After 14 events over the course of nearly a decade, Joel Tudor’s traveling circus—better known as The Vans Duct Tape Invitational—has grown to include a festival of art, music, board shaping, and other surf-adjacent cultural happenings, all while consistently adding new blood to its international crop of logging devotees competing in the the main event—the classic longboarding contest.
Held in pumping surf in Zarautz, Spanish Basque Country, the most recent Duct Tape was, according to papa Tudor, perhaps the best, yet. Aside from the seemingly disproportionate amount of Floridians on-hand for the sideshow—including surf-media invitees such as Sarasota-native and Stab Magazine editor Ashton Goggans, St. Augustine native and photographer Jimmy “Jimmicane” Wilson, photographer and Melbourne native Brandon “Laser Wolf” Campbell, and myself—Sunshine Staters made up precisely one-eighth of the exclusive roster of invitees competing in the 16-man contest, itself.
With pumping, overhead swell in the water for the final day of action, 17-year old Flagler Beach local Saxon Wilson showed poise, composure, and effortless style in the heaving Basque surf, but was unable to advance into the semifinals. Meanwhile seven-time Duct Tape winner, Jacksonville’s Justin Quintal caught some of the best waves of the entire event, perching for long nose rides and throwing clinical drop-knee bottom turns in what was a hotly contested semifinal. Quintal was edged out only by perennial invitee and style-master Alex Knost and eventual winner, Andy Nieblas—the SanO wunderkind needing every tenth of a point he may have earned for sticking mental fin-first helicopter takeoffs and switch stance redirects to take out Quintal, who is the favorite in virtually every heat for which he paddles out.
Nonetheless, our Florida boys did us proud, representing the former Spanish colony with style and class in the Basque Country. So let’s be sure and give them a heroes welcome when they return—for Quintal that may mean a beer, but for young Wilson, perhaps a mocktail? Congrats, fellas.