It was a very quiet car ride

Sandon Whittaker

Samuel Pupo

No trap music. Little conversation. Just a handful of undersized humans in an oversized van, all trying to get their heads right for the final day of the 2016 Quiksilver Young Guns final. A lot of money was on the line. A title, too.

The van stopped, but the silence kept on rolling as the kids piled out to greet 3-4 foot waves already being whipped by the wind. A blanket of grey clouds blocked the brightness, both literally and figuratively. That all changed fast.

Marco Mignot

Rio Waida

“The day started with an expression session for those who weren’t in the final. Malakai Martinez, that sly devil, won it with a chunky air reverse to the flats. His peers on the beach screamed, cheered, whistled, then realized they had to get their shit together and surf the final.

The final. The result of months of great surfing. Sammy Pupo, Marco Mignot, Sandy Whittaker and Rio Waida all posted Instagram clips that were hand-picked by Mikey Wright, Ezekiel Lau and Jermey Flores. Then they had to survive a round of public voting. Then a trip to California and four rounds of surfing here at DMJ’s, judged by Mikey, Zeke and Jeremy. The culmination of it all was an hour-long freesurf with no criteria. Whoever surfs the best wins. Fair to say the judges know what they’re doing.

Sandy and a rail game well beyond his years

Sammy started strong. Sandy started stronger. Marco started strongest. He opened with a few turns and an air, then settled into a pace of a good wave every few minutes. With time disappearing, he was all but chaired up the beach.


A photo posted by Samuel Pupo (@samuel_pupo) on

But then, Rio.

Oceanside // Photo by @boskophoto // @quiksilver #quiksurf #ygsurf

A photo posted by R I O W A I D A (@riowaida_) on

He had a few waves in the final. Nothing special, though, until he took the liberty of putting together one of the best combos of the event in the last thirty seconds.

The judges gathered. The tension built. A bird flew by, but it was symbolic of nothing. Then Mikey Wright paddled out with a check for $10K and handed it to Mister Waida.

Before this event, Rio didn’t have much — just access to some of the world’s finest surf and one of the best attitudes you could ever hope to encounter. He grew up on Bali and faced some serious medical and financial issues in his early life, but surfing was always there when he needed to escape. This was his first time to America. This was not a bad payday.

Rio Waida, Ecstatic

Rio caught a wave in and the feels came out. He was excited. Then in disbelief. Then “so happy.” then grateful. And finally, a mix of ‘em all. Everyone offered him a hug, a high-five or even a tear. It was an emotional moment, and in the best way possible.

He broke the chegue!

It was not a very quiet car ride back.

Posted in Events
Tagged in young guns