Pro Spotlight: Sebastian Zietz

Happy Place
From Andy to Aunties, Sebastian Zietz Channels Hometown Mana to Become Kauai’s Next Superhero
By Matt Pruett

Sebastian Zietz can afford to be a little smug right now. He’s just dodged a bullet. Well, not a bullet exactly, but certainly a ticket or three.

Leaving a Kauai secret spot, “Seabass” gets pulled over by Kauai police for failure to wear a seatbelt. A hulky mass of tattoos, muscle, and badge requests the standard license and registration, and the 24-year-old explains that he left his registration at home, he can’t find his insurance card, and he’s never had a license in eight years of driving on the island. “I travel a lot for contests and just never got around to getting it.” Seabass is apologetic, respectful and honest, but doesn’t sweat a thing. Thus, neither does his interrogator.

After bringing another officer on the scene and running a background check, the cop writes Seabass a ticket but holds onto it, promising to issue an affidavit dismissing all charges once the surfer provides proof he’s gotten legal. “You really gotta do this, brah. Good luck in South Africa.” In most mainland beach towns, this kid would’ve been hauled into a jail cell with only his soaking boardshorts to keep him warm faster than you could say, “Brah, wot?” A couple shakas later, Seabass is free as a breeze.

Afterward, he stops by the DMV as promised. But he’s forgotten his ID, so he can’t go in. That evening, we return to his car after surfing to find his doors unlocked, his windows down, and his ATM card in plain sight next to a wad of cash (Benjamin on the outside—total rookie maneuver in the street-smarts department).

Seabass is not a flake. It’s just that all these trivial conventions—driver’s licenses, bank accounts—don’t always factor into the wholesome trinity that fuels the 24-year-old’s spirit: Family. Surfing. Travel. Everything else is bullshit. “Sebastian is the least bummed person ever,” asserts older brother/ sparring partner Billy Zietz, who became Seabass’ official manager last October once a booking biff caused him to miss the Azores Prime. “He doesn’t care about fame or where surfing’s gonna take him. He just wants to have a good time. It’s hard getting him into a competitive mindset to beat people because it’s so unnatural for him. But at the same time, he has no nerves because he’s so laid-back and appreciates the simple things.”

That’s a virtue. Coveting isn’t. Ultimately, the things we keep are never the things we hold in our hands: Love. Wisdom. Faith. Once we liberate ourselves with that concept (usually through losing a bunch of stuff or never having much to begin with), we’re free to focus our life’s work toward what truly matters. Only then does our world become divinely uncomplicated. Calling Seabass simple is like calling astrophysics complex, but life wasn’t always easy. In fact, while he might indeed be Kauai’s answer to the ASP World Tour’s post-Irons incarnation, Seabass was denied his destiny—twice—before he even got started.

Contrary to rumor, Sebastian Zietz wasn’t born in a boat, or a bathtub, or some hippie tent. He was born at home on February 6, 1988, one of nine children: half brothers Josh, Max, and Billy; older brother Dusty; older sister Hailey; and younger sisters Sandy, Sarah Jane, and Ginger. There are nine grandchildren. And not an unattractive Zietz in the tree. The story goes like this: Their patriarch, Paul Zietz, was captaining his brother’s 103-foot schooner in Key West, Florida, when 19-year-old Joanne, vacationing from Maine via Virginia Beach, sat down next to the dock—clearly enamored with the 33-year-old’s lean physique, gorgeous yacht, and three adorable sons. Like the Brady Bunch on barnacles, the quintet sailed up to Rhode Island together, conceiving two children before Paul and Joanne married two days prior to Dusty’s birth.