Huntington Beach, California
I’m just a little Asian boy trying to get pitted.
My dad grew up surfing in Rio. So, when I was 4 years old, my dad put me and my brother on a shortboard and told us that we had an hour to stand up or else we wouldn’t get dinner. After about an hour, I managed to get up on my knees, and I got to go home and eat dinner--which was mac and cheese, the best thing ever.
After that, I just kept doing it. Surfing is something that I just fell in love with. I competed throughout middle school and high school. And my sophomore year in high school, I was able to compete in nationals. Along with my surf team, I got to go to Australia and make it to the quarterfinals in the competition. It was an awesome experience because we stayed with surfers from local high schools.
Watching locals surf is one of the best parts about traveling around. I spent this summer backpacking through Southeast Asia. So, I was in Tokyo for a little bit, Thailand for a week and Bali for three weeks just surfing with some of my best friends from home. Bali had some of the best waves in the world. We went to an island off the coast called Sumbawa. We drove two hours from the airport to this little beach called Lakey Peak, which had three little huts. It was a super remote wave where only local kids were surfing it. And these young kids don’t have great surf equipment, but they just rip. They’re just so good; they own the wave.
If you surf in Uluwatu, you have to walk out on the dry reef on the low tide. So, I took a wave that was a little smaller on the inside and I tried pulling in, but ended up wiping out. The waves basically picked me up and dropped me on my back, dragging me across the dry reef. When I got up, my entire back was scratched up and blood was dripping down and everything. And since there’s not that great of medicine in Bali, my friends took some limes and squeezed the juice onto my back. After they patched me up, I paddled back out into the water. It was so painful, but the waves were just too amazing.
Actually, one of the best sessions of my life was during this trip. There’s this beach called Keramas where we were surfing. I was able to paddle in the wave, take off and the first thing I knew, I was in the barrel pumping the get through. There’s really no way to describe it. You’re literally in it and just engulfed by the wave - you’re completely filled by water. You’re going probably 20mph down this wave and the coolest part is seeing this sliver of light at the end. You’re just trying to reach that light and if you make it far enough, the wave will break behind you and the air will compress and shoot you out of it.
Everything about surfing is that whenever I travel, it’s to find a wave. Because when I’m surfing, I don’t think about anything else. I go surfing at school like once or twice a week. I don’t have my phone, I don’t have a connection to life - I’m just in the water. The greatest thing about surfing is that I get an escape. It’s always fun finding new waves and meeting new surfers
For me, it was always the best thing in the world. It’s hard to describe, but you’re literally out in the water surfing and there’s nothing else going on around you, but surfing.