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Surf Shacks 015 – Justin Quintal

Justin Quintal is how we say “living the dream” or staying “forever young”, take your pick. Nestled away down south in a lil slice of heaven called Jacksonville, Florida, Justin enjoys the simple life far from the hustle & bustle of the surf industry and trendy SoCal scene. When he does swoop into said scene, he keeps it real by driving his van across the country to win not one, but two consecutive Duct Tape Invitational contests at the US Open, then drives back to Florida with souvenir trophies and heat jerseys in hand.

A man who does not discriminate between board shapes, designs and eras, Justin represents the modern, well-rounded, soul surfer of our time. We recently sent our buddy Drew Miller over to hang with Justin and his lady for a day, snapping good old 35mm film photos of the two in their local North Florida habitat.

Who are you?

I’m Justin Quintal. 25, based out of Florida, simply livin’.

What do you do for a living?

For about the past year it has been surfing and working closely with my shaper Ricky Carroll, helping him design and market boards. My sponsor, Flomotion, has their headquarters in Jacksonville so I’m constantly trying to work with them and team manager/photographer Gunner Hughes.

Where are you from?

I consider Jacksonville Florida home, but I was born in Cape Canaveral.

Where and when did you learn to surf?

When I was about 2 or 3, down in Satellite beach. My parents said I always used to be a little cry baby, but the only place I was happy was at the beach playing in the water. My dad is a surfer and he used to just take me out in the water and push me into waves, that’s how I got started.

How long have you lived in your current home in Jacksonville?

2 years.

What is your local break down there?

There’s a pier a few blocks up from my house that I surf a lot. Besides that a few spots in-between here and Georgia that are a little less developed.

Tell us about North Florida and the area you live in.

It’s absolutely beautiful. It’s a huge city, area-wise, so there’s a lot to offer. The city itself is relatively small compared to how much land there is in Jax. The downtown is fun, always lots of good music with fun venues, killer restaurants and bars. The river runs right through downtown and when all the buildings, fountains and bridges are lit up it’s really one-of-a-kind. The beaches are about 25 min from downtown and have a cool scene. More good restaurants, fun bars, music venues. Everywhere else in between is pretty undeveloped. There’s an amazing intracoastal waterway system that has some of the best fishing in the world, backed up with beautiful plants and animals everywhere. Great hunting, hiking, canoeing, bird watching. There are spots you can drive (if you have 4×4) on the beach with fun waves and epic fishing.

The best way to sum it up is: on a good day I have gotten barreled all morning, drove to one of my little secret spots, probably logged for a little bit. When the tide backs out I throw my cast net, catch some bait, cast that out and catch dinner. Maybe pop open a bottle of wine on the beach and share it with my girlfriend as I watch the sunset over the river and watch bald eagles, hawks, and countless ospreys fly over head.

What are some of your favorite things to do around there besides surf?

Fishing for sure. Yoga. Lately I’ve been trying to focus on art, I took some advanced art courses when I was a kid but haven’t really re-focused on that since my teens. Maybe catch a show or go to a music festival if I have the time and money.

Any go-to grub spots or watering holes?

Shim Sham is one spot I like to grab a drink. They have this thing called a “red dawn”, the bartender won’t make it for me half the time because he says it’s a girls drink. Basically it’s a Moscow mule with a fresh black berry muddled in it. The most delicious thing you ever had after a long day on the beach. For food, this little organic spot called Delicomb for breaky or lunch. Fancy Sushi, Taco Lu, or Mellow Mushroom for dinner.

That’s a sweet van you have there. How much time do you spend in it on the road?

Basically if I’m not flying somewhere, chances are I’m driving my van and probably sleeping in it. Over the summer I drove it to California and back, I lived out of it for about 2 months.

What have been some of your best adventures in it?

California was great. My girlfriend and I also had an amazing time at the Wanee Music fest last year. You basically camp in the woods and there’s non stop concerts for 3 or 4 days. We saw the Allman Brothers, Lynard Skynard, and a bunch of other legendary bands. The Suwannee River cuts through the camp grounds, so you bathe in there. It’s super cool, pretty magical time.

Where are your favorite places to surf – locally and globally?

Locally, those spots I was talking about in-between Jacksonville and Georgia. Globally in a way it’s my favorite, but it feels weird to say it as we’re still getting acquainted, but Pipe. I really want to learn how to surf that wave well. Backdoor and off the wall too, but Pipe is just so classic and such a beautiful phenomena.

What is your magic board these days?

All of them. I have a collection of about 30-40 boards (I don’t know the exact amount). About a third of my boards are from Ricky Carroll, then about a third are boards from the 60s / 70s, then a third are random boards from my friends – like I have a couple rad ones from Peninsula Holding Company for instance. I try to just learn to surf each board the right way, or the way they work best. It’s all about how to make every board a magic board for the right conditions in my opinion.

How often are you surfing competitively?

Maybe around 4-5 times a year. I usually do the Duct Tape events and a bunch of east coast events, like the Ron Jon Easter Fest, ECSC and the Steel Pier Classic. Contents are less about the competition part for me though, they all feel like going on little surf trips. It’s rad how the contests bring all these different guys together from different regions. It’s also nice to be able to make a paycheck out of surfing with a tight group of friends at these events.

What happened in China? How did you get that gnarly infection?

My fin cut me on my right leg. It wasn’t huge but it split it, so it was kind of deep. Sometime during the trip some dirty water got in there and went to town. I got some weird strain of strep that’s in the form of a flesh-eating bacteria.

What was it like to win the Duct Tape Invitational 2 years in a row?

It’s a pretty amazing and surreal feeling. The stuff Joel, Vans, fellow surfers, and everyone involved has done for traditional surfing through the DTI is pretty awesome. It feels good to be a part of that movement. The whole concept of winning is a little weird though. I respect all the guys (and girls) in that event so much that even if I win, I don’t feel like I’ve “beat” them. Also when you win, (not necessarily at those events but comps in general) usually someone gets bummed. You’re stoked you won but everyone always has something to say. I feel more like a winner when I make a big barrel or a drop I didn’t think I was going to, get a crazy noseride, or take a new line on a wave. Surfing to any kind of criteria, even a loose one gives you bounds and sets your mind. To surf your mind body and soul need to be free, which I find my self trying to focus more on. I can do contests and I can do them well, but there’s much more to surfing.

Any big upcoming trips planned?

I’ve got a special spot in the Carribean I really want to go to in April if I can scratch up the funds to do so.

/ Photography by Drew Miller
/ Interview by Matt Titone

Check out more Surf Shacks here.

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