro in France. But I surfed without knowing I had a broken ankle, so I didn’t do too well [Laughs]. Also, I landed a really massive backflip, that nobody saw, earlier this year [laughs]. And I went on a bunch of really fun trips to spots around the world, including one really nuts trip to a secret archipelago which was pretty fun.

What’s kept a fire lit to hammer QS’s and make the cut? 

Guys like Griff, Seth, Matheus Herdy, South Africans like Adin Madencamp and Matt McGillivray, all these young guys busting onto the scene and holding their own is pretty epic! 

Who are some other guys you look up to?

Definitely and certainly my dad, Tim, because of, well, everything. He was judge at the Gunston 500 in Durban, at like 19 in 1979. And of course because everything he has done for me is something l couldn’t have even wished for. I always admired Andy Irons’ raw unmatched competitive attitude—how can you not? Then of course Kelly Slater, because he is the G.O.A.T, and just everything he has done and is doing for the sport and the environment.

I’d love to surf surf like Joel, Jordy and Dane, but my favourite surfer right now is Griffin no doubt—he’s like Parko with an absolutely off the charts air game.

Well, we were stoked to see you get into the Red Bull Airborne event, regardless of whether you were surfing on a buckled ankle. What were your thoughts on Stab High, and that air show format in wave pools? 

I like wave pools. My dad actually lifeguarded and surfed the one in South Africa, back in the 90’s. I went to a wave pool conference in Laguna Beach California when l was like 12 and met Shaun Tomson, Rabbit Bartholomew and Peter Townend. I’d like to go to one of the new ones this year—tell me what I gotta do to get in Stab High, it’s done! 

Are you thinking about the Olympics? Would you be surfing for Mexico then? 

I’m thinking about it. It would be amazing and such an honor to represent Mexico. 

“…even when it feels like you’re stuck in a traffic jam, its actually just a foundation of what is to be, you know, because injuries happen—whether you’re Leo Fioravanti, John John, Mick Fanning, or even Kelly himself. The reality is, you always have to bounce back stronger than before.” – Seb Williams. Photo courtesy Instagram.

Well, I know the ankle threw a red in what’s been a seemingly unbroken boulevard of green lights, what’s next for you?

Two consecutive injuries!

Red lights? Maybe. But let me tell you something, before I even hit the green lights, I just needed a car. But once things got going, it went okay. This road has given me so much to appreciate and be grateful for, I really can’t complain… even when it feels like you’re stuck in a traffic jam, it’s actually just a foundation of what is to be, you know, because injuries happen—whether you’re Leo Fioravanti, John John, Mick Fanning, or even Kelly. The reality is, you always have to bounce back stronger than before.


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