Caio Ibelli is one of the worlds most loved surfers. And it’s easy to see how he’s accumulated fans from all over the world. He’s always smiling, always has a positive attitude to life… and is always consistently performing among the world’s best surfers around the world.
Caio’s hometown in Brazil is Sao Paulo. Guaruja to be more precise, with the broader Sao Paulo area responsible for nurturing some of the most exciting Brazilian talent, including Gabriel Medina (who Caio famously tussled with in Portugal and Pipeline), Filipe Toledo and Miguel Pupo. That close-knit competitive community is what drove Caio’s passion for success and saw him completely dominate the 2015 WSL Qualifying Series and bag rookie of the year in his debut Championship Tour in 2016. In the years since, Caio has maintained a top 20 position among the elite tour and started the 2021 Championship Tour with a solid result at the Billabong Pipeline Masters, finishing equal 9th.
But there’s more to Caio than just competing. He’s a family man, has a couple of burger joints in Brazil (check out Ibelli Burgers) and turns out, is a pretty good shaper too.
What started as in injury-induced time killer, ended up in a softboard model with his accessories sponsor, RYD.
Caio explains. “After getting injured in April 2018 at the 3rd stop of the world tour, I flew back to California to get surgery. I knew I was going to be out of the water for at least 4 months, so I started thinking what I could do to kill time in a productive way. So, I thought about shaping and glassing my first board. I thought it would be a very special feeling to ride something I’ve shaped when I could surf again. So, my very first wave I had after surgery was on the board at the Surf Ranch, before the event started.”
And so, how did it go? “It rode amazing! It had good drive, release and was super-fast. That very first hand-shaped board had a little rounded nose so when @Rumaner.surfboards (shaper in SoCal that helped me thru the whole process) scanned the board to the computer, we made it into a really nice high performance nose. “It’s been my favourite twin fin ever since!”
Well in that case, you might need to tell us a little more about the design!
“It’s a twin fin that I like to ride 7 inches smaller. It’s a very versatile board that I could ride in anything from 1ft to 6ft Backdoor on!” Um, hold up a minute… 6ft Backdoor on a twinnie? “The reason I can ride it in such a big range of conditions is due to the double concave (under the back foot) to single concave (under the front foot) and the very special wing in the tail. It helps make the perfect transition to the narrow swallow tail, adding drive and better precision in the turns, and it’s good for barrel riding. I wanted to have one board that I could ride in any condition, and it translated really well into exactly that for me!”
From there the hard-charging Brazilian sent the design file to the RYD design team, who scanned the board template in, concaves and all, and produced the RYD Ibelli ‘First Time’ (reference to the first board he shaped) performance soft-top. And turns out he was pretty happy with the outcome!
“I was shocked with the final product! It has perfect rails and a very stiff epoxy core blank. It was a very different experience to what I have ever had with softboards, which are usually too floppy and not really a board to rip on. It’s the best performance softboard I’ve ever ridden!”
Sounds good Caio, especially as you weren’t paid to say that! But in all seriousness, what makes it so special?
“The board has more volume under the chest for a better paddle and entry, but what you can tell straight away, is the speed and drive the board has. A lot of the time with twin fins, you have to ease through the turns. But because of the narrow tail, the wing and the fin placement — you can really go for it without a doubt. Just forget you are on a softboard and go big!”
So, what conditions could us mere mortals give the First Time a run in?
“I had a chance to test the board so many different conditions! I loved riding it in small air sections, because it’s so fast… and big barrels. The board can handle all kind of conditions, it’s pretty amazing!”
As if Caio need another reason to smile…
Check out the First Time Softboard here. It’ll probably make you smile too.