Surfer hopes for strong showing at nationals

Kamalei Nathan Carvalho is currently on his way to compete in the Rip Curl GromSearch in California. Following that, he’ll compete in the National Surfing Championship.

This is the tail-end of his whirlwind surfing schedule that started last month.

The 14-year-old competed in the Volcom Totally Crustaceous Surfing Championships at Newport Beach, Calif., where he finished in seventh place, then competed in the Local Motion Surf into Summer event on O‘ahu where he finished second.

He got a short break to finish the school year at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, before Hawai‘i Amateur Surfing Association State Championships.

Prior to all those competitions, he earned the No. 1 ranking for Kaua‘i for the Boys 12 to 14 Division when he competed in a Hawai‘i Surfing Federation meet at Prince Kuhio’s.

What sets him apart from many of the young surfing talent hailing from Kaua‘i, is that Carvalho is basically a rookie to the competitive surfing scene.

“I just started competing last year,” Carvalho said. “My friends were doing it, so I wanted to start.”

But Carvalho actually started surfing at the age of 7. He credits his friends Michael Silva, Mana Medeiros and Kaimana Jaquias as the main guys who gave him the competitive surfing bug.

“He got really good, really fast,” said Jaquias, who has known Carvalho since the sixth grade and competed with him at the King of the Groms and the state meet. “We lost in the same heat (in the Groms).”

Jaquias has seen him evolve from a novice surfer to a tough competitor.

“He just snaps in the water,” he said. “He wasn’t that aggressive before. Now he’s an animal in the water.”

Carvalho made it to the semifinals at the state championship last week.

“The waves were small so it was kind of hard to catch a wave,” he said. “But I made it to the semis and finished fifth overall.”

Carvalho also made it into the airshow, an exhibition show held after states in which selected surfers get to show off moves for 15 minutes. The surfer with the fanciest moves wins $500. Carvalho finished third.

Now, Carvalho has high hopes for nationals. There he joins a slew of Kaua‘i surfers, namely Gabby Cope, Alana Blanchard, Alex and Koa Smith, Luke Hitchcock, Kaikea Elias, Kaioli Kahokula, Erica and Kristin Steiner, Aaron Swanson, Nage and Dylan Melamed, Dylan Goodale, Leila Hurst, Chris Foster, Dorian Blanchard, Tyler Newton, Nate Rex and Bear Bailey, just to name a few.

“My goal right now is to win nationals,” he said. “But if I make it to the finals, it’ll be OK.”

He will be surfing again against his buddies.

“Pretty much we’re friends out of the water, but once we’re in the water we’re not,” Carvalho said. “It’s kind of like business. There’s no friends in the water, is what my dad always says.”

There are numerous successful surfers from Kaua‘i like Andy and Bruce Irons, Rochelle Ballard, Alana Blanchard and even the Smith brothers. Carvalho is on his way up there.

In his one year of competition, he’s won several bigger contest entries and plane fare to them and is sponsored by the clothing company SRH, Surfboarding Radical Habits. Within the next couple of years, he hopes to become a money prize-winning contender.

Kamalei Nathan Carvalho

Age: 14

Hometown: Lihu‘e

Parents: Steve Carvalho and Michelle Chamberlain

Carvalho sounds off on:

What he’d be doing if he wasn’t surfing: “I’d probably be watching TV.”

His favorite surf spot: Kealia

The sport he’d attempt instead of surfing: “Skateboarding. I’m pretty good at it.”

Why there are so many notable surfers from Kaua‘i (Bruce and Andy Irons, Keala Kennelly, Rochelle Ballard, etc.): “There are so many different waves here on Kaua‘i. It really helps with your surfing.”

His favorite surfer: Mick Fanning (Australia)

How he would fare if he faced off against Fanning: “I don’t think I can compete with him. In a couple of years I probably could. Maybe.”

• Lanaly Cabalo, sports editor, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or


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