Lucas Quinn felt the thumping of his heartbeat pulsing through his surfboard. The adrenaline turned to excitement as he began to paddle and kick ahead of an approaching four foot wave. Anywhere else in the world, four feet might not sound like much, but this was Hawaii. A place of beautiful sunrises, sunsets, whales jumping, green jagged mountains, and rainbows. Also, a place where the wave is measured from its back. So, a measly four feet is really about an eight-foot face! It was shaping up to be the perfect roller for someone trying to advance to the third and final round of the HSA Maui Shredder Championship in the boys under 13 category.


Thrashing forward, he could feel the wave’s energy sucking him up the face, like a teeter-totter, the back of the board rising as the nose dipped. His heart: thump, thump. A quick flip of his head, tossing his shaggy blond hair to one side, freed his brown eyes to find the sweet spot just before popping up on his board.


Lucas’s rash guard and board shorts still hung a tad baggy on his tween body, but thankfully, his feet had grown over the summer. He could feel the extra traction, helped by the board wax that was swathed liberally from edge to edge of his second-hand 5’ 6” fishtail short board, which stood an inch taller than Lucas and was nearing its lifespan.


Often, the trade winds push the swells south toward Maui’s north shore. But today, the ideal conditions existed. The winds were light, keeping the ocean spray to a minimum—surfing is much harder with salty water slapping you in the face and stinging your eyes. And, a low pressure system to the north generated a clean swell. This meant, as Lucas crested the peak, kicked his board 360 degrees, and stuck the landing, the wave began to curl and form the perfect barrel. He spread his feet apart and ducked slightly as the sea flowed upward from his right and bent over his head and downward to his left forming a turquoise tunnel. Speeding toward the shoulder—thump, thump, thump—Lucas reached out his hand let his fingers dance along the upward flowing wall of water.


The surreal moment lasted only briefly. He sensed the wave’s energy dissipating and felt the curl of the barrel tightening around him. Tucking in and leaning forward, Lucas shot out of the barrel, steering toward the collapsing shoulder and over the back of the wave. As his momentum waned, he began sinking into cool Pacific waters. A loud horn blew to end the heat as he flumped back onto his board. Lucas again flicked his hair out of his eyes and zeroed in on the shore. He paddled toward the rocky shoreline, confident that he’d have the score necessary to not just move on but possibly take the whole thing, finally proving that he was no longer a grom. After today, he’d be a full-fledged surfer—maybe even get sponsored!


As Lucas approached the shoreline, he could see tourist gawking over the honu, or large green sea turtles, that had pulled themselves up on shore—enjoying the warm sun and avoiding the jaws of tiger sharks. He could also see the judges, about a story above the beach in the picnic section of Ho’okipa, hunched over the scoring tables and feverishly scribbling notes. He let a wave carry him in, and as it washed back out to sea, left him standing, holding his board beneath his right arm. He took a few steps forward to avoid being toppled by the next incoming wave. Before removing his leash and wrapping it around his board, he photo bombed an unsuspecting tourist with the shaka sign and a cheesy grin, revealing braces beneath a sun-kissed and freckled face.


As Lucas looked up from removing the leash from his ankle, he noticed two familiar faces descending the concrete stairs leading to the beach. They were Maui’s own local surf legends Kyle Hendrix and Ian Waterman. He quickly wrapped the leash above the fins and secured the board beneath his arm. His heart rate increased again as he nervously approached the two pro surfers and let out a squeaky, “Hey!”


“Lucas, right? Great shredding out there,” said Kyle.


Whoa! He knows my name, thought Lucas as he searched for a reply that wouldn’t embarrass himself, irking out an, “Uh, thanks,” before an awkwardly staring at them both.


“Yeah, man, excited to see what you’ll do in the final round.” Said Ian.


Wait, did he know something? Was Ian privy to the results already? “Uh, thanks.”


Kyle and Ian glanced quickly at one another before Ian replied, “You’re welcome,” while raising his right hand for a fist bump. Kyle offering the same. “Go get refreshed; maybe you’ll be the one to win the trip to Bali with Kyle and me for the surf photoshoot?”


Lucas’s eyes widened and an involuntary grin spanned his face as he bumped both Ian’s and Kyle’s fists. “That’d be lit.” The announcer interrupted the moment by booming over the speaker the names of the advancing surfers. Kyle and Ian continued down the beach as Lucas stood frozen, picking at the callous on his hands. 


The announcer started with the younger divisions and finally made it to the boys 13 and under group. Only three would advance, “Deen Coy”… “Nelson Perry”… and, “Lucas Quinn.”


Lucas let out a breath of air, which he hadn’t realized he was holding in. He immediately drifted off in a daydream, watching himself climb atop the “1st Place” podium nestled in the sand. Adoring fans snapping pics for their social media as the sun set behind him and the sea breeze gave life to his surfer hair. Off in the distance, Kyle and Ian clapped, Ian mouthing, “You’re going to Bali.” It felt real and deserved. After his father had abandoned their family, Lucas had to step up and become the man of the house with no real guidance or training, his childhood crashing like the Paia Bay shore break. He thought, if he could master the waves, surely he could master manhood.


Another horn blow brought Lucas back to reality. He dabbed his face with a Nomadix towel and reapplied a zinc-based sunscreen to his face and shoulders. He also wiped the sweat forming around his palms as he reached into his Dakine backpack and peeled back a ripe apple banana. Even though he felt a little uneasy in his stomach, he knew he’d need the energy. Throwing the peel inside his bag, he reached back in for his surf wax and applied more to the board. Any feelings of nervousness faded for a moment as he glanced at the sticker affixed to the upper right-hand side of his board. His mom had given it to him and it reminded him to keep moving forward. It was a rooster wearing Yoda’s robes. Text circling the rooster read, “Cockle-doodle-DO... there is no try — Ho’okipa, Maui.” The sticker is funnier to those familiar with Maui being overrun with free-range chickens. Seriously, you can’t even go to Costco without opening your door to a rooster’s crow!


Another sound of the horn alerted the boys 13 and under to paddle out. Lucas zipped his bag, grabbed his board, and trotted to the entry point. He timed his launch with an outgoing swell; holding his board securely out in front; he pushed off from the sand and landed flat along his board. Floating on top, the receding water returned Lucas to the sea. He readjusted his body to bring his center of gravity toward his chest. This increased his balance and made paddling easier. After a few duck dives, Lucas was in position. He sat up and slicked his hair back. He gave one last look at the shore; the beach was full of on-lookers, or better yet, fans. Then he maneuvered his board parallel to the incoming swell and watch the rolling water, eagerly awaiting the starting horn.


The horn blew!


Who are some people, real or fiction, that you admire?

What is it specifically that you admire about them?

If you had these specific traits, strenghts, etc., how would you use them?