I was born in American Samoa and raised up in Southeast Georgia (USA). I grew up playing sports like football and basketball. I was always drawn to the ocean from an early age and learned how to bodysurf and boogie board when I was around 4 years old. Around the time I was 11 or 12, my Uncle West and father got me interested in surfing as they had both grew up surfing in Florida in the 60’s and 70’s. Their influence inspired me to try it and during a family vacation when I was 12 years old, I stood up on the very first wave in Cocoa Beach, Florida and rode it all the way to the beach. The rest was history. It took over my life and I knew that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
So shortly after graduating high school, I wanted to go back to where I was born to catch up with my Samoan roots, family, culture, and also find some good surf! That is exactly what I did. Best move of my life. Learned about my beautiful Samoan history and culture and found epic surf while I was there for 3 years. After such a wonderful experience in Samoa, I wanted to go get a taste of the North Shore of Hawaii and take my surfing to the next level. That is where I discovered the amazing sport of Stand Up Paddle Boarding. While working as an surfing instructor at Turtle Bay on the North Shore of Oahu, (Hans Hedemann Surf School), I was first introduced to SUP in 2012.
I tried it and loved it. It seemed to come very natural for me and SUP Surfing really began to appeal to me once I saw the boards beginning to go smaller. SUP suited my style, body type, and just simply felt natural for me. I continued to stick with it and when I eventually moved back to where I was raised in South Georgia, I realized even more benefits of it. With the use of the paddle, I could catch tiny waves much earlier to generate enough speed to actually make surfing quite fun in average to crappy conditions. In addition, SUP Surfing was also really fun in good surf too and as boards began to drop down in size, the fun level went even higher.
The challenge of it was also something I loved, and I also felt some kind of spiritual connection with the use of the paddle. I sometimes think about my Polynesian ancestors and how they utilized the paddles on their traditional canoes, and stories and evidence (such as the Duke) of SUP may have been in the culture long before it became popular today. I honestly get the feeling that SUP was my calling. I believe SUP is a huge part of my purpose here on earth. It is my gift to share with the world and make a difference in some way. I hold on to this belief and my love for SUP continues to grow everyday. That is why I love teaching, coaching, and sharing the stoke and passion of SUP just as much, if not more than doing it myself.
Hometown: Brantley County, Georgia
Sponsors: Jimmy Lewis Boards, Ke Nalu Paddles, Davis Love III Paddle & Putt, Swamp Hippie
Heroes: Huguenot Park North Jetty, Jacksonville Florida
Favorite Discipline: Sup Surfing
Favorite Sup Spot: Huguenot Park North Jetty, Jacksonville Florida
Favorite Board: 7'5 Jimmy Lewis SuperTech, 6'11 Jimmy Lewis SuperFrank
Favorite Paddle: Ke Nalu Mana 82
INDUSTRY AFFILIATIONS AND CERTIFICATIONS
American Red Cross Lifeguard CPR/AED Certified
AWARDS AND ACCOLADES
2015 East Coast, USA SUP Champion
2016 1st Place Florida Waterman’s Challenge Open SUP Shortboard
2016 1st Place Florida Waterman’s Challenge Open SUP Longboard
2016 1st Place Open SUP Hutchinson Island Pro