Stab Magazine | Ten school kids who charge harder than you
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Ten school kids who charge harder than you

Story by Russell Quinn Let’s make a wild assumption. Many of us will never surf a wave over six feet. Actually, let’s go further than that. Many of us are beyond thrilled to ride waves in the four foot realm. Confronting, isn’t it? But true. And, that’s cool. The kids you’re about to meet don’t […]

style // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 10 minutes

Story by Russell Quinn

Let’s make a wild assumption. Many of us will never surf a wave over six feet. Actually, let’s go further than that. Many of us are beyond thrilled to ride waves in the four foot realm. Confronting, isn’t it? But true. And, that’s cool. The kids you’re about to meet don’t fit this mould. They flourish when the charts turn a deep shade of purple, and with a dedicated world tour now underway, big wave surfing is now a legitimate career. As surfers begin to embrace larger swells and discover more unique ways of documenting them, the age of those ocean-wranglers is on the constant decline. Some of these punks haven’t even celebrated their 16th birthday. And, nothing like a fire engine to celebrate the best barrel of their life. Here’s 10 of them, in no particular order.

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Riley Laing
Riley_Laing_Brad_Masters

Riley Laing, stabilising his small structure in the belly of the beast. Photo by Brad Masters.

Name: Riley Laing
Age: 15
Hometown: North Entrance, NSW, Australia.
School: Home schooled.
Biggest surf you’ve been out in? 15ft Shipsterns.
How’d you overcome your fear of big waves? I used to do Nippers as a kid and that got my confidence up in the water. Since I was 10 I was towing and paddling my home bombie with my dad, Justin Allport, Robert Coote and a couple of other local guys and they encouraged me and looked after me out in the bigger stuff.
Truancy count? I’ve missed stacks so now my mum home schools me.
What lengths have you gone to for a surf? On my last trip to Indo we drove from Bali to Sumba over three Islands. It took us five days of non-stop travelling, with driving, ferry rides and not a lot of sleep.
What do you like about surfing big waves? You never know what to expect.
Best tube? At Shipsterns Bluff in 2013 Laurie Towner whipped me into a wave and I made the step just by a hair and then swooped in under the barrel and I could see everybody in the channel cheering me on, including Kelly Slater. It was just the best feeling ever.
Best surfer your age? Russell Bierke. He is charging.
What gets more girls, big waves or full-rotes? Probably full rote (laughs). I’ve been practicing mine.
Places you’d most like to surf? Skeleton Bay.
How many barrels have you had in your lifetime? I’ve had a few (laughs). Got to love a good barrel.

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Kona Oliveira
KonaJaws_Fred_Pompermayer

Kona Oliveira demonstrating how fear can be enjoyable, to some. Photo by Fred Pompermayer.

Name: Kona Oliveira
Age: 15
Hometown: North Shore, Hawaii.
School: Home schooled.
Biggest surf you’ve been out in? Pe’ahi (Jaws) 20-25 ft.
How’d you overcome your fear of big waves? I didn’t – I still fear every time I surf big waves. It’s just an enjoyable fear.
Truancy count? I lost count! But I think around 30 or more (laughs).
What lengths have you gone to for a surf? The one time I was in Mexico we had to cross a crocodile-infested river to go for a surf.
What do you like about surfing big waves? That feeling you get when your paddle for a wave. It almost feels like time slows down and all you’re thinking about is making the wave. And then after you kick out you just have the craziest rush.
Best tube? Probably at Teahupoo when I was 14. Everyone was screaming at me to go. I took off upside-down and all I could remember was the barrel just spiting super hard. I couldn’t see anything when I came out and everyone was hooting and hollering.
Describe your approach to big wave surfing? I just act on gut instinct and go.
What gets more girls, big waves or full-rotes? I’d say they both work but Mason Ho’s Wave of the Winter takes the cake on that one.
Places you’d most like to surf? Shipsterns.
How many barrels have you had in your lifetime? Lost count.

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Noah Beschen
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Noah Beschen dwarfed by his surroundings. Palikir Pass. Photo by Henrique Pinguim.

Name: Noah Beschen
Age: 13
Hometown: North Shore, Hawaii.
School: Hawaii Tech Academy.
Biggest surf you’ve been out in? 10-foot Sunset.
How’d you overcome your fear of big waves? I just try to think about the amazing ride I could possibly get instead of being like ‘Wow, if I fall on the thing I’m gonna get worked’.
Truancy count? Well I’m home schooled now but the reason I am is because I’ve missed so many days when I actually went to school.
What do you like about surfing big waves? Big barrels.
Best tube? It was at P-Pass. I pulled in, came over the foam ball straight into another section and came out.
Best surfer your age? That’s a hard one because there are so many kids in that age group that rip.
Describe your approach to big wave surfing? I try to get the best waves I can and hopefully get barrelled on them.
What gets more girls, big waves or full-rotes? Big waves because then they’ll be like ‘OMG weren’t you scared?’
Places you’d most like to surf? Chopes.
How many barrels have you had in your lifetime? Yeah, I’ve had a few.

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Barron Mamiya

Name: Barron Mamiya
Age: 14
Hometown: Haleiwa, Hawaii.
School: Hawaii Tech Academy.
Biggest surf you’ve been out in? 18-foot Waimea.
How’d you overcome your fear of big waves? I just told myself YOLO.
Truancy count? Like, two weeks maybe.
What lengths have you gone to for a surf? I am lucky to live on the North Shore so I don’t have to go to extreme lengths.
What do you like about surfing big waves? The adrenaline.
Best tube? It was at Backdoor. I took off and started pumping. It looked like a closeout so I didn’t think I was going to make it, but then it started to open up and spat me out.
Best surfer your age? Jake Marshall.
Describe your approach to big wave surfing? Pretty much just gear up and paddle out. I just act on gut instinct because it feels right.
What gets more girls, big waves or full-rotes? Big waves.
Places you’d most like to surf? Desert Point.
How many barrels have you had in your lifetime? More than I can count.

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Koby Oberholzer
Koby-Oberholzer_Alan_van_Gysen

Koby Oberholzer, 14, Dungeons, that is all. Photo by Alan van Gysen.

Name: Koby Oberholzer
Age: 14
Hometown: Warner Beach, South Africa.
School: I was in Amanzimoti High, now my Mum is going to home school me as I miss too much from travelling.
Biggest surf you’ve been out in? Dungeons, 18-20 foot.
How’d you overcome your fear of big waves? My dad charges, I guess I get it from him.
Truancy count? At least two days every week.
What lengths have you gone to for a surf? Surfing ¼ foot waves up a river called Illovo on a finless windsurfer on a spring tide.
What do you like about surfing big waves? The feeling you get when nothing else matters.
Best tube? I got some crazy barrels the other day at Desert Point.
Best surfer your age? Jack Robinson. He charges barrels and does huge airs.
Describe your approach to big wave surfing? You have to be calculated and you have to want to be out there. You never know what Mother Nature’s got planned, big or small, as a surfer you got to ride all them all.
What gets more girls, big waves or full-rotes? Big waves for sure. Look at Grant “Twiggy” Baker, he is dating a supermodel.
Places you’d most like to surf? Pipeline, Skeleton Bay and Sunset.
How many barrels have you had in your lifetime? 747 but who’s counting?

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Russell Bierke
Russell-Bierke_Jakcob-Montgomery1

Batten down the hatches and brace for impact – Russell Bierke, NSW South Coast. Photo by Jakcob Montgomery.

Name: Russell Bierke
Age: 16
Hometown: Ulladulla, NSW, Australia.
School: Ulladulla High School.
Biggest surf you’ve been out in? It’s hard to put a number on it, but it was at Waimea Bay and there was the odd closeout set.
How’d you overcome your fear of big waves? I’ve always wanted to surf big waves, ever since I was a little kid. I guess I just kept pushing myself past my comfort zone.
What lengths have you gone to for a surf? Probably going to Shipsterns is the most extreme length I’ve gone to for one surf. All up it was eight hours of driving, five hours of flying and two hours of walking for a single session.
What do you like about surfing big waves? I really like the adrenaline rush you get when you take off on a big wave, especially paddling because it’s so hard to even get into position to catch the wave.
Best tube? I was surfing a slab in the desert and a pretty solid lump of water came in and started to ledge up. Kelly Slater was sitting in the channel and told me to go, so I really had no choice but to put my head down and go. I barely made the drop and when I looked up I thought I was way too deep, I was just going to hold on until the foamball threw me off but it never did. It ended up spitting me into the channel in front of Kelly!
Best surfer your age? Jack Robinson.
Describe your approach to big wave surfing? I think calculation and gut instinct go hand in hand. If you’ve thought something through but it still doesn’t feel right, for me is probably worse than just going off gut instinct. In saying that, gut instinct has put me in some sticky situations before so you definitely need a combination of both.
What gets more girls, big waves or full-rotes? Unfortunately for me I think full-rotes pull more chicks.
Places you’d most like to surf? I’d love to surf solid Teahupoo. However I wouldn’t mind having a go at The Right as well.
How many barrels have you had in your lifetime? Haven’t been counting. That would be pretty cool if I kept count though!

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Matahi Drollet
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It didn’t take long for Matahi Drollet to find his footing at Chopes. 16 years to be precise. Photo by Raihei Tapeta.

Name: Matahi Drollet
Age: 16
Hometown: Live near Teahupo’o, but sleep at school during the week.
School: High School of Papara called Lycée Tuianu Le Gayic.
Biggest surf you’ve been out in? 10 foot Chopes.
How’d you overcome your fear of big waves? You can’t overcome your fear of big waves. You just have to go and see what happens. It’s better when you have friends in the water. It helps you to push your limits.
Truancy count? Three days, I think.
Best tube? It wasn’t really big, just perfect, a little bit deep, in front of my parents and my friends, finish with a nice spit.
Best surfer your age? Jack Robinson. He’s a freak.
Describe your approach to big wave surfing? It’s cool to push your limits, but you have to be ready. For me, it’s all about lots of training. Big wave surfers are going bigger and bigger. It’s just crazy.
What gets more girls, big waves or full-rotes? I think big waves. Depends on the girls, if they prefer REAL men (laughs).
Places you’d most like to surf? Greenbush, Pipeline or Keramas.
How many barrels have you had in your lifetime? (Laughs) Maybe 100. So many.

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Frankie Harrer
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Frankie Harrer looking distressingly comfortable at Chopes. Photo by Morgan Maassen.

Name: Frankie Harrer
Age: 16
Hometown: Malibu, California
School: Compuhigh Online School.
Biggest surf you’ve been out in? I’m not exactly sure, but maybe around 20 foot faces.
How’d you overcome your fear of big waves? I’ve always kind of liked bigger waves ever since I was young. I guess I just like that feeling of being scared, but just trying it out anyways and getting to know what your limits are.
Truancy count? When I was younger I think I missed a couple here and there. My mom would tell me to fake a stomach ache (laughs).
What lengths have you gone to for a surf? I guess faking being sick in elementary school.
What do you like about surfing big waves? Just getting that one that makes all the scariness worth it. It’s just a really good feeling when you overcome anything that you’re scared of.
Best surfer your age? That’s really hard to say. There’s so many young guys and girls that are amazing right now.
Describe your approach to big wave surfing? I just like to try and push what I think my limits are at that moment, and I do enjoy surfing bigger waves. So when it’s big I think its a little bit of both. I’ll look at it for a bit and see what’s going on, and if my gut instinct is to go and it looks makeable I’ll go.
How many barrels have you had in your lifetime? I only really learned how to get frontside barrels in the last couple of years, and backside barrels definitely aren’t my strong suit. I think I should probably work on those (laughs).

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Jacob Willcox
Jacob_Willcox_Jamie_Scott

Jacob Willcox sitting way at the back of the bus in WA last week. Photo by Jamie Scott.

Name: Jacob Willcox
Age: 17
Hometown: Margaret River, Western Australia.
School: Margaret River Senior High School.
Biggest surf you’ve been out in? I’ve surfed a few 10-15 foot rolling waves around home and in Hawaii, but I’d rather surf a 6-8 foot slab instead.
Truancy count? I actually haven’t missed that many because when there is waves I get up early and then once I get off the bus after school I go straight to the beach again.
What lengths have you gone to for a surf? Whenever I have a free period I ride from school to the beach, which is about a 13 km ride, but it’s worth getting that extra hour in the surf.
What do you like about surfing big waves? The adrenalin rush and the self-satisfaction when you keep pushing yourself to go bigger waves.
Describe your approach to big wave surfing? In big waves you usually have to act fast and most of that comes as instinct because I have usually been exposed to the situation before. But at the same time, I’m not just out there and winging it. I will usually watch the waves and see what they are doing because you can easily get hurt.
What gets more girls, big waves or full-rotes? Full rotes on big waves?
Places you’d most like to surf? That left in Africa.
How many barrels have you had in your lifetime? A lot (laughs).

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Jack Robinson
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Jack Robinson playing undercover at The Box, WA. Photo by Tom Carey.

Name: Jack Robinson.
Age: 17
Hometown: Margaret River, Western Australia.
School: Home schooled.

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