POIPU — Local youth surfer Sage Tutterow said he got his love of surfing from his parents.
“They like to surf. So they’d take me surfing, and I just got into it,” Tutterow said. “(I remember) I was at Rock Quarry. My dad pushed me into a wave, and I just stood up on my own.”
The 2017 National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) Hawaii season kicked of a couple weekends ago at Prince Kuhio’s Beach in Poipu.
Tutterow, 14, kicked off the season with a handful of first-place finishes.
Hailing from Haena, Tutterow placed first in four divisions: Explorer Juniors, Explorer Mens, Open Junior and Open Mens.
The NSSA Hawaii season will continue next month on Maui but Tutterow said he’ll be traveling much farther for his next event.
He will represent Hawaii at the International Surfing Association (ISA) World Junior Surfing Championships. The world competition is set for Sept. 23 at Hyuga Beach in Miyazaki, Japan.
Tutterow, along with fellow Kauai youth surfers Gabriela Bryan and Keala Tomoda Bannert, qualified through rounds of tryouts and are part of a team of Hawaii surfers who will compete.
“I was really psyched on that,” Tutterow said. “Especially being I get to go with everyone.”
He added about the event: “It’s basically, you’re part of a team. It’s all the best kids from every country, and they just come together to have a contest … It’s like a regular contest. At the end, they add up everyone’s places.”
Tutterow has been competing in NSSA and HSA (Hawaii Surfing Association) for about seven years, he said.
His greatest accomplishment so far was placing fourth in the Boys U16 division at the USA Surfing Championships, hosted by national governing body Surfing America, at Lower Trestles in San Clemente, Calif.
“Every heat, it was just really hard. You got to do your best in every heat,” he said about nationals. “It was actually really cool to make it to the finals. And there’s a lot of kids that I knew that are super popular, and it’s just really cool — that feeling — that I’m on that level.”
The amount Tutterow needs to go to Japan is $3,500. Melissa Hosono, Tutterow’s mother, said she already paid that amount out of pocket but is fundraising to offset the costs.
Among the fundraising efforts is a GoFundMe crowdsourcing campaign. According to the campaign webpage, $1,150 has been raised as of Wednesday since it was created on July 26.
“It’s definitely a lot. They’ve actually asked me to come chaperone on the trip, too. So, I have to come up with money now. So, that’s $7,000,” Hosono said. “It’s fine. I don’t want to miss it. I missed watching him at nationals. I work a lot. I just feel like going on his first international trip with him would be awesome.”
Despite the steep price, Hosono — who is a single parent — doesn’t hesitate on doing what she can to help further her son’s career, which includes taking on extra tasks and longer hours at work.
“Anything I can do to support him, I know it’s worth it,” she said. “He’s not one of those kids that’s going to blow it. He’s not an angel. He’s 14. But, you know, he’s doing really well and staying focused.”
Tutterow said he’s doing all he can to prepare for the world stage.
“I do a little bit of stuff at home. Then, I have a trainer here,” he said. “There’s this place called Fit Lab on the North Shore. They do stuff for me. I train with them. It’s really cool.”
Hosono said because her son is self-motivated, and also because he reached the U16 finals at nationals against older competition, she believes he can go far.
“To be in the finals when you’re 14, that’s really awesome,” she said. “The competition is really fierce. Even in Hawaii, we have some of the best kids who are national champions. I know he’s the best of the kids out here on a given day. He can be the best … I know that he really has the drive.”
Tutterow’s fundraiser: www.gofundme.com/ISAWorlds.