By Clare Seeger Mawae
The opening of the Stand-Up World Tour for 2015 was the Turtle Bay Women’s Pro on Feb. 7 and 8 along with the Na Kama Kai Youth Challenge leading to the main event, The Sunset Pro at Sunset Beach. Alex Mawae from Molokai had the experience of his young life with challenging conditions, big surf and being around kids who just ripped in the surf.
The World Tour has always had the Na Kama Kai events added in for young and upcoming paddlers to attend. This year at Turtle Bay 2015, the youth outnumbered the women with 20 youth competitors, so the three young girls from Maui were taken out of the Na Kama Kai challenge and competed with the women since time was of the essence due to the conditions. Those girls shone brightly with 15-year-old Laura Claydon of Maui taking fifth overall in the women’s division. Thirteen-year-old Anna Reickert and 14-year-old Skyler Lickle from Maui both did incredibly well against the experienced women competitors. The young paddlers came from as far as Holland, Tahiti, Puerto Rico, and then Maui, Oahu and Alex from Molokai.
The conditions were super challenging with side shore winds, strong currents and 6-10 foot surf (faces) and breaking way bigger on the outer reefs. Saturday was a wash and Sunday the conditions cleaned up with lighter winds and easier to get to the outside. The youth division was split into two with the 14-16 category and 13 and under. Alex did awesome taking the difficult conditions in his stride and catching waves of his life that have empowered him to another level. He did not make it to the finals but this event for young Alex Mawae was not about winning, instead it was competing with likeminded kids in big surf.
In the 14-16 division, the youth took SUP paddling to a whole new level with these young riders planning to compete in the Sunset Pro’s first round of trials with a forecast of big surf on the horizon. David Nainoa from Tahiti stole the show in this 30 minute shootout, with fellow Tahitian Raioha Mauiki in second. The two Maui boys, Jeffrey Spencer and Alohikea Kalalau, put on impressive performances that blew the spectators away.
In the Under-13 division Keola Auwae absolutely ripped and became a huge inspiration for Alex and the other young kids in seeing what a 13-year-old can do. Dave Allen de Armas from Puerto Rico also put on an impressive performance. Finn Spencer the young 11-year-old from Maui was fearless in his approach to the surf, along with Kyler Kerbox who is following in his brother and father’s footsteps and finally Kai Clayton the young 9-year-old from Lahaina showed that he is hot on the heels of the bigger kids with his surfing style.
The Turtle Bay event was an amazing experience for Alex and the other youth. All the youth that participated were incredibly talented and all wanting to win the event. This day was not for Alex when it came to winning. Instead this day was a growth spurt of confidence as Alex embarks on his new adventures with Stand Up paddling around the State.