By Matt Walker
See Nick Rupp's face? That crazed grimace is the result of Contestile Dysfunction - aka Heat Stroke - a growing epidemic among young surfers who engage in a non-stop diet of competition from amateurs to specialties to Junior Pros, leaving his expression and mind in a state of permanent tweakedness. But, occasionally, the affliction pays off. Like last week when the nearly 17-year-old North Carolinian took three straight Juniors wins: two in Volcom 'Cooterfish' comps, plus a victory in the ESA Easterns. (Keenan Lineback also repeated her Jr. Women's win , while fellow South Carolinian Cam Richards won Boys.). Not only does that guarantee Nick spots in next year's VQS and Surfing USA Championships, he can finally strip the friggin' jersey for a few hours -- actually 10 full days -- as he heads to Fiji on his first 110 percent freesurf trip since February. We caught up with the five-time Easterns winner as he packed his bags mere hours before his flight.
SURFING Magazine: Three wins. Good waves. Nice way to cap off a busy week, huh?
Nick Rupp: Busy month, really. There's been contest after contest. I did the USA Championships, got back, and then went to New Jersey for the pro junior, then the weekend after was the Volcom event in Wrightsville, then Hatteras for Easterns, then Volcom on the Outer Banks, and now home for two days. I think I've been gone more than I've been here. But it's been fun. Sunday morning I surfed for four hours before the contest. Broke my board on the third wave and had to borrow Granger Clark's. I could barely turn it, but it was barreling so I just pulled in all day. And now I go to Fiji.
Is it hard to do good trips like that with all the contests?
I haven't been on a trip in so long. It's almost all contests. Hawaii was actually the last surf trip I went on and that was February. No. Wait. I went to Puerto Rico late spring. No, never mind, that was for a contest, so I can't really count that. [laughs].
Sure you're ready?
Yeah, I'm ready. Just a trip with the boys. Tommy [Carey] is coming too. I've never been to Fiji, but I just got off the phone with Parker Coffin. He's got me all psyched up to go. I guess there's a 10-foot swell coming in.
So you're packing all fishes.
Are you gonna miss all your groupies back home?
Groupies? I don't know about that.
Really? We heard there were girls randomly flashing you at local restaurants during Easterns.
Oh! [laughs] You heard about that, huh? That girl was crazy.
Crazy gnarly. She looked like a commercial fisherman.
Sounds like a great date for Fiji. When do you leave?
Oh yeah, she's coming. I leave for California tomorrow. Get in late. Then I'm gonna hangout on all day Thursday and head to Fiji that night.
Perfect. You should be able to squeeze in a quick comp between flights.
[laughs] You're right. I could jam in a few heats. I better get my WSA membership real quick.
Footage of the Volcom Cooterfish event in Wrightsville