Stab Magazine | Stab Surfer Of The Year: Gabriel Medina, Ryan Miller, Jamie O'Brien, Pat O'Connell, Eithan Osborne

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Stab Surfer Of The Year: Gabriel Medina, Ryan Miller, Jamie O’Brien, Pat O’Connell, Eithan Osborne

Gabe’s lead slims to almost nothing. But who are his nearest suitors?

style // Jan 6, 2019
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 9 minutes

We’re now on Day 7 of the Stab Surfer of the Year, and would you believe that Stab High’s winner and second place finisher, Noa Deane and Chippa Wilson, are within a dice throw of the 2018 WSL World Champion?

In fact only two of the top five surfers from yesterday’s leaderboard compete on the CT, being Filipe Toledo and Gabriel Medina. Meanwhile air-and-barrel based freesurfers make up the rest of the crew, which goes to show you the importance of their non-jerseyed acts in the world of professional surfing. 

Here’s the official rundown from Day 6:

Males (Top 12):

1. Gabriel Medina (43 points)

2. Noa Deane (38 points)

3. Chippa Wilson (36 points)

4. Filipe Toledo (35 points)

5. Nate Florence (31 points)

6. Italo Ferreira (30 points)

7. Julian Wilson (29 points)

8. Griffin Colapinto (23 points)

9. Seth Moniz (22 points)

10. Dane Reynolds (18 points)

11. Lucas ‘Chumbo’ Chianca (15 points)

12. Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker (13 points)

Females (Top 6):

1. Stephanie Gilmore (11 points)

=3. Bethany Hamilton (4 points)

=3. Keala Kennelly (4 points)

=5. Carissa Moore (3 points)

=5. Caroline Marks (3 points)

6. Lakey Peterson (2 points)

On Day 7 we’ll hear from a truly ragtag grouping, including 2x and current World Champion Gabriel Medina, the world’s most prolific professional surf photographer Ryan Miller, the vlog-heavy but still-very-taleted-at-surfing Jamie O’Brien, ex-CTer/current industry stalwart Pat O’Connell, and the winner of Stab High’ big air award Eithan Osbourne. 

Let’s now scroll to read about their 2018 surfing inspirations. 

SSOTY Days6 10 Article6

Gabriel Medina

Age: 25

Bio: 2x and current World Champion, prefers a 9:1 female/male ratio, The Terminator

Quote: “I don’t really watch much.”


  1. Filipe Toledo (5 points): “He’s been growing, and he’s been learning a lot about how to compete and deal with things in a heat. Then at J-Bay he was by far the best.” [Toledo beat Medina in the quarters this year and has won J-Bay the last two years.]

  2. Ryan Callinan (4 points): “His surfing in France was… wow, so amazing. He’s such a good surfer.” [Ryan was gifted a wildcard into the 2018 Quik Pro France, in which he provided multiple excellent scores and advanced all the way to the final.]

  3. Julian Wilson (3 points): “Julian is really consistent. He’s a really good competitor. He impressed me so much on the Gold Coast, especially with his shoulder injury. He also won France and got a 10, but I maybe felt like Ryan should have won.

  4. Italo Ferreira (2 points): “Italo had three wins this year, but in the other contests he lost in Round 2 or 3. So he was a little inconsistent, but he had some really amazing moments. He was unstoppable at certain points.” [See below.]

  5. Lucas ‘Chumbo’ Chianca (1 point): “He’s doing really good. I’m really impressed by what he’s been doing in big waves. I think he’s the most talented guy.”


Steph Gilmore (1 point): “For me she’s just the best. I love watching Steph surf.”

SSOTY Days6 10 Article7

Ryan Miller

Age: 40

Bio: Charismatic photographer, speedo-wearer, wine-lover, invoice master


  1. John John Florence (5 points): “This guy is still making CT perennials drool with just a few free surf sessions in WA and Bali. Then he takes a page from Kelly’s book and drops the best video of the year right on the heels of the Surf Ranch event.” [Slater famously revealed his Lemoore creation one day after Adriano de Souza, a noted rival of Slater, won his first World Title. Miller is implying that John’s timing for dropping his video Space was not a mere coincidence.]
  2. Julian Wilson (4 points): “Julian smashes his shoulder, doesn’t surf for months, then comes out and wins the first event of the year. Throw away those yoga balls. The new contest routine is just don’t surf.”
  3. Filipe Toledo (3 points): “Some guys need a certain wave to do their thing. Filipe just needs a wave. The guy is fireworks in every single kind of condition.”
  4. Gabriel Medina (2 points): “I just love how this fucker is ice cold. Nothing gets to him. Medina’s gotta be the most exciting guy when he’s in his competitive mindset.
  5. Nate Florence (1 point): “This guy gives me a hard-on in every facet –training, humor, mayonnaise, big waves and barrels. If he didn’t suck so bad at performance surfing [see below] I would put him at the top of the list.”


Johanne Defay (1 point): “This girl won a comp, says more cuss words than Rihanna and can go glass for glass with me in a red wine drinking contest.” 

SSOTY Days6 10 Article8

Jamie O’Brien

Age: 35

Bio: Vloglyfe, John John’s lifelong nemesis, still a very good surfer 


  1. Italo Ferreira (5 points): “Italo’s taken it to Medina’s level in 2018. What’s the Medina Level? Guys who can just turn it on and be unbeatable. There’s only a select few people in the world, and they can do it in any conditions. If Pipeline’s two-foot they’re doing 10-foot full rotations. If it’s 10-foot they’re getting blown out of barrels, then doing full rotations. It’s just like fuck.”
  2. Billy Kemper (4 points): “How do you win Jaws three times? You think John John’s a badass for winning the Volcom Pipe Pro three times, but Billy took that to a whole other level. I don’t care how good you are or lucky you are, there’s something there that’s magical. Who cranks it off the bottom on a 30 footer and just wants to backdoor the fucking thing? Scariest. Thing. On. Planet. Earth.”
  3. Nathan Florence (3 points): “I’ve been really impressed by what Nate’s doing. The last few years he’s fully come into his own. Winning Wave of the Winter. Winning Barrel of the Year. Every big swell these guys are hopping on a plane and trying to get the biggest barrel of their life. I mean how do you get on a plane 15 times a year thinking, ‘There’s a good chance I might die,’ and then go and get the wave of your life, or almost die, and keep going back for more and more? That’s what’s up.”
  4. John Florence (2 points): I like what John did this year – he just sort of took a year off, blew off the Pipe Masters, canned the whole thing. John John’s been surfing the last couple months, low key, and he could compete at a high level, but this is the smartest thing he’s ever done. He’s been full throttle since he was a grom. Non-stop. This year for him was the first year that he could hang at home with his friends, get the balance, relax, enjoy what he’s earned, clear his mind and go into next year 120%. Obviously everyone respects John’s surfing, but to be at his level and take some time for himself and enjoy it, that’s the best accomplishment. I think he’s going to come back so fierce and so much stronger.
  5. Eli Hanneman (1 point): I’ve always been impressed by him, and he just keeps getting better and better, but he’s just gotten so lethal this year. How old is he, 14 [Eli is 15.]? He’s got a style like Bruce Irons at Backdoor, and he’s so casual and scrawny and tiny, you’re like, ‘How does this kid have this much form?’ I feel like he’ll be qualified way sooner than people think. I’d worry if that little kid was in my heat, just, ‘Fuck, there’s no way I can let him beat me.’”

Yeah, this kid might have a future in surfing.


Carissa Moore (1 point): “Carissa’s performance at Honolua Bay [Carissa won the Maui Beachwaver Pro with a 10 in the final] – you don’t see power surfing like that from the girls very often. She’s just so well-rounded. She would light guys up.”

Noteworthy other:

Kai Lenny: “The guy’s out of control, from A to Z. He’s the modern day Laird.”

SSOTY Days6 10 Article9

Pat O’Connell

Age: 48

Bio: Endless Summer II star, ex-CTer, surf industry power-broker

Quote: “My focus is on innovation and pushing the sport forward.”


  1. Kai Lenny (5 points): “Kai’s performance at Jaws in and around the event was some serious shit. Not to mention his quiver is ready for any condition at any time. The hardcore shortboard dude mightn’t agree but Kai is a human Swiss Army Knife.”  
  2. Italo Ferreira (4 points): “This year Italo had three of the most inspired performances of the tour [Bells, Keramas, and Portugal] and arguably one of the best ever at Bells. Not to mention his performances early season on the NS.
  3. Griffin Colapinto (3 points): “Griffin’s surfing is very easy on the eyes. He’s a grom and made some mistakes in heats but he is getting freakishly good and has no real weak spots.”
  4. Albee Layer (2 points): “Maui is the hot spot in the world of surfing. The most innovative surfing is happening over there. Albee is doing flips into oblivion and then packing 60-foot closeouts on a foot shorter board than everyone else’s. He’s a freak.”
  5. Gabriel Medina (1 point): “Gabriel won another World Title this year and while others have had more inspired performances, he is so freaking good that he deserves to be mentioned. He’s a human wave catching machine.”

What Gab did to Conner in this quarterfinal is downright criminal.


Carissa Moore (1 point): “Carissa’s surfing in Tahiti this early season and then the way she finished the year at Honolua set her apart from her peers. Obviously Steph won her 7th World Title and its hard to vote against her, but Carissa, when on, is the best of the best in my opinion.”

SSOTY eithan

Eithan Osborne

Age: 18

Bio: Stab High Big Air winner, 2nd at World Juniors. 


Chippa Wilson (5 points): “His last movie part [Video No. 4] was absolutely ridiculous. His airs at the wave pool [Chip got second at Stab High with some truly skillful surfing]. Seeing him in France [Eithan and Chippa were both in the Redbull Airborne event in Hossegor]. Chippa does his airs different – I don’t know how his knees don’t break – and his whole group is just so influential on my generation.”

Dane Reynolds (4 points): “Dane’s still my favorite, though, who am I kidding? The Acid Test was ridiculous. Just seeing Dane riding asyms and all those weird boards, it was just the first film like it, and he was just ripping on everything. It was a reminder of just how insane Dane is. This year, that was some of the best surfing, for sure.”

Noa Deane (3 points): “ For Headnoise, and because he won Stab High. I love Noa’s style of airs, probably more than anyone else – the North Point stuff, his crazy straight airs and just charging in Hawaii. His movie was just amped the whole time. It kept going. It had that Bruce Movie vibe.”

Griffin Colapinto (2 points): “I mean, for his first year on tour, Griffin crushed it. Those Snapper barrels were fucked [Griffin got a triple-barrel 10 in first CT event]. Before every comp there was a crazy freesurf clip. He was surfing better than anyone.”

Nate Florence (1 point): “A lot of people see Nate as John’s brother, but the barrels he got this year… they were as good or better than John. He definitely showed he’s as good as John in the barrel.”


Caroline Marks (1 point): Caroline killed it at the wavepool, and I saw another clip of her doing a blow tail and an air [see above]. She’s so gnarly… and what is she like, fifteen? It’s crazy, she’s so strong. After going to the World Juniors and seeing all these girls her same age, she’s just so far beyond, it’s like how is that even possible? Like, what did your parents feed you?”

Noteworthy other:

Shaun Manners:Blastoid was really good. It was so crazy. I went to J-Bay with him a few years ago, when we were younger—I was like 14 or 15— and he was alright, and then I didn’t see much from him, and then that movie. It was so gnarly. That barrel at Gnaraloo, it’s gotta be a Barrel of the Year nominee or something.”



Italo Ferreira joins the party!

Stab Surfer of the Year running total:

Males (Top 12):

1. Gabriel Medina (46 points)

2. Filipe Toledo (43 points)

=3. Chippa Wilson (41 points)

=3. Italo Ferreira (41 points)

=3. Noa Deane (41 points)

6. Julian Wilson (36 points)

7. Nate Florence (35 points)

8. Griffin Colapinto (28 points)

=9. Dane Reynolds (22 points)

=9. Seth Moniz (22 points)

=11. Kai Lenny (15 points)

=11. Lucas Chumbo (15 points)

Females (Top 5):

1. Steph Gilmore (12 points)

2. Carissa Moore (5 points)

=3. Keala Kennelly (4 points)

=3. Bethany Hamilton (4 points)

=3. Caroline Marks (4 points)

Tomorrow we’ll Day 8, when we hear from a world champ, a supercoach, the Former best surfer in the world, a John John-esque talent and a big wave vlogger:

Joel Parkinson

Jake Paterson

Dane Reynolds

Jack Robinson

Koa Rothman 


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