The re-imagined Australian leg of the Championship Tour may have presented a series of obstacles for the world's best surfers. They've all been forced to make adaptations of one kind or another. For two-time World Champion Gabriel Medina that means traveling and competing without his long-time coach Charlie for the first extended time in his career.
Since Gabriel first traveled overseas to France to compete as a 14-year-old, Charlie has been by his side. It's a role that included fatherly advice, technical coaching, equipment choice, heat strategist, general hype man and so much more.
The relationship has been incredibly successful with Gabriel winning two World Titles and 14 CT events under the stewardship of Charlie. It's also not been without its controversies. In 2017, Charlie was banned from the Surfers' Areas during the Australian leg following an incident involving WSL officials in Portugal the season prior.
Now 27 and married to Brazilian model and actress Yasmin Brunet who traveled to Australia with him, Gabriel is forging a new, more independent life, and this includes enlisting Andy King as his coach for the first few events.
King, who as also been seen advising Seth Moniz in Newcastle, most famously mentored Mick Fanning through two World Titles and then spent seven years with Red Bull, developing their elite athlete training programs.
He then took on the role of national coach for Surfing Australia based at the Hurley High Performance Centre near the Gold Coast. After leaving Surfing Australia, King has coached Julian Wilson, Keely Andrew and a crop of Australia's best young surfers.
Surf journalist Nick Carroll recently described King's coaching style as "one of passion, commitment, and attention to the detail of a heat; he is inclined to encourage a great surfer to trust his gut, but if he thinks a surfer isn't giving it everything, he won't hold back."
After 10 successful years with Charlie in his corner, Gabriel will need to adjust to a new way of approaching his heats and the events. Of course, it is Gabriel himself that has manufactured his intense competitive edge, and with a decade of CT experience, King won't want to mess with what has been an incredibly successful formula.
However, having a fresh set of eyes and ears on his surfing might just provide Gabriel with a new perspective. If King can bring out some marginal gains in the Brazilian's approach, a newly independent Gabriel might be able to take his surfing to yet another level.