Talking Triple Crown and North Shore Favorities With Sebastian "Seabass" Zietz
Sebastian “Seabass” Zietz is back to his preferred fighting weight. During that European leg of the ASP World Tour – with stops in France and Portugal – the guy did some eating. “I was at like 185 and I’m usually 175,” he says over the phone, while scarfing down a snack at home on Kauai. “I had a full belly going. But two days back home and I was back to normal.” Non-stop surfing and a healthy dose of hanging with the large Zietz clan will do that.
In the next couple days he’ll take the short flight to Oahu and post up in the Oakley House on the North Shore, right in front of Off the Wall. The Triple Crown officially kicks off today, with the waiting period beginning for the Reef Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa, the event Seabass won last year and the one that ignited his miraculous run to World Tour qualification and the Triple Crown title.
For now, he’s just cruising. He’s seeded into the Round of 64 at Haleiwa, so he has time, so we got him on the phone.
What changed in your surfing or your approach to surfing last year that enabled you to win the Triple Crown?
Well, a big part of it was that I felt really confident in my boards, which is huge. But the thing that changed for me from most every contest was just that it was in Hawaii. I felt comfortable and I wasn’t taking any shit from anybody, I just held my own. Plus, I felt like I had a lot of pressure, like I was surfing for my career, so I was super focused and just kind of slowed myself down before heats. The waves in Hawaii, it’s usually better if you’re patient.
How has your rookie season on the ASP World Tour better prepared you for Triple Crown season?
My rookie season has been good, a lot of fun, bigger waves, more waves like Haleiwa, Sunset and Pipe. It’s much better practice than what you surf on the WQS, which is mostly waist to head high junk surf. It’s also great to have this break before the contests because I got to go home to Kauai and just surf and hang with the family.
Which event of the three do you most look forward to?
It’s got to be Pipe. You’re out there every day trying to get your wave at Pipe with a million guys out, just waiting, and the whole time you’re just thinking about surfing your heat and getting any wave you want, getting to be in the right spot when the set comes and just test yourself and do it. Really, every event has its bonuses; my least favorite, for sure, is Sunset. But even there, if you get one of those north swells and catch one that runs downs the point, it can be super fun. And Haleiwa is just super rippable. Really, that’s why the Triple Crown is so amazing because it tests all aspects of your surfing.
What’s the scene like on the North Shore when the Triple Crown comes to town?
Once the Triple Crown begins, I really kind of feel for the guys who live there year-round. They have to deal with every surfer from around the world coming to their hombreak, hungry trying to make a name for themselves, trying to get photos or trying to qualify. It’s a zoo out in the water. The local guys don’t dig it, but I’ve kind of grown to love the scene over there. It’s super fun at the Oakley House; you wake up and look out the window at Off The Wall. The only hard part is getting away from the crowd, but you make it work.
With it being such a non-stop party over there, is it difficult to stay focused?
It’s probably harder for the younger guys. I still feel young, but I’m actually not as young as the other guys who are trying to get on Tour. I’ve been on the North Shore for 10 years during the season, so I know there’s always going to be another party. And actually, when I’m psyching up for my heats, I think about how if I win it’s a better reason to party, so I psych up to dance music and think about the party afterward.
What was the better moment last year: being chaired up the beach after winning at Haleiwa or the surfboard chairing after winning the Triple Crown?
They’re close, but I think it has to be getting chaired at Haleiwa; that was the highlight because I pretty much had qualified and won the comp. It was just baffling; I couldn’t believe it. I was just happy to be in final, so then to win it, when I came in, I had such a weird feeling. That whole two months, I didn’t know what was going on. Like a month later, I watched like the Triple Crown highlights and I got choked up. I guess I didn’t realize what I’d accomplished until then. In the moment, it was just such a whirlwind.
In case you make it out to the North Shore, here’s a few insights about where to go and who to look for from Seabass himself.
Favorite Grinds: For sure, Pupukea Grill. Aunty B always takes care of us, gives us treats, like banana bread.
Favorite Wave (other than Pipeline): After last year, Haleiwa, but not just because of the comp. After the comp I was pretty psyched on it and surfed it a lot more. It’s super fun, super rippable. It reminds me of a wave on Kauai, plus it’s nice to escape and get away from crowd.
Favorite Way to Pass Time When the Waves Go Flat: I like to play ukulele, make up freestyles; put on a good movie and close the blinds; play some football, we had lots of good games last year; maybe go to town, do some shopping (laughs).
Most Classic Guy: Danny Fuller and [Kai] Barger; those two are always super classic. But I have to give it to Fuller, he’s so classic. He has so many stories and is just a good guy. He’s super nice, never too cool for anyone.