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We promise this won't (really) hurt.

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Reef Heazlewood Sent Instagram Into A Tailspin With His Recent Hawaii Airs

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Reef Heazlewood Sent Instagram Into A Tailspin With His Recent Hawaii Airs

Growing up on Australia’s Sunshine Coast, currently ranked 18th on the QS, young Reef Heazlewood is a man on the move. He’s spent much of the year traveling with coach Rainos Hayes, world junior champ Finn McGill and the Moniz boys. 

“It’s been really fun because it’s the first time that I’ve really traveled without my mum. It’s been good to get some freedom, have some fun and work with the boys,” said Reef when Stab caught up with him.

Showing up on the North Shore a couple of weeks ago, he’s since dropped $1,500 on a used minivan and launched a couple massive punts at Rocky Point. A big result at Haleiwa or Sunset could be enough to get on tour in 2019. But true to the humble goofy-footer’s character, he’s taking it all in stride.

“I’ve been giving it good crack this year, but I’ve been formulating a couple-year plan to qualify and get onto the CT as well prepared as possible,” said Reef. “I’ve been training and trying to get as much experience as I can. It’s been a little tough, but I’m definitely learning a lot.” 

Unburdened by an omnipresent spotlight or the pressures of too much hype, Reef’s been able to make his way in the surf world by doing things his way. After competing on the junior circuit last year, in 2018 he went all in on the QS.

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"I’ve been giving it good crack this year, but I’ve been formulating a couple-year plan to qualify and get onto the CT as well prepared as possible."

“The QS is just so intense with the level of everyone’s surfing. You’ve got the Brazilians that are just taking it to another level. Then you’ve got people from places you’ve never really heard of and that’s really eye-opening. It’s really cool and it lifts your surfing up as well,” explained Reef. “It shows you that you need to have the brains and the surfing to really make it because nowadays everyone’s got the surfing.”

“I think it’s good to have to grind for awhile because it makes you really appreciate everything once you do get onto the tour. It makes you stronger and tougher and wiser. I think it’s a good step from the QS to the CT,” continued Reef.

From Gary Elkerton to Julian Wilson, the Sunshine Coast has churned out a surf star or two over the years, but due to lack of consistent swell exposure, Sunny Coast surfers have had to scrap especially hard to make it.

“I feel like from the start coming from the Sunshine Coast you had to battle against the Goldie kids because they’re a bit more in the spotlight, so that was always a little bit of a battle,” concurred Reef. “But I’ve always been one that’s been happy to let my surfing do the talking. Eventually I got a bit more noticed, got a few results, and it’s been really cool to just work harder and do my best. I’ve really just tried to focus on working hard and not really worrying about whether I get noticed or something.”

This winter Reef came to Hawaii with guns blazing. Stomping a couple massive airs that have caught everyone on Instagram by surprise, Reef wasn’t that surprised. But he also doesn’t want to be defined solely as an “air guy.”

“I’ve definitely love practicing my airs,” he said. “Coming from the Sunshine Coast there’s not really any big, barreling waves. We’ve got a couple, but we just don’t get the swell, so I feel like I’m getting hungrier for those kind of waves. I’m looking forward to hunting them down and doing a few strike missions where I can really get some big, thick barrels.” 

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"Coming from the Sunshine Coast there’s not really any big, barreling waves. We’ve got a couple, but we just don’t get the swell, so I feel like I’m getting hungrier for those kind of waves."

“Julian’s from the Sunshine Coast too. You kind of expected people from small-wave places to not really charge, but I’ve seen him charge some big waves. And I kind of want to do that like him. I don’t want to be known as just a small-wave guy,” he added. “His surfing’s so clean and stylish, and he can go for the big punts too. It’s really refreshing to see the two combined. I’ve always thought that Julian had it all, he’s really pushed every aspect of his surfing. He did the longboarding, he did the shortboarding, he did everything when he was younger. Then I think he got fired up, wanted to get barreled, and really wanted to push himself to be the best. He wasn’t going to settle, he really pushed himself to be the best in everything he did.”

When it comes to being the best, Reef’s happy to take the straight and narrow path. Raised in a devout Christian family, he’s not somebody that you’re going to catch out late at night raising hell. He’s grounded, committed to his family, his religion and his surfing.

“I definitely looked up to the Hobgoods. Being a Christian, I was like, ‘Wow, they’re Christians and they’re doing really well.’ I wanted to be like them, representing Jesus and stuff and doing the surfing, I really looked up to them. They were definitely a big influence on my,” he explained. “I’ve had a lot of role models that I’ve looked up to. I’ve watch Joel [Parkinson] and Mick [Fanning] and Kelly [Slater] push it. Then when Dane [Reynolds] came around I was like, ‘Oh, he’s sick.’ I’ve really looked at everyone and been impressed by different components of what they’ve been able to do and accomplish. I feel like I’ve looked at everyone and taken things from here and there.”

Hardly the only Aussie on the 2018 WSL qualification bubble, Reef’s excited to be a member of the next generation making a push.

“I feel like there’s definitely been a big group of Aussies that have kind of been coming up,” said Reef. “There’s always been this group of Aussies there, but I feel like other countries have risen up to that level and it’s now more competitive, so we don’t have the bigger presence anymore. You’ve got other countries here too now, but I feel like we have some really good Aussies coming through with guys like Jack [Freestone] and Ryan Callinan, that have made the tour and are having a really good at the QS now. And there are some younger guys like Jackson Baker and Jordy Lawler. I feel like there’s a big crew of guys that have set themselves to the task of being the best. It’s a good crew. You see them around the world and we’re always having a good laugh and stuff.”

Reef’s also made a point of taking surf trips to help develop his acumen in heavier waves, as well as to compile video clips to help hopefully expand his visibility. Based on his latest video drop and all the momentum he’s carrying into the Hawaiian season, we expect to see much more of him in the not too distant future.

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