What does 2X Freshwater Pro champ Gabby have under his feet?

It’s a unique time for surfing. Not just because of wave pools, but because for the past decade regular surfers have had access to the exact same designs as pro team riders. With the advent of brand models, those magic recipes are replicated with each board. And, as more surfers take to surf parks those of us not on tour can benefit from the pros’ obsessive fine-tuning.

Through the lens of the World Surf League Gabriel Medina is the wave pool champion, having claimed two Freshwater Pro titles.

“When Gabriel is competing at the Freshwater Pro he is using the regular boards he rides throughout the year,” said Johnny Cabianca of Basque Country Surf. “ He uses The Medina model on the right because the wave is weaker, and the DFK 2.0 on the left as it’s a bit more powerful.

Gabriel’s signature model features fuller rails, a flatter deck and low rocker for speed. The bottom contour is a combination of concave to V bottom.

“But in fact the first contest he won at Kelly’s pool, was with the Bandida model” added Johnny.

gabriel medina
Gabriel Medina’s Kerrupt Flip at the 2018 Freshwater Pro. Photo WSL

Both Matt Biolos and Christiaan Bradley told WavePoolMag that their team riders tend to stick with standard ocean-tested shortboards for the wave at Kelly’s. While other pools like BSR’s PerfectSwell require certain tweaks such as epoxy construction and added rocker to fit in the tight transitions.

For his boards at Kelly’s Gabby goes lighter on the volume and a tad shorter than normal depending on which wave direction he’s riding. After his 2018 win Gabriel decided to stick with the same design for 2019.

“It worked last year so I just kept the same thing,” Medina told surfboard reviewer Noel Salas. “I normally ride a 5’11” at 29 liters but at the Surf Ranch I’m riding 28 liters. On the left I’ll use a 5’10” instead.”

Many surfboard makers are shifting toward pool-specific designs with Chemistry, Cheyne Magnusson’s board maker, launching a specific model called the Pool Toy.

Despite shaping boards for the wave pool world champ, Cabianca and Basque Surfboard Company have only launched wake surfing and standing wave models. The Zero Salt uses a unique bottom contour and fin setup to work in static waves. The Slash is their wake surfing model that differs from ocean craft with honed down rails and lower volume.

“We make models for inland surfing, static waves, and wake surfing because these waves are really different,” said Cabianca. “For the wave pools, of course, there are different pools with different waves, but “normal surfboards“ work perfectly. No need to create extra models.”

Cabianca’s Zero Salt for standing waves (left) and The Slash for wake surfing

Top Image by Ilmo Niittymäki

Endless Surf 2023A