Season of Seabass: Zietz Wins Triple Crown, Qualifies for World Tour and Makes History
Just a month ago, Sebastian ‘Seabass’ Zietz was just another talented surfer on the bubble of contention, the fringe of relevancy. What set him apart were his dance moves, three thumbs and perpetually-stoked approach to surfing and life. Other than that, he seemed destined to follow the same near-miss path that so many of Hawaii’s talents have traveled before him.
Today, almost everything is different for Seabass. He’s the talk of the surf industry and the guy getting all the headlines even though there’s a world title chase ongoing. But he’s still a dancing, ukulele-playing jokester.
What a journey it’s been for the 24-year-old from Kauai. Heading into Hawaii, after spending the year competing on the World Qualifying Series (WQS) chasing important ratings points, Seabass was in search of one decent result. In the first event on the North Shore in late November, he won at Haleiwa and secured his place on the 2013 ASP World Tour . With his finals appearance at Sunset a week later he secured his wildcard spot into the Billabong Pipeline Masters. And with his Round 2 victory on Sunday at Pipeline, he earned the right to add his name to the long, legendary list of Triple Crown champions.
“It’s just crazy. Qualifying for the WCT has been my goal, so to accomplish that is my life’s accomplishment. And then to win the Triple Crown – that’s just been a dream. That wasn’t even on my list at all, but now that that’s happened, it’s an absolute dream come true,” said Seabass, who’s still in contention at the Pipe Masters. “Hopefully I can keep the momentum going and make another final and do what only Andy [Irons]’s done.”
Heading into the Pipe Masters, the final of three events that comprise the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, Seabass was comfortable in the ratings lead, but he needed a decent result to lock up the vaunted achievement. When his Oakley teammate, Adam Melling – who had his own stunning run in Hawaii, winning the Sunset Beach event and re-qualifying for the World Tour – lost in Round 2, Seabass was officially the 2012 champ.
Winning the Triple Crown is, arguably, second only to winning the world title. Because of the weight of the moment and because Seabass is one of the most popular surfers on the North Shore, his Oakley teammates, friends and family helped him to celebrate in style: instead of chairing him to the podium, he was hoisted up on a 10-foot green surfboard and carried on their shoulders. The moment took “crowd-surfing” to a whole new level.
As the moment unfolded, Mark “Occy” Occhilupo, a legend of the sport, was up in the commentary booth and called it the best celebration ever. “That is legendary,” said Occy, of the surfboard-carrying treatment. “[Seabass] is such a character, just so vibrant. He’s just so comfortable in his own skin and funny.”
“I’m just doing it for everyone in Kauai and everyone in Hawaii,” said Seabass, once up on the podium, with nearly every camera on the packed beach pointing his way. “Thanks everyone who comes down and watches us, you’re the reason we have a job. Thanks to Andy [Irons], you’re the one giving me the power. I’m so stoked. I don’t know what to say. It’s just amazing. I’d like to thank everyone who was a part of it. So many people have helped me throughout my life. The list goes on and on; you guys know who you are.”
Along with having his named engraved next to that of his surfing idol and fellow Kauaian, the late Andy Irons, Seabass also won a check from Vans for $100,000, a $10,000 watch from Nixon, and a $30,000 Harley-Davidson. He’s already begun making plans for his winnings.
“The Harley, well I’ve already talked to the dealership and they said I could trade it in for a car. I would love to goof around on that thing, but I’d probably end up killing myself,” Seabass joked. “As for the money, I’ll probably put down on a piece of property. Growing up, my parents always rented. We’ve never owned anything, so it would be good to put down on a piece of property and break that streak and give something to the kids.”
The season of Seabass isn’t yet over. Minutes after being showered with adoration and attention and beer, he was back in the lineup at Pipeline. He was up against the defending Triple Crown champ and one of the best Pipeline and all-around surfers in the world, John John Florence. Seabass dominated. He’d win his following heat as well and advance to the quarterfinals. The contest is currently on hold until the next swell arrives. If Seabass makes the final – which would mean he made the final of every stop of the Triple Crown in a single season – he’ll join an illustrious club which includes only one other surfer in history: Andy Irons.
The run has shocked even Seabass. Through it all, he’s managed to remain composed and relatively unfazed, still dancing around the house and eating cheeseburgers between heats.
“[Oakley Surf Team Manager] Ronny Nelson has been saying, and I think it kind of sums up my confidence right now – don’t mistake my psych for confidence," Seabass said. "I don’t feel like I’m really that confident, I’m more just super stoked and really excited.”