Gabriel Medina

The Brazilian wunderkind is not messing around

Some of us don't take much seriously. As kids, we surfed with our dad and sprayed him. We cut off our friends and mooned them. Our dads saw this behavior and erupted with that same line, "Would you quit dicking around?" It's the reason why we're not 19 years old, winning contests, ranked seventh in the world and still unsatisfied with those accomplishments. It's why we're not like Gabs Medina. —Beau Flemister

Portrait By Steve Sherman

SURFING: What was the main thing you learned this past year on tour?
Gabriel Medina: Really, I learned more about each of the tour stops. Since a lot of the breaks are reoccurring locations, I think it's important to know them in order to mature your surfing at each spot. That, and then I learned a lot more about my equipment (surfboards). Like what to ride where.

Did you feel the judging on tour was fair for you last year, or not?
In my view, the ASP judges did a great job in 2012, and both personally and publically, I congratulate them. I feel that they hit the mark 95 percent of the time, and only 5 percent of the time did I doubt their judgment. The sport is evolving, and I understand how hard it can be to analyze and interpret the scores of some of these new maneuvers.

You have a reputation for being very competitive. What happened in Hawaii?
I had a great time in Hawaii. Yes, I am very competitive, but in the water, I either play or I surf. If I'm playing around, I'm probably having fun on a bodyboard, or longboard, or inflatable mattress. But when the waves are good I take it very seriously and I'm focused and I'm surfing. I don't mind laughing and relaxing with friends in the water, but I'm also trying to progress and do my best. I'm trying to win a world title, and while I try not to disrespect anyone, I'm also not messing around. People talk about an incident that happened between Julian Wilson and me in Hawaii [Gabs burned Julian. Julian snapped. A verbal argument ensued]. But our encounter was something normal that happens between two athletes who like to win. I admire and respect Julian, have nothing against him and I wish him good luck in 2013.

Gabriel Medina, Hawaii. Photo: Corey Wilson