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Ranked number one in the world, rolling in the yellow leaders jersey as the WSL Championship Tour heads for Australia, Griffin Colapinto and his brother, Crosby, have given American surf fans much to cheer about lately. And while the life of globe-trotting, title chasing surf stars is a glorious thing, and the Colapinto boys are having the time of their lives, it’s how they’re embracing it that all speaks volumes about who they are.

The son of an elementary school teacher in San Clemente, California, one of the first things Colapinto did when he got home from his recent foray in Europe was head to his alma mater, Shorecliffs Middle School, to celebrate his win at the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal. Or maybe it was the other way around. The Shorecliffs Seahawks just claimed a record-setting 18th NSSA California State title just a couple weeks back. Either way, the Colapinto boys are making it a habit of giving back to the local youth. They also stopped by the school to fire up the students before the start of the 2024 Championship Tour.

And that’s the thing about Griff, in a world where everybody wants something, he gives back. He puts the time in to not only show up, but as he likes to say, “be present.” Last year, at the WSL Finals in his backyard at Lowers, as the number three rated surfer and the hometown hero, the pressure could have eaten him alive, but it didn’t because, at heart, he’s a man of the people.

“There was so much hype before the event, people were making these crazy videos, doing these events, just plastering San Clemente. It was pretty nuts, but I feel like really enjoyed it and I was able to take it all in,” Colapinto explained in an interview back in January. “I wanted to be present for all those people that supported me and really thankful to them. I just wanted to have fun with it and not let it stress me out. I feel like I still performed in my heat and Ethan [Ewing] just out did me. That’s part of the game sometimes, so it’s all good.”

And therein lies a lesson we could all take from Griff: sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but if you trust the process and put your heart into it, something meaningful always comes from the experience. Of course, easier said than done when you’re gunning for your first world title in front of all your friends and family—which is exactly why Colapinto spends so much time on keeping his head in the right space. From attending meditation retreats in the offseason, to journaling, to a myriad of techniques he’s taught himself, at only 25 years young he’s already learned that a sound mind and sound body lead to competitive success.

“I think the mental side of all of this is super crucial. In surfing there’s so much out of your control with the ocean, the elements and competitors. You have to be in such a flow state. Meditating, obviously, that’s where you can find that flow state consistently,” Colapinto explained.

Taking things one heat at a time, as the pro surfing cliche goes, up next, Colapinto will head into the prestigious Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach event, the longest running contest on tour today, as the number one seed. The wave at Bells suits his attacking combination of turns and airs perfectly. Last year he made the quarterfinals there for his best career result. On an upward trajectory at the moment, you gotta love his chances down in Torquay.