Johnny Cabianca Australia tour
Johnny Cabianca makes landfall in Australia. | Photo: @lucasbalbino_

Gabriel Medina’s lifelong surfboard designer Johnny Cabianca arrives in Australia on shaping tour

A real-life virtuoso artist. But blink and you’ll miss!

If there’s one thing you’ll know about Gabriel Medina, it’s his devotion to the shaper Johnny Cabianca, the virtuoso artist who’s been building Medina’s boards since 2009. 

Back then, it was Johnny Cabianca’s old pal Charlie Medina, Gabriel Medina’s now estranged step-daddy, who asked Johnny to shape his sixteen-year-old prodigy boards for the European leg of the WQS. 

Their relationship was cemented when Gabriel Medina ruled that year’s King of the Grommets contest in Hossegor. Five tens in the event, two in the final. Slater telling the world Medina was gonna win ten world titles. At least.

Johnny had thrown three rockers at Medina. He chose the flattest. 

And for a dozen years, the boards only changed in foil and outline as Medina grew, the essence of the board, the the full concave, the rocker, stayed the same. 

Johnny called it the DFK. Da Freak Kid. So named after commentator Martin Potter who kept referencing Medina as The Freak Kid on the webcast. 

But let’s bring it back to me, to you. 

I like a pro board that’s easy to ride. 

Always looking for hacks. Short-cuts. Hard-work, coaching, YouTube tutorials and hours in the water ain’t my MO. A couple of years back, I ordered two of Johnny Cabianca’s creations straight from his factory in Zarautz. I knew the freight was gonna exhaust my bank balance but believed Johnny Cabianca was selling magic carpets. 

The two boards, a 5’’10” Medina and a 5’11” DFK were blindingly easy to ride. No special skills needed. Anyone who could arrive at a standing position, and knew the nose from the tail, could pilot  ‘em. 

Our lovingly remembered tour and surfboard correspondent, Longtom, rode a six-o Johnny Cabianca-shaped DFK in the exact same measurements as the three-time world champ. 

“I never pretend to be anything more than high intermediate, competent is the vain term. The DFK is a board that is reassuringly easy to come to grips with,” wrote LT. “After riding various high-performance shortboards I’ve come to believe that control is the most important variable.

“Johnny Cabianca has put a high-performance sled square into the Goldilocks zone for the average recreational surfer. I cannot recommend highly enough.

“Gabe’s DFK is the easiest pro level board I’ve wrangled.”

Both my boards were eventually creased but never sent into the trash wilderness, the magic pair occupying a purgatory in the corner of a room, one day hoping to be reunited with Johnny Cabianca so he could replicate. 

The COVID thing made freight impossibly expensive and I’ve waited out these subsequent years for Johnny Cabianca to make landfall on Australian shores. 

Which he is. Tomoz. 

Johnny Cabianca shaping in Australia Gabriel Medina
Come and get a little gold from the magic hands of Johnny Cabianca.

For one week, Johnny Cabianca will be shaping a dozen boards a day, maybe more, at the Surfboard Empire factory up there on the Queensland border. 

And Johnny, who’s sixty but presents as a strong man who could do the laborious hewing and chinking on a log cabin, is hands on. 

“I have Friday, Saturday, Sunday Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, before I start to come back to Spain,” says Cabianca, adding he’ll carve Medina’s Bells and Margaret River quivers while he’s in town. 

If you’re wondering, Medina’s Bells and Margaret’s boards differ from the small-wavers he’ll ride in Portugal with half-a-litre, at least, extra volume on a rack of boards between six-o and six two. All of ’em are round-tails, all around thirty to thirty-two litres, with only the rails differing markedly tween Margs and Bells. 

“The rail for Bells is more round, more soft, the rail should be more free there, that’s what I feel,” says Cabianca. “When he moves to Margarets it’s different. I do the rail a little more sharp, same volume. Last year he won the contest with a six-one and the waves were…wow…the waves were scary, that final was heavy! And the board works really well, stability and how he was finishing the last manoeuvre was everything. I’ll try and keep that sharp rail, more drive in the rail, more penetration.”

For the mostly small waves of Portugal, Medina is all over swallow tails. 

“For good scores, the people, the judges, they want more open curves with more velocity not the slow movements,” says Cabianca. “With the swallow you can break the line faster, you can change the nose direction faster.”

What can average surfers expect from a Cabianca, a DFK or a Medina, the big-sellers?

“Well, how can I say, it’s like this: everybody looking at Gabriel’s surfing and a good surfer is always a mystery,” says Cabianca. “When a good surfer tries to surf with my boards, they feel something different, because they have something where they can read well the wave. They know how to move the board. The DFK has a lot of concave, more rocker… if it’s a good wave or there’s a good pocket in the wave and the guy knows how to use the board in those conditions, it’s easy to surf and comfortable. The good surfer can use a lot of pressure on the board and it works. 

“When it’s not a beginner but not a really good surfer, the first sensation is a stiff board. It’s what I hear, when the guy arrives to me, ‘The board feels a little bit stiff, the board is not working well, I need to pump a lot’ I like to see the guy surfing. Sometimes it’s not a good surfer and we have different models for this.”

Like the Medina. 

“The Medina is the opposite,” says Cabianca. “It’s for these kind of surfers, like me for example. I’m old but with a lot of pain in the back and the arms are not so strong anymore. But never stop to surf! And here, the Medina is more flat, more wide, the rail is more full. I try to bring all the volume to the rail, more stability, not a lot of concave.People can move better the rail to rail when you don’t have a lot of concave in the front foot. It’s a good board in really bad conditions.”

Cabianca says he gets told by his team riders that the Medina isn’t high performance, that it’s a good board, sure, but not for good waves or for wining heats. 

At which point, Cabianca points ‘em to Snapper, 2014, when Medina, riding a Medina, became the first Brazilian to win the contest, beating small-town boy Joel Parkinson for the trophy. 

One thing he hasn’t ever been super into, Cabianca or Medina, is epoxies. 

Medina used to hate ‘em, but now fools around with vacuum-wrapped carbon shooters in the off-season or for fun at the myriad wave pools in Brazil. 

Judges, says Cabianca, aren’t fooled by their liveliness. 

“Man, I don’t see many guys using super-light epoxies. I don’t know if epoxies can give you the same answers, the same ability to connect manoeuvres as PU boards,” says Cabianca. “PU works well for the connection. 

Johnny Cabianca says Medina will burn through a hundred boards a year, maybe a dozen more if he’s been doin’ a few side trips.

Do they come back or does Medina keep ’em? 

Johnny hoots and says he was at Medina’s house last Christmas and he was stunned by how many boards he had, some completely new, unwaxed, others still inside their plastic bags. When he started to examine the boards closely, Medina begged him not to touch.

Johnny Cabianca signature.
The mark of the master sorcerer, Johnny Cabianca. Photo: Lucas Balbino

“He likes to give to friends when he receives friends at home, likes to give the boards to people to use. He’s using the boards to make people happy,” says Cabianca.

Medina’s generosity was felt as far afield as Abu Dhabi when Medina joined Kelly Slater on the unveiling of Slater’s UAE pool.

“I prepared five boards and I think, man, I’ll do something new. New rockers. New foil. A board for doing more manoeuvres in the short space of this wave. I close this box and I send to Brazil.”

Medina, who flew to Abu Dhabi with Slater and pool wizard Filipe Toledo via the Ments where they enjoyed a surprisingly waveless seven days, ended up riding his old shooters and gifting the painstakingly created new boards to “the princes and the rich guys.”

Cabianca says Medina told him, “Every night, Johnny, every night was dinner, these guys were receiving us. For sure I’m going to give something to the guys!” 

Want one? 

I’ve cut a deal, as you might’ve guessed for my two boards, both Medinas, six-o and a six-one. Daytime diamonds I call ’em,.

A few ads, a story, which I would’ve written anyway, god bless Johnny Cabianca etc.

These things are gonna be by my side for the next three years, with a Biolos here and there for a little extra colour.

The deal is: $999-ish AUD, or six-fifty US, and it’ll come inside a Creatures or equivalent board bag. 

First twenty orders get a shot at winning Gabriel’s own board. 

All boards get Cabianca’s love, attention to detail and that swooping signature, proof your new surfboard has been made with individuality and enthusiasm. 

Caity Simmers (pictured) swinging a sledgehammer at the Wall of Positive Noise.
Caity Simmers (pictured) swinging a sledgehammer at the Wall of Positive Noise.

As Pipe Pro champ Caity Simmers’ “Pipeline for the f*cking girls” goes viral, World Surf League rethinks toddler-friendly brand identity

A crack in the Wall of Positive Noise.

The most notable moment of this young 2024 World Surf League Championship Season, even more than Filipe Toledo’s shock mental health break, is certainly Oceanside’s Caity Simmers putting on a dominant Lexus Pipe Pro performance and punctuating it with the now-iconic “Pipeline for the fucking girls.”

As Jen See penned, “It was a quote for the ages on a day that made legends. It was one of the best-ever days of women’s surfing, pure and simple. The women set a new mark at Pipeline one of the world’s most fearsome waves. We’ve never seen anything like it in women’s surfing.”

Caity Simmers became a star overnight, shining so brightly that even the authentic-adverse World Surf League is, currently, re-thinking its ultra G-rated brand identity.

Chief of Sport Jessie Miley-Dyer took to instagram in order to declare:

Finals day at the Lexus Pipe Pro felt like a dream, and I think because it was actually, just that : a day where the dreams of past generations of women in surfing were recognized while watching @caitysimmers @picklummolly and dueling in solid Pipe and Backdoor … trading heats with our World Champions @john_john_florence and local heroes like @barronmamiya , raising the bar higher each time they paddled out. Watching our men and women get spat out of 8ft barrels one after the other, with the crowd going nuts for everyone, is for sure the privilege of a lifetime for me and @travislogie. A day I will never forget 💙 And with that, probably all that’s left to say is: Pipeline’s for the f*cken girls forever more 🤣🤷🏼‍♀️”

Surf fans don’t have to dig far into the archives in order to remember the many fines given to professional surfers for using no-no words during, or near, World Surf League events. Will Leo Fioravanti, Italo Ferreira et. al. feel discriminated against and demand refunds, with interest?

Will another professional surfer, like Caity Simmers at Pipe, dare utter swears at the upcoming Sunset Beach Pro?

Who and what will they say?

Logan (center right) demonstrating how he can destroy two things at once (professional surfing and the Los Angeles Clippers).
Logan (center right) demonstrating how he can destroy two things at once (professional surfing and the Los Angeles Clippers).

Snakebit NBA franchise Los Angeles Clippers partners with former World Surf League CEO Erik Logan in wildly ill-advised move

Poo-poo touch.

As most know, the National Football League wrapped its 2023/24 season over the weekend with the Kansas City Chiefs defeating the San Francisco 49ers to win their third Super Bowl in five years and, officially, becoming a dynasty. While successful organizations are amazing to observe, what they do, decisions made that separate the great from the good etc. those snakebit franchises are equally fascinating.

How do some teams, for example, make such bad choices that even statistical odds are denied?

In the NFL, say, the Cleveland Browns have never once been to the Big Game even though being founded in 1944. Major League Baseball has the Seattle Mariners, which have never been to the World Series and the National Basketball Association delivers the Los Angeles Clippers, a notoriously stained franchise that has never tasted the Finals.

Long-suffering Clips fans have become very excited, this year, with a chance to break the curse. James Harden was brought over in the offseason to compliment Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. After early bumps and bruises, the Clippers have gelled and now sport a 35 – 17 record, third best in the Western Conference, and a real chance at the title.

But not anymore.

Over the weekend former, and ruthlessly fired, World Surf League CEO Erik Logan announced that he was producing at least one episode of “Ballervision” for the Los Angeles Clippers.

Per Instagram:

Thank you LA Clippers! Had a great time producing the Ballervision Broadcast with these legends! First one of the year! This is a great new project taking some of the best in their fields and creating an all new broadcast for basketball fans.

By using some of the best play by play hosts, Clippers Legend’s and celebrity guests, these broadcasts are not only informative, but fun to be a part of! I have loved my long association with the Clippers and this is just another fantastic way to contribute. Details forth coming on the next one! Go Clips!

As surf fans know, Logan poses the rare “poo-poo touch.” Everything the Oklahoman with a magical wetsuit of armor comes in contact with immediately turns to… the opposite of gold. Logan was brought into surfing to run the WSL Studios, which shuttered with only one lightly regarded film within the year. He failed upward to CEO where he produced the worst reality program in history, introduced “final’s day,” which may well undo the WSL and destroyed Filipe Toledo on his way out the door.

It is “just so Clippers” for them to, essentially, shoot their own foot right when things were looking up.

Or… might these two negatives equal a positive?

More as the story develops.

Surf fans beg Nathan Florence to keep miraculous South Pacific discovery secret

“Future heartbreak to see 100 surfers, jet skis, the island filled with sleeping huts and dug-out human waste pits…”

Three months back, Nathan Florence, brother of US Olympian John John, officially spiked the Jan Brady curse and become the alpha male of the Florence squad, which also includes the sexiest brother of them all Ivan, when he was voted surfer of the year. 

Through the course of 2023 Nathan Florence, who turns thirty in June, rarely missed a slab or ledge session whether it was in Hawaii, Australia, Scotland or Ireland.

His diligence was rewarded when he was awarded Ride of the Year and Surfer of the Year at the Big Wave Challenge awards in Nazaré, Portugal.

One month ago, and on day one of the Lexus Pipe Pro waiting period, Nathan Florence released footage of a “mutated, backless right reef slab somewhere in the Solomon Islands.” 

Our correspondent asked “Could the timing of this release be a Machiavellian play by the wildly talented duo? A thinly veiled show of hand to the WSL  – and the world – of John John’s true intentions for his career?”

No waves were ridden by Nathan Florence and John John wouldn’t even paddle out, too dangerous, too far from a hozzy, he said. 

Part two was subsequently promised and, earlier today, Nathan Florence released the fruits of their travels in the South Pacific, the crowning glory a righthander in water so clear its seems to speak of some hidden soul beneath.

One surf fan was quick to beg Nathan Florence not to reveal the location of their bejewelled find, however, posting:

The most beautiful footage!!! Thank you. BOYS PLEASE DONT DISCLOSE THE LOCATION – future heartbreak to see 100 surfers, jet skis, the island filled with sleeping huts and dug-out human waste pits, diesel gasoline shimmering on the water, no more crabs and wildlife running around, and 20 vessels tied up offshore. THIS IS A MOMENT TIME when you, (Florence LLC), have control over the health of our ocean and environment over our own human pleasure of wanting to simply surf.

A fine sentiment, although many other viewers were of the opinion that it wasn’t so secret and therefore who cares.

haha, true. but if you look at the Charter there’s a very similar expert level wave…that expensive catamaran just didn’t appear adrift to the people there…but whatever…&00& earf isn’t super new… i’m not here to argue

pretty sure everyone knows where the right barreling point break is in the solomon islands…

lol yeah the Solomons. That’s where this is.

I can see on Google Earth where it is, but the 7 day boat ride in Pt 1 probably will keep the 100 surfers and jet skis from this spot.

I used to be in the latter camp but am now firmly in the first.

I always like a mystery, a surprise, a jack in the box.



John John Florence (pictured) being odds on.
John John Florence (pictured) being odds on.

As World Surf League loses third champion in under a month, internet technicians are left to wonder who’s next?

John John Florence are you there? It's me, Nathan.

I’ve been calling it for months now. This is the last season of this current iteration of professional surfing known as the World Surf League which was founded in 1976 circa 2015. Publishing nepo babillonaire Dirk Ziff purchased the Association of Surfing Professionals for free during President Barack Obama’s last year in office, rebranded the show World Surf League under former NFL exec Paul Speaker and promised it would soon be the biggest sport on earth.

Ziff, who co-won Waterperson of the Year in 2018 and was still high on his tax write-off supply, then excoriated “haters” by declaring, “But don’t pretend you don’t know that when you go beyond constructive criticism and cynically try to rally negative sentiment towards the WSL, when you try to take us down, you are not just going after us. You are going after Kelly Slater. You are trying to take down Lakey Peterson. You are going after the dreams of Caroline Marks and Griffin Colapinto. You are undermining the hopes of every kid who lives with salt in their hair, dreaming of being a world champion one day.”

Well, the dreams of Carissa Moore, Stephanie Gilmore and Filipe Toledo have all ended, or been put on pause, in a whirlwind one-month span.

Each champion at, or near, prime.

All now gone.

Every one, save maybe Toledo, due World Surf League incompetence.

Him, let’s be honest, too (see: poo-poo touch, reimagined final’s format).

What to make of that but, more importantly, who’s next?

Toledo’s dip certainly opens the door to a potential world title for someone else, but has the cup become so devalued under Ziff’s rein that it is, essentially, meaningless?

John John Florence is the odds on favorite to flee and would that be enough to actually sink the “global home of surfing” before it sells to Saudi Arabia?

More on that hot rumor later, also why Kelly Slater is the odds off favorite to jump ship.

Who you got, in any case?

A prop bet funner than Taylor Swift.