Rebelsessions through the lens: #Gunrunners – Fabian Campagnola

Fabian Campagnola

It’ s a school day and Fabian is still in his uniform. He became the youngest South African big wave regular, when he started to surf Sunset at 16 years old.

Webster is presently interviewing him for a video piece. He holds aloft a glass of chilled white wine that he’ s just been handed by Fabian’ s dad. “Sooooo," he says, trying to dial out the visual of Fabian on the dance floor at his daughters 17th birthday party. “Do you want to have a career as a big wave surfer?” (Fabian looks like he wants to apologize for damaging Neil’ s lawn with his dance moves, but instead answers.) “It’s not an option for me.” Then he leans forward and shakes his head from side to side. “No, no, sorry Neil. You're going to have to cut that out. I mean, I don’t think I could make enough to feed a family......" His voice trails off. Webster changes tack slightly and asks. "Ok, but is it your dream to make a career out of it?” Fabian shifts uncomfortably and exhales."I definitely want to do what Twiggy and Greg Long do. It would be a dream to travel the world and surf the best big waves. I don’t know about being able to do it as a professional. I mean, I’d need to be 100% on it the whole time. My whole world would need to revolve around getting to the contests and prepping for big days and wipe outs. I am gonna try push myself to becoming a pro....but I guess there’s.........aaaaaah pppp-ffffffffftttt." He exhales loudly. Webster laughs. “Does it help to have Matt Bromley around?” He asks, referring to our town’s only pro big wave surfer. “Sure!" He answers. “I see Josh Redman, Matt and James Lowe and it inspires me to go that way.” He looks down quickly and his words peater out into a soft mumble. "But it’s tricky bru....”Webster presses the kid a little harder. “So what does your perfect future look like?” Fabian laughs out load and answers without hesitation. "A job with lots of cash and not much work!" Webster chuckles. "That doesn’t exist my friend." Fabian looks undeterred and continues. "I want to live in a place with plenty of big waves and a great community.” He hesitates and says thoughtfully. “Like Kommetjie, or the North shore or Maui......pffffttttttttt." He exhales again loudly. "I don’t know, I don’t see myself anywhere bru, it’s too far away to tell now. I’m just trying to finish high school. It’s tricky bru.....”Webster takes a sip of his wine and decides to change his line of questioning. “Big waves are a scary business. How do you deal with the fear, Fabian?" The kid looks down at his shoes, as if examining them for grass stains from Neils lawn.”"Ummmmm...the day before...I struggle to sleep, the nerves kill me. But when you’re paddling out, or when you get on the boat, it gets instinctive and my nerves drop and I can deal with it.” Webster deliberately doesn’t look at Fabian’s shoes and asks, "What's the big wave crew like? I mean, you’ re paddling out at the bottom of the pecking order, aren’t you?” Fabian smiles. “The first few times I’ d feel intimidated, but over the years, they’ve accepted me and encouraged me. There are a couple of older guys who have explained stuff to me and taught me how to approach the different lineups. The heritage is amazing, it’ s only baby steps, but I’m glad to be a part of it, the brotherhood is real out there.”Webster swirls the pale liquid in his glass and asks. "Where's the biggest you’ve surfed and tell us about your meanest beating?” The blonde high school student flashes a smile. “Sunset, earlier this year was the biggest. I got a 20 footer on the head. Sometimes when I rock up at Sunset, I don’t want to paddle out. Then, I don’t know. I just start to feel courageous. That big day had long lulls, I wasn’t deep, just wide. Everyone started shouting, I thought I was gone. That wave went top to bottom right in front of me. I stood on my board so I could dive deep.....I don’ t know how long I was under. It pulled me down again just as I was coming to the surface......pfffffffffffttt (exhales) Can you imagine dude?" Webster is enjoying this story now and asks. “And you still wanted to surf big waves after that.....?” The teenager answers with no hesitation. "Ja, for sure, but I haven’t had my wipe out yet. I haven’t had the ‘life changer.' I hope I don’t have it anytime soon.” (Laughs halfheartedly) Neil is onto his last question now and is looking like he might mention his shredded lawn. “Any parting words of wisdom?” He asks, shooting a glance at the kids shoes. “One of the older guys has told me a million times, that one wave can change everything for you! If you get that wave on video or even just for yourself, the achievement of getting that 1 massive wave can put you, anywhere......’

  • Fabian-piece1
  • Fabian
  • Fabian2
  • Fabian3
  • Fabian4

No Comments Yet.

Leave a comment