Surfing-Griffin Colapinto on joy and the art of surfing

By Lincoln Feast

(Reuters) – Griffin Colapinto finished surfing’s 10-stop pro tour last month ranked second in the world, having qualified to represent Team USA at the 2024 Paris Olympics and with a spot booked in this month’s Rip Curl WSL Finals to crown a world champion.


“I look at that on paper and expect to feel an abundance of joy. But for some reason I feel nothing and I can’t understand why,” the 25-year-old Californian said in an Instagram post soon after, talking through his anxieties, his self-doubts and the importance of being in the moment.

Colapinto’s powerful and radical surfing has made him a fan favourite with many during his best year on tour yet, but his willingness to share his darker moments has also struck a chord.

“I feel like I’m in the position where a lot of people look at my life and think ‘He’s got it all, he’s got the best life ever, probably happy all the time’. And I just want to be real with people, be vulnerable and show some things that are hard for me,” Colapinto told Reuters ahead of the Finals.

“Life isn’t perfect, and being able to help people relate with each other, I want to be more open, be a good role model for being open to talk about deep things that are kind of uncomfortable to talk about.”

Self-doubts aside, Colapinto is perhaps the best placed surfer to deny number one ranked Filipe Toledo of Brazil back-to-back world titles when the one-day competition kicks off at Lower Trestles in Southern California sometime between Sept. 8- 16.

While Toledo has relocated to Southern California and surfs Trestles as well as anyone ever, Colapinto grew up nearby and is sure to have huge hometown support.

“I’ve grown up surfing there since I was super little and I know the lineup really well, and what waves do what. Even just having the support of the crowd and all my friends and family there – I feed off that energy, so I definitely feel like I’ve got a bit of an advantage, for sure.”

Colapinto has claimed three world tour victories in the past two years – two of them in finals against Toledo – and is relishing the prospect of battling the Brazilian for a world title.

“We’ve had some really good battles right now on tour,” Colapinto said. “Our record is 3-3, we’re tied against each other, so yeah, if we can match up against each other, I think it could be a really fun one.”

Next year, the rivalry will have an extra dimension, with both surfers qualifying for the Olympics to be held at the imposing reefbreak of Teahupo’o on Tahiti.

“To win a contest there is so difficult and it’s so rewarding because it’s such a scary wave, and such a beautiful wave,” Colapinto said.

“The fact that the Olympics is there is crazy. In my lifetime, I don’t know if we’ll ever see the Olympics at a wave like that, so I’m really stoked I’m in it and I want to make the most of it.”

Come what may, Colapinto says he is focused on enjoying the process.

“It’s easy to build up these expectations in your head that if I achieve this, I’m going to feel so good, I’m going to feel amazing, all my problems are going to go away or whatever. And then you achieve it and you realize nothing really changes.

“You’re still who you are and it’s still the little things that really make you happy in life.”

(Reporting by Lincoln Feast in Sydney; Editing by Peter Rutherford)