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Stab Surfer Of The Year: Mick Fanning, Italo Ferreira, Nathan Fletcher, Damien Fahrenfort, Mikey February

Hello world, and welcome to 2019!

Of course Australia celebrated this occasion yesterday, but now it is officially the New Year all across the world and what better way to celebrate than reading five new installments from the 2018 Stab Surfer of the Year.

On Day 2 we heard from Griffin Colapinto, Mitch Crews, Jay Davies, Noa Deane and Ethan Ewing, leaving us with the following leaderboard:

Males (Top 12):

1. Gabriel Medina (22 points)

=2. Noa Deane (13 points)

=2. Chippa Wilson (13 points)

=4. Griffin Colapinto (10 points)

=4. Dane Reynolds (10 points)

6. Julian Wilson (8 points)

=7. Grant Twiggy Baker (7 points)

=7. Filipe Toledo (7 points)

9. Nate Florence (6 points)

=10. Joan Duru (5 points)

=10. Billy Kemper (5 points)

=10. Shaun Manners (5 points)

=10. Joel Parkinson (5 points) 

Females (Top 5):

1. Stephanie Gilmore (6 points)

=2. Carissa Moore (1 point)

=2. Courtney Conlogue (1 point)

=2. Keala Kennelly (1 point)

=2. Bethany Hamilton (1 point)

Today we'll be joined by Damien Fahrenfort, Mick Fanning, Michael February, Italo Ferreira, and Nathan Fletcher. Everybody grab a pitcher of whatever settles your stomachs and let's dive into Surfer of the Year Day 3!

SSOTY Days1to5 Article11

Damien Fahrenfort

Age: 32

Bio: Once a pro surfer, then a Stab writer, now Jordy Smith’s official surfboard sticker-upper


  1. Italo Ferreira (5 points): “Italo is so consistent and he’s doing something incredible each and every surf. He’s also got more style, has more fun, and is less douchey than Gabs.”

  2. Julian Wilson (4 points): “Jules finally stepped up this year. He put the time in. He’s been getting some good freesurf parts. He almost won the World Title. It’s all starting to come together.”

  3. Noa Deane (3 points): “Noa’s had a great year. He was so committed in the Volcom Pipe Pro and Backdoor Shootout, just dropping late into bombs. Then he won Stab High, and his edit Headnoise was insane. I didn’t expect him to be able to take off so late. He proved he’s the real deal.”

  4. Billy Kemper (2 points):Billy won Jaws for his third time in four years. That's fucked up. He’s also on every big swell and is just a straight up maniac. He’s even been ripping in the small stuff.”

  5. Nate Florence (1 points):Nate seemed to make a goal to separate himself from John this year, and he did so by going on his own trips with his own crew. Then at each swell he got one of the best waves ridden. Nate really lets his surfing do the talking and he’s got a lot of respect for everyone else around him. I even saw him surfing some 6-8 foot waves in Fiji and he looked like John John the way he was hitting the lip, so he’s improved all around.”

Billy's heroic ride can be found at 0:20


Bethany Hamilton (1 point): “I saw Bethany at Surf Ranch and she was absolutely tearing. I want to give this to Steph, but she is underachieving every time she surfs compared to where her talent is. She should have 11 world titles by now.”

Noteworthy other:

Griffin Colapinto: “All those different single manoeuvres – cutback to rotation at lowers, the free-fall air reverse – I don’t think his results do his surfing justice. Griff is the first rookie in a long time who I’ve thought could win a world title. He’s got something unique – like that Jordy or Dane X-factor.”

SSOTY Days1to5 Article12

Mick Fanning

Age: 37

Bio: 3x World Champion, sold 11 million pairs of bottle-opener sandals, occasionally Eugene


Ryan Callinan (5 points): “To see Ryan finally come into his own was amazing. Everyone knew how talented he was and now he’s believing in it. He proved that by taking down almost everyone in France [Ryan got 2nd to Julian Wilson in the 2018 Quik Pro France], and then again with his performance at Pipeline [Ryan won the Pipe Masters Trials and advanced to Round 4]. I can't wait to watch him next year.”

Julian Wilson (4 points): “To win at Kirra with that busted shoulder was a true testament of grit! Julian's all heart. I would have loved to have seen him win the Title at Pipe, but I think he’ll be even more ready in 2019.” [Julian won the first event of the 2018 season at pumping Kirra just a couple months after a horrific shoulder injury. It's believed he'll never regain full use of his rotator cuff].

Filipe Toledo (3 points): “The surfing that Filipe did in Brazil and J-bay this year was next level. When he’s on he’s untouchable. I don’t think anybody comes close to his speed and agility.”

Gabriel Medina (2 points): “This kid is amazing. When he decides to turn it on he’s like a bull in a china shop. Thrives under pressure and not afraid to take risks. Did you see what he did at Pipe this year? That was legendary.” [Medina chased down the World Title on the back half of the season, where he recorded two third place finishes and three wins (including a historic victory at the Pipe Masters) across the last five events].

Mason Ho (1 point): “Watching this bloke just makes you want to go and have the funnest surf of your life. You can feel how much fun he’s having just by watching him. After hanging with him on The Search trips, there’s no way he’s not making my list.”

Mick and Made search for ivory tunnels.


Caroline Marks (1 point): “Caroline had an incredible rookie year. Just the way she went about her business with zero fuss was really impressive. You could see she really enjoyed just surfing and competing. She’ll be one to watch for sure.” [Caroline, who was the youngest-ever CT qualifier at 15, placed 7th in her rookie year and made many new fans in the process.]

Noteworthy other:

Italo Ferreira: “He’s just so fun to watch. And that final we shared at Bells was really special for both of us.” [Mick shared his last heat as a full-time CT competitor with Italo in the 2018 Bells final. Italo won.]

SSOTY Days1to5 Article13

Mikey February

Age: 25

Bio: First black African CT surfer, handsomer than hell, paints poems with his surfboard


  1. Mikey Wright (5 points): “Mikey didn’t put out anything crazy this year [film-wise], but it’s just the fact he tries the gnarliest stuff on the gnarliest sections. He’s crazy in that sense. I’ll be surfing with him and he’ll be hitting sections that I wouldn’t even be thinking about hitting. It’s almost embarrassing.” [See below.]

  2. Noa Deane (4 points): “That edit he put out – Headnoise, I think it was – and watching him at Pipe at the start of the year was pretty rad. I knew Noa was good but I didn’t know he had those extra gears in heavy surf.”

  3. Chippa Wilson (3 points): “Just because of that part he put out. I don’t even understand half of what Chippa does on a surfboard but it’s incredible.”

  4. Dane Reynolds (2 points): “The Electric Acid Surfboard Test with Stab was sick. It was so good seeing him on those different boards. Every year Dane is someone I spend a lot of time watching, and even though he didn’t put a lot out in 2018 he was still a standout performer.”

  5. Andy Nieblas (1 point): “I got to watch a lot more of him, and what he does on a log is so sick. You should have seen what he did in the Duct Tape Invitational in Zarautz…

Mikey went off like a bottle rocket in France. Skip to 6:20 for proof.

Female: Steph Gilmore (1 point): “I nearly said Steph for the guys.”

Noteworthy other:

Italo Ferreira: “Watching him is like getting electric shock therapy – in a good way.”

SSOTY Days1to5 Article15

Italo Ferreira

Age: 24

Bio: Won 3 CT events this year, undisputed champion of OTW lefts, caught more waves than any two other surfers combined in 2018


  1. Filipe Toledo (5 points): “Filipe is so wild. He’s a power surfer and I love his manoeuvres and his approach to competition. J-Bay is my favourite place to watch Filipe surf. His turns there are the best on Tour.” [Filipe has won the last two J-Bay CT events, averaging around 17 points per heat.]

  2. Julian Wilson (4 points): “Julian’s similar to Filipe but with more style. He’s so good in the barrel, especially at Teahupoo and Pipe. When he won the first event with that shoulder injury – that was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen.” [Julian got a 9.93 in the final.]

  3. Gabriel Medina (3 points): “Fuck, Gabriel did a lot this year. He was sniffing around the top-five to top-10, then he won those two events [Lemoore and France] and took the lead, then he brought it home at Pipe. It was a big challenge for him, but he pulled it off. That’s why I think Gabriel is one of the best.”

  4. Lucas “Chumbo” Chianca (2 points): “Chumbo is one of the craziest guys I’ve ever met. I don’t even know if he thinks when he’s surfing. I saw him at Nazare and Jaws and the kid is so good. His talent is another level.” [By most accounts, Chumbo is the torch-bearer of progression in big wave surfing. His recent performances prove that point.]

  5. Mick Fanning (1 point): “He’s retired now but I love Mick’s surfing – I love his style, and I love his personality. I surfed with Mick in the final at Bells and watching him ripping was one of the best moments of my life. He’s so hungry every single heat and it makes we want to be the same.”

A heat that will always be remembered between two unlikely pals.


Caroline Marks (5 points): “Because she surfs like me [laughs]! She was so strong and was always hungry this year. I love her.” [There are a few striking similarities to Caroline's and Italo's surfing.

Noteworthy other:

Albee Layer and Matt Meola:Their approach and manoeuvres are crazy. I love this type of surfing and try to mix it into my own.”

Nathan Fletcher

Age: 44

Bio: Skate and surf renegade, helmet-wearing heathen, not fucking old

Quote:I care about the gnarliest guys. That’s the only thing I see.”


  1. Chippa Wilson (5 points): “His movie part is fucked up. I think he’s the gnarliest in the world at technical stuff.”

  2. Italo Ferreira (4 points): “I love his style and how he surfs. He just does those huge, fuck-off airs.

  3. Seth Moniz (3 points): “This kid had a crazy highlight reel in 2018 [including the Waco flip, a 10-point full rotation in Japan, and a Praise Satan air rev at the US Open] and the way he surfed Pipe was really sick. Nuts barrels and airs.”

  4. Nathan Florence (2 points): “This guy goes richter everywhere in the world. He’s had an amazing year." [In 2018 Nate hit: Indonesia, Mexico, Tahiti, Africa, Maverick's, Jaws, Fiji, etc. and scored them all.]

  5. Reef Hazelwood (1 points): “I don’t even know the guy but I’ve seen the two airs he did at Rocky Point. I saw him rip at Sunset, too. He’s gnarly.” [Reef sent Instagram into a tailspin this November when he landed a huge, drifting punt at Rockies, more or less putting the Aussie on the proverbial map.]

Welcome to the big stage, Mr. Heazlewood.


Keala Kennelly (1 point): “Keala at Jaws? That was fucking gonzo.” [Keala won the women's Jaws event by continually getting pummeled and popping back up for more. It was remarkable.]

Noteworthy other:

Alex Knost:The shit he did at Slater’s Ranch was next level. How he gets in those positions is beyond me.” [Alex is a loose and limber man.]

Chippa Wilson Stab High

Chippa is climbing.

Stab Surfer of the Year running total:

Males (Top 12):

1. Gabriel Medina (27 points)

2. Chippa Wilson (21 points)

=3. Julian Wilson (20 points) 

=3. Noa Deane (20 points)

5. Filipe Toledo (15 points)

=6. Dane Reynolds (12 points)

=6. Italo Ferreira (12 points)

8. Griffin Colapinto (10 points)

=9. Seth Moniz (9 points)

=9. Nate Florence (9 points)

=10. Grant Twiggy Baker (7 points)

=10. Billy Kemper (7 points)

Females (Top 6):

1. Steph Gilmore (7 points)

=2 Caroline Marks (2 points)

=2. Bethany Hamilton (2 points)

=2. Keala Kennelly (2 points)

=5. Carissa Moore (1 point)

=5. Courtney Conlogue (1 point)

Stay tuned for tomorrow, when we'll hear from:

Jeremy Flores

John Florence

Nathan Florence

Steph Gilmore

Wade Goodall


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