Log Chats Vol.4 | Justin Quintal

Photo: Adam King 

Justin Quintal is
probably the best longboarder in the world. 

Whether he’s displaying his quick-footed mastery along the pylons of his beloved Jax pier or
steering big boards through waves at Pipe/Backdoor Justin has spent the past 15 years cementing himself as one of the most accomplished longboarders on the planet. Not only did he snag his Maiden world title in 2019, but he just won his 10th Duct Tape, which is far and away the record for the most victories in what could very well be the longboarding community’s most respected accolade.
On the back of this triumph we decided to ring Justin for the latest edition of Log Chats. Making time amongst his highly enviable surfing/fishing schedule we talked through his latest victory, frontside vs. backside noseriding and perhaps most importantly: how to win heats after a night of tequila in Sayulita.

You just won your 10th Duct Tape on the event’s 10-year anniversary. Do you have some weird voodoo shit going on with the number 10 you’d like to share with us? 

(Laughs) I honestly didn’t put two and two together until Mikel Urigoitia from the Basque Country called the results and mentioned that it was the 10 year anniversary and that I had won my 10th Duct Tape. Being a small tricky right I didn’t know what to expect and didn’t necessarily have high expectations for myself. I even brought my fishing pole in case the waves didn’t cooperate, and because I’d heard the fishing was good in the area. Surprisingly I won, but didn’t catch any fish haha. No Voodoo shit. 

How did it feel to be back at a DTI after a couple years of a COVID break?
It was awesome. Coming back makes you reflect on all of the amazing times that have been had over the years at these events. I did my first Duct Tape when I was 19 at ECSC in Virginia Beach and I knew that these events were going to be significant. I got to meet so many amazing people that I looked up to as a kid, from Joel/CJ Nelson to Alex Knost, the list goes on. Now fast forward and I’m 32 years old and we’ve traveled the world together doing what we love. The Duct Tapes feel like a family in a way and we can not see each other for a couple years and pick up right where we left off. 
Most loggers prefer going frontside. The comp ran in small, running rights yet two goofys managed to take out the win. Was that surprising to you?
I was watching the wave the whole time wishing it was a left, imagining how fun it would be to surf frontside. I definitely prefer to go left, but a clean-lined up right is fun as shit too. Leading up to this contest I spent a lot of time surfing at home in Florida. We mostly had multiple small south swells leading up to the event, this time of year that can turn the north side of the JAX Beach pier into a little faux right point. Before heading to Sayulita some friends that had previously visited said it wasn’t necessarily the best wave in the area. I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived at how fun the wave was, and on some of the better days thought it slightly resembled a short inside section at Malibu.  

Unsurprisingly you mentioned you prefer to go frontside. Any tips for backside nose riding? 

When it comes to noseriding in the critical part of the wave where you’re toying with the pocket backside noseriding can be difficult, especially when you’re going from slower sections to faster sections and vice versa. In some of the clips you’ll see I’m dragging my hand behind me for stability, kind of like what you’d see when someone stalls for the tube going frontside. It’s a bit counterintuitive but I’ve found that allows me to lean a little more into the wave and it helps me engage my fin and hold through a section as opposed to a more light-footed approach.   

Photo: Log Rap

The DTI prides itself on an inclusive invitee list. Who impressed you this year? 

The talent level has elevated in recent years and there are so many great longboarders coming up now. The local talent was incredibly impressive, led by Johnathan “Gordo Surf” Melendres who wound up winning the Mexi Log Fest. Miguel Sinclair was surfing really well too. There’s a young Brazilian named Yam that was in the Mexilog Fest and hanging around during the Duct Tape that was really impressive. Jules’ (Lepecheux) was surfing very solid, he’s always been stylish but he was throwing his board around (and spray) and locking into some nice noserides. Kelis impressed me a ton as well. She’s always been good but it seems like she has really come into her own. Like Jules she was also surfing very solid and mixing up her natural and switch stance incredibly fluidly. Don’t know if having time at home helped but it seems as if everyone’s surfing really good post-COVID.

This comp in particular has a reputation for soaking up a fair share of the Sayulita tequila supply, Any tips for surfing hungover?

I definitely drank my fair share of tequila. It got to the point where I thought if I drink anymore it might kill me… but if I stop drinking it also might kill me (laughs). If you’re partying at these events it’s something you’ve gotta kind of embrace. It’s a marathon. The mornings of the contest my routine was an espresso, a croissant and a coca-cola. I don’t drink a lot of soda normally but that’s my secret… a coca cola sugar rush can get you through a bad hangover, at least momentarily. 

Photo: Log Rap

You’ve won a world title. Obviously a lot has changed in the scope of competitive longboarding over the past couple months. What’s your breakdown of the current state of the Longboard Tour? 

First off I think we all owe Joel yet another thank you for raising awareness for some of the issues going on with the tour. At the very least it’s opened up a discussion with the people at the WSL about what a proper longboard tour needs to look like. 
I think the WSL could have done a better job of listening to the feedback of the surfers this year and that what’s currently presented isn't what an ideal longboard tour looks like. It would be nice to have a year with 4 or 5 stops with waves well suited for the surfing they’re promoting. In my opinion, a beach break, an A-frame, a left and right pointbreak/reef and maybe even a barrel would allow for whoever wins the tour to be the most well-rounded surfer. Increased prize money would obviously be nice too… It would be great to have time to prepare your equipment, body and mind for a tour rather than being given a month to get your plans together. As someone who has done the WSL tour to try and push it to the point I’m speaking of it’s upsetting that it hasn’t happened over the past 5+ years. 
The people that own the WSL have good intentions but not everyone making the calls has the vision to make it what it needs to be. When they restructured the WSL from the ASP they built it from the top-down as opposed to the bottom-up. With surfing being such a core cultural environment, especially with the highly nuanced nature of traditional longboarding, you really need the surfers’ voices to produce the best possible product.

What was your reasoning behind for skipping the Sydney World Longboard Tour event?

There were a few reasons for skipping Manly, travel restrictions/quarantine being one of them. But I also felt like the tour presented this year was an after thought and rushed. Longboarding definitely did not feel like a priority. Given more time to prepare for the first event and with a better plan presented for the future of longbording in the WSL and I probably would have gone.  

Obviously this year Vans is partnering with the WSL to make the DTI at the US Open a tour stop. If Vans did a full-scale DTI world tour how do you feel that would be received by surfers?

The Duct Tape is very different than the WSL tour. Obviously the WSL has tried to model the criteria for the tour around the surfing that takes place in the Duct Tapes. Ultimately I feel the traditional elements of longboarding are what defines longboarding and that’s what people want to see. I think the two being separate is cool. I like that there’s that balance between a competitive circuit as compared to a more informal, exhibition-based platform. There should definitely be a more clear way to qualify for the tour for would be competitors… but the Duct Tape is amazing because it can include whoever’s hot at the moment and helps expose new talent. Coupling the two in a long-term sense may not necessarily be the best but it is cool that they’ll be collaborating on an event this year. I’m sure if there was a Duct Tape world tour people would get excited and get behind it.

You’re one of the most successful longboarders in the world but you also rip on a shortboard. Do you feel like doing both is an important factor for more longboard guys/girls finding success? 

I do feel shortboarding helps my longboarding.  At the end of the day surfing’s an individual thing and people should do whatever they want. There’s a bunch of kids that surf San O every day and love it and kill it, then there are people that ride shortboards that can’t really ride anything else. I think the best surfers overall can ride anything and there is cross over there. Riding different boards in different waves is just what makes surfing fun to me, it’s all part of the trip. 

Photo: Ryan Craig

Any plans for the summer?

I’ll be doing a couple of trips with Vans for an upcoming film project I’m excited about. I’ll be waiting to see what happens with all these contests. I’ll for sure be at the US Open and Malibu going for another World Title. In the fall I like to chase hurricanes and focus on those swells, then trying to fish as much as I can too!

Thank you to Justin for making the time and stay tuned as he makes a run for his second world title this summer.