Gabriel Medina is one the savviest competitive surfers on Earth. Hell, he might be the most savvy. He surfs to win, which, in a contest setting, is a good thing. Gabriel Medina recently made what he hopes is a savvy pick, hiring Andy King as his new coach.
Ever since Medina first began seriously competing, his step dad Charlie Rodrigues has been the one wearing the coaching hat. Charlie was famously loud, furiously passionate, and likely instilled that take-no-prisoners attitude in the two-time world champion. Charlie and Gabriel celebrated together and cried together over the years, and many of those years were a little controversial. Take, for example, the time Charlie was banned from WSL events for a few months.
The reason for the ban has never been made entirely clear, but rumor has it that ol’ Chuck was a trifle upset at the judges in Portugal and had a few choice words for them. They did not take kindly to whatever was said, and a few months after the fact, word came down from the WSL that whatever it was that went down wouldn’t be tolerated. It was all very exciting.
But despite all the drama, all the yelling and crying and hands-in-the-air freak outs, the partnership between Charlie and Gabriel was a wildly successful one. Two world titles and a slew of other awards can attest to that. It was more than just a coach/athlete relationship — Charlie took on the role of hype man, caddy, and father. All good things must come to an end, though, and over the last few years, the relationship appeared to have soured slightly.
After more than a decade of traveling with Charlie, Medina is now a full-grown man. He has been for a long time, but now he’s walking a more independent path. Charlie’s out, Andy King is in, according to several different reports.
Andy King, as you may know, is the coach who took Mick Fanning to the top of the world podium two times. Red Bull enlisted him to develop their athlete training programs, and if the results are any indicator of his methods, his methods are good. Red Bull athletes include Kanoa Igarashi, Carissa Moore, Jordy Smith, Kolohe Andino, Michel Bourez, and many more.
After Red Bull, King moved on to become the national coach for Surfing Australia based at the Hurley High Performance Center, then stepped into the coaching shoes for Julian Wilson and Keely Andrew, among others. Long story short: King has a solid surf-coaching resume.
Although King does indeed have a competitive strategy, he’s known for encouraging his surfers to trust their instincts. And if there’s one thing Medina has when it comes to contest strategy, it’s good instincts. Only time will tell what their partnership will achieve, but it’s likely that it’s a pairing that has every other surfer on tour a little nervous.