KILAUEA — Growing up in Kilauea, the ocean was Rylan Beavers’ playground.
And the countless hours of catching waves with his family are beginning to pay off.
Beavers, 11, has only been surfing for four years, but has already cemented himself as one of the nation’s top young surfers after winning first place in the Open Mini Groms division earlier this month at the National Scholastic Surfing Association National Championships at Huntington Beach, Calif.
“It was an amazing experience,” Beavers said. “It was the biggest accomplishment I’ve ever had. It was just a different feeling from anything else.”
Beavers also earned third place in the Explorer Super Groms finals, finishing behind Diesel Storm Butts of Hilo, Hawaii, and Jak Ziets of Santa Barbara, Calif.
Beavers wasn’t as nervous as he was anxious to compete against the nation’s top young surfers. But he said that with support from friends and family he was able to take a deep breath and calm down.
“There were a lot (of competitors),” Beavers said. “The heat was kind of tricky. I had my goals even before the final contest, and then I got in the heat and I just blocked everything out and focused.”
Not only did Beavers have to beat out the competition at the national championships, he had to push and prove himself along the way to qualify.
“To even get to go to nationals, he had to go through many rounds to qualify to go to California,” said Mandy Beavers, Rylan’s mother. “There were kids from Japan, Florida, California, Hawaii, all over the continental U.S.”
But once he arrived to Huntington Beach, there was no looking back.
His father, Taylor, said in an email that his son first got up on a surfboard when he was 2, five years before actually going into the ocean. He has only been surfing competitively since 2015 and already has RVCA, Minami Surfboards, Wanted Dream and Hanalei Surf Shop as sponsors.
Currently a sixth-grader attending Hanalei School, Beavers has already surfed in Bali, El Salvador and Nicaragua. While he’s pleased to join the ranks of other national champion surfers from Kauai, like the late Andy Irons, Bruce Irons, Koa Smith, Leila Hurst and Gabriela Bryan, to name a few, Beavers knows that he has a long road ahead of him.
“At one stage of my life, I want to be on the world tour,” he said. “But I think it’s gonna take at least 10 years to get there.”
In the meantime, Beavers is looking forward to the upcoming winter, hoping to catch some big waves and compete again.