"Retaking the Crown": Griffin Colapinto Talks Move To Quiksilver

In 2013, I was sitting at a restaurant in San Clemente with a group of surf writers and photographers when I noticed an empty chair at the end of the table. Griffin Colapinto, who had recently signed with Billabong, soon joined us.


Sitting at the lunch table, it was impossible to imagine the success this curly-haired and quiet California native would have over the next decade with a Billabong sticker on his board: becoming the first Californian to win the prestigious Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, qualifying for the World Surf League Championship Tour, and, this year, winning the MEO Pro Portugal and the Surf City El Salvador Pro.


A few weeks ago, Griffin verified the rumor that he was leaving Billabong, his sponsor for more than a decade, for Quiksilver. Just like in 2013, it's impossible to imagine the success he will have over the next decade with a Quiksilver logo on his board. But, as we found out, the expectations he has for himself are higher than his high-scoring airs.


We spoke to Griffin about why the sponsor change was the "toughest decision" he's ever made, how he wants to help Quiksilver retake "the crown" as the best surf brand in the industry, and the goals he's putting on paper for 2023. — Cash Lambert


Photo courtesy Quiksilver

Q. Let’s get right to it — Why did you leave Billabong for Quiksilver? Why now?


Very direct, I like it. Well, honestly, leaving Billabong has been one of the toughest decisions I have made in my life up to this point. We had been talking to Billabong for more than a few months, and they did offer me a great opportunity to remain with the brand. Along with that, there was interest from a couple other brands, and at this point in my career, and this being the most important deal I will ever sign, I wanted to see what kind of opportunities were out there. In looking closer at the options, it narrowed down at the end to Quiksilver conversations, and the fact that they were coming to me in a time of reset just moving back to the USA from France, and with the team in place, and the heritage of the brand, it excited me to think I could help play a part to retake their crown as the best surf brand in the industry like it was when I was a kid. I have never had signature apparel before either, and that is something that Quiksilver is wanting to work on with me. I know it’s floating out there too, and I will admit that Quiksilver’s openness to other potential branding on the hat was also something on offer. So, in the end, yeah, those were the major factors in me making the decision to leave my family and close friends that I have spent more than half my life with at Billabong.


Q. Billabong has been a part of your career for more than a decade. Any nostalgia? What are some of your favorite memories from that time with Billabong?


I mean, pretty much all I can really remember in life up to this point has been thanks to the folks at Billabong. The trips, the house on Oahu, the time under tents at Nationals, and US Champs. The parties they threw for not just me, but all the other team riders for different comp wins etc. Bloodlines really was life-changing for my development as a surfer being exposed to those waves at such a young age, and just the whole experience and the friends that I made is something I will never forget. Some of my best friends in the world still ride for them, and work there. I am just sort of coming down off the high from the announcement, and had a bit of time to think more about it all. I regret some of what I said in interviews and posts over the past week for not sounding grateful. It’s been a whirlwind of emotions, and challenging for me as a natural competitor to process it all, but I’m waking up every morning now with gratitude for the friends that became like family to me and helped form who I am today. I also appreciate the opportunity I’m being given having a completely blank canvas with more goals to achieve, more fun to have, and more close friends to make all sitting right ahead of me.


Photo courtesy Quiksilver

Q. What do you think are some advantages of riding for Quiksilver? What are you excited about?


I mentioned it before, but the advantages I see lie in the opportunity. I feel like it’s the perfect time to be at Quiksilver during this reset, and play my part in bringing the team together however I can. I want to do film projects with Mikey, Kael, Rolo, Mateus, Al and Jackson. I am excited about being able to spend more time laughing with Dunphy, and I look forward to hopefully getting some time to surf and learn from Jeremy and Tom Carroll.


One of the major advantages and something that excites the hell out of me is that I get to work closely with Nat Johnsen. The guy is a humble guru, but responsible for helping build up the profiles of some of my heroes in the past. It’s really comforting to know he is at the wheel with the work he has done, and even from the first time we met I got a feeling that he truly is there to help bring out the real me, however weird I might be. So, he is working with me now on clothing, wetsuits, content ideas, even down to the red box sticker that I told him really wanted to see brought back. It’s all new experiences for me to be so involved in the process, and I’ve been having so much fun with it all. I’m really excited about the journey we are going to be taking together.


Photo courtesy Quiksilver

Q. You had an incredible year — winning the 2022 MEO Pro Portugal, winning the Surf City El Salvador, and many more highlights — any thoughts on the results from the competitive year? What are you proud of?


In the beginning of each year I sit down and write down my goals for the year to come, and at the top of my list for 2022 was winning 2 WCT events, so I was pretty happy and proud to be able to cross that off the list. There were also some tough events and times along the way, and obviously being knocked out of the top 5 was tough, but it’s all learning, and I’m already putting my 2023 goals on paper.


Q. Looking forward, what are you currently working on with your surfing? Anything you’re refining?


I’ve been spending a lot of time since the end of the season working on my physical strength. Especially going into the Hawaii season, it just brings me that much more confidence in the water. It’s been super fun being home too to train with the SC boys. Lots of heats, training, swimming, saunas and ice baths, and just being a sparring partner for them is super fun for me, but also is hard work. You start slipping even a little bit and the boys will be all over you.


Photo courtesy Quiksilver


Q. The 2024 Olympics — any thoughts on you potentially representing the red, white and blue?


That’s the plan. The top of my goals list for 2023 right next to the world title is to qualify for the Olympics for the USA.


Q. What are your plans for the rest of 2022? Can we expect to see you on the North Shore?


I am taking off to Santa Cruz today to go compete in the QS event up there with my brother and all the SC crew before I head to Hawaii to surf in the Haleiwa event and hang there pretty much until March. We should be premiering Trilogy 22 in early January, so I’m super excited about that finally coming out.