On Surfing

Justin Quintal

Illustration by Matt Titone

Justin Quintal, known as Quinny or Justeeeeeeeeen to some, is a young pro surfer, born and raised for the most part in Florida, calling Jacksonville home the majority of his life. Quintal is the newest addition to the Vans Surf team and the head of Black Rose Manufacturing, a small, intimate board building brand headed up with his long-time shaper turned family member Ricky Carroll. Quintal lives in Jacksonville Beach, travels frequently, and like most of us Floridians enjoys a good cocktail, time spent outside, his dog, and knows how to tell a joke very, very well. Beyond that, Quintal is a southern guy, quick to hold a door or help you up. He’s often remarked as the first one in and last one out in the water, even in the most severe of conditions. He’s spent the past year traveling more than he might have in the previous five years combined, and much of his travels have been to lesser known, out of the way spots, often clad in thick rubber. Keep an eye on this upstart.

Can you describe one of the most challenging aspects of surfing to you?

Patience. Being Patient in the water, and when the waves are flat out of the water. Waiting for the right wave, being patient with other surfers in the water. Surfing is one big waiting game. I start to lose it when I haven’t surfed good waves for a while. Learning how to cope with that has been one of the most difficult aspects of surfing to me. Being on it at the right moments, and not over analyzing things too much. Trying to avoid paralysis by analysis, which I think is easy to do with most aspects of surfing. Putting the phone down and getting in the water. Everyone expects you to be available all the time these days. Technology is great but it can be overwhelming sometimes. I’ve found myself having to remember to just put the phone down and go surf and realize the world’s not going to end if I am in the water for a couple or few hours.

What is one of the most redemptive or rewarding parts of surfing?

The most redemptive feeling is when you chase a swell, and it actually pays off and the waves are pumping. The most rewarding parts are the rare moments that happen when you are in the water, also traveling to and from waves. That “only a surfer knows the feeling”, and “it’s not the destination it’s the journey” bullshit. It’s so cliché, but so true. Things happen in the water and on the road that are just so raw and beautiful. Ultimately though, getting a good wave or sharing the stoke and teaching somebody how to surf who really needs it—those are two of the most rewarding parts of surfing.

What has surfing afforded you in your life?

I think surfing has afforded me happiness. It’s given me purpose in life, and a foundation, I think that’s invaluable.

How long can you go without surfing?

Not very long. It’s sad, but I am essentially a functioning surfaholic. I can technically go without surfing for a while, but I get very anxious and irritable. It also starts to become all I can think about, and completely consumes me. I’ve gotten better about it as I’ve become older, but I still can’t completely control it. Comparable to surfing though, I like sight fishing, the moment when the fish looks at your lure, takes your bait and you hook it. Good live music. Skateboarding in certain regards. Anything that makes your skin crawl and gets your blood pumping.

How and when did you fall in love with surfing?

As long as I can remember I have loved surfing. My dad got me into surfing when I was very young, my earliest memories are surfing and being in the ocean. I fell in love with it on my first wave, the first moment I realized what surfing was. I think I have only recently really started to appreciate all elements of surfing. It has been a process learning to enjoy the uncomfortable parts of surfing. I used to hate surfing when it was too cold, or windy or even too hot or what ever. Now I try to respect that surfing is kind of this primal thing that throws you into these elements and situations that you normally wouldn’t put yourself in, and that there is something very special about that. I think that has been a lifelong process, slowly conditioning yourself to be comfortable in the water.

What’s one of your pre/post-surf rituals you hold dear?

Water, Coffee, Yoga, and good music. I also almost always try to dive under water and get my head/hair wet right when I paddle out. It is one of the most rejuvenating feelings and helps your body adjust to the temperature of the water a lot quicker, and I think makes the entire experience more enjoyable.

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On Surfing is generously supported by our friends at McTavish

Michael Adno

Michael is a writer and photographer born in Florida as a first-generation American to Austrian and South African parents. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Bitter Southerner, and The Surfer’s Journal among other magazines.

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