Colapinto talks world title dreams and what it would mean for San Clemente to bring the title home
At 25 years old, Griffin Colapinto wasn’t even born the last time a surfer from California won a world title. That surfer was Tom Curren, who won the last of his three world titles in 1990.
Fast-forward to the 2023 Rip Curl WSL Finals, and Colapinto could make some serious history this week.
Before all the action gets underway, the San Clemente Times caught up with Colapinto to see how he was handling the pressure and what he expects for finals day.
JH: It’s the morning of the final, you wake up at home and roll down to the same beach you’ve surfed your whole life with a chance to win the world title. Have you thought about the day?
Griffin Colapinto: Oh, yeah, I’ve already ran through that in my head. I just want to be myself and do what I do. I want to go down there, engage with the people, take in whatever compliments and excitement they may have.
I want to show them that I hear them and that I’m psyched and that we’re going to do this. Like, let’s frickin’ go!
I’m not the kind of person to put the headphones on and block everyone out. I want to absorb that energy and get super-amped. We’re all going to be there watching heats, and then when it’s my time to go, I can lock in.
But I want to make sure I enjoy the experience. I’m not really the serious type, so I’m just going to go down there and do my thing and see what happens.
JH: And what does that feel like, being from San Clemente and competing for a world title in your hometown?
GC: It feels pretty insane.
I’ll be the first-ever local San Clemente surfer to be going for a world title in the WSL Finals, so that’s pretty rad. And having it at my home break at Lowers, I couldn’t be more stoked.
It sounds like everyone’s coming down. I’m not really sure what to expect. It could be pretty crazy.
JH: There have been a lot of world-class surfers to emerge from this area over the years; you think about the legacy and what it means to be leading this next generation?
GC: Yeah, I’ve thought about that. It sounds pretty nuts.
The other day, I saw Archy (Matt Archbold) out at T-Street, and he was psyched for me and sounded like he’s going to come down and watch. Chris Ward, too; The Gudauskas brothers.
All these guys are getting psyched, and it gets me psyched. It’s a cool feeling.
JH: Plus, you’ve got your whole crew that you surf with every day: Kolohe (Andino), your brother, and that whole 2% Surf crew; you guys are all pushing each other. And it’s having a big impact?
GC: My brother Crosby is three years younger than me, and he and Cole (Houshmand) will be on Tour next year. And then there’s Kade (Matson) and Jett (Schilling), who I feel like they’re going to make it, too.
Kolohe kind of took me under his wing when I was younger, and now we’re all there supporting each other. We all want everyone to succeed, so we’re super open with what’s worked for us, and also try and talk about anything that’s going on.
That’s hard, because we’re going through the same things and have the same goals.
JH: You could be the first California surfer to win the world title since Tom Curren in 1990. Did you ever envision your name next to Curren, a three-time world champ?
GC: It’s psycho. I mean, to have your name there in the same conversation as Tom Curren, it’s pretty crazy.
But to be honest, maybe it’s not that surprising, because I’ve had this dream since I was a kid, since I started surfing. To win a world title, it was my original goal, and it’s what I’ve been going for my whole life.
I’ve always had this steady trajectory; there was never this fast spike where things changed overnight. There’s always been this steady pace, so I’m not really surprised that I’m in this position.
I’m just stoked to see that what I’ve been doing has been working and that I’ve been making this progress in my career.
I’m pretty sure at some point I’ll get a world title, whether that’s this year or five years from now, everyone’s got their time if you just keep working and never give up.
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN DOWNTOWN SAN CLEMENTE DURING THE RIP CURL WSL FINALS:
Friday, Sept. 8
Surf Market on the San Clemente library lawn from 1-6 p.m. It will feature surf artists, surf industry pop-ups, and live music from T-Street Zoo from 4-6 p.m. There will also be live music from the band Perfect Blend from 6-10 p.m. at H.H. Cotton’s, where 50% of all orders on the Heart of Maui will go to the Maui Relief Fund.
Saturday, Sept. 9
Live music at H.H. Cotton’s from 8-11 p.m. with San Clemente local band The Chordovas. Fifty percent of all orders on the Heart of Maui will go to the Maui Relief Fund.
Friday, Sept. 8, – Friday, Sept. 15
Downtown storefront decorating contest in which San Clemente residents will be voting for best decoration of downtown shops. A mural to celebrate local San Clemente surfer Griffin Colapinto is also presently being done in the heart of downtown on the side of H.H. Cotton’s.