Featured Surfers

November 2015: Gavin Eason

gavin sotm
Gavin “Easy” Eason has the kind of style that makes you smile. Lately, the judges have been smiling a bit more as Gavin went on a tear in the NSSA and SSS surfing events. In the first event of the NSSA Northwest Open he put on a commanding performance in the Open Boys and finished first place over good friend and fellow Surf Happens team rider Hamilton Jacobs. The next day at Pleasure point he finished 2nd in the Explorer Menehune and was voted the NSSA surfer of the week. In the season opener of the Channel Coast SSS at Summers Beach Ventura he dominated 4 rounds before finishing a close runner up. A five year elite team member of Surf Happens, at age 12 he is a veteran in these contests and his experience and abilities are setting him up for a big state and national result.

One thing about Gavin to know: He loves snacks.

October 2015: Laird Finkel

Laird Finkel is a charger (as his first name suggests). Laird started surfing only a couple months ago. As summer turned to fall the waves got bigger. Most kids turn and run the other direction or at least have a little fear in their hearts. Laird goes straight out the back. No problem for Laird, and with a little assistance from an instructor he was dropping in. Not only did he drop in, but he made it. Laird has been surfing for a couple months and is now taking off on waves overhead on him! Laird sets the bar high, and me and all the instructors are stoked to see where he goes from here.

September 2015: Connor Kenney

Connor is a perfect example of one of our favorite kind of kids at Surf Happens Summer Camp. He likes to surf all the time, but at the same time is not at all serious and really knows how to have fun. Connor must’ve got at least 200 waves throughout the week. On the day of the competition at the end of the week he took home the gold. This was done by not only showing great surfing techniques, but by pulling some incredible dance moves on the board. He was also was wearing some stellar shades which never hurts.

July 2015: Brooke Derby

Greatness comes in many different shapes and sizes. Brooke was one of the highlights of the first week of Summer Camp. Whether in the water or on land her constant smile and constant love for all her fellow campers really connected the Surf Happens Tribe that week. She showed lots of improvement in the water, but also on Friday she helped commentate the weekly Surf Contest. Not only did she bring personality to mic, but she was also very informative and offered insight. Throughout the contest the offered encouragement to all the competitors. A pro commentator if I’ve ever seen one and definitely one of the kindest people I’ve met.

June 2015: Cayden Colasse

Cayden has been stepping up his game and putting in the hard yards this year. A true student of the sport he works hard and wears his heart on his sleeve, every session striving to push his level.

He has added a solid off the lip to his repertoire with no signs of slowing down; with improved competitive results as well as making it through rounds at the 2015 Rincon Classic, NSSA, and SSS events.

Mathematical in his approach and eager to learn it is only a matter of time before he finds the equation for success.

May 2015: Preston Janssen

preston surfing
Surfing is very much a mental experience. Whether that means mental enjoyment or conquering your fears. Preston just turned six, that means waves are head high to overhead for him a lot of the time. Preston has had many fears about surfing and the ocean, but he keeps being able to change his attitude and attack his fears head on. He’s progressively gotten better and he’s starting to paddle and surf on his own now. Recently he’s also set a great example for the little kids with perseverance and an upbeat attitude.

April 2015: Wade Kirkelie

Wade has just as much heart as the best of surfers out there. He puts himself in any situation to improve his skills. Even if it’s big for a kid his age, such as head high at C-Street. Wade is dedicated and is improving quickly, but he never stops to brag or put other kids down. He’s a great role model for the younger surfers and really gives them someone to look up to. Talking to the little kids a lot of them are magnetized towards Wade. Rather than being annoyed with the little ones Wade can always stop to hang out with them. Sometimes he even helps the little ones with their surfing. Wade is a good surfer and an even better person.

March 2015: Cassidy Urbany

Without much though Cassidy deserves surfer of the month. Not only because of her results in NSSA and the 2015 Rincon Classic, but also because of her outrageous improvement in the recent months. She is throwing sharper crisper turns and really starting to develop her own style. There is a lot to look forward to as Cassidy continues to grow as a surfer, and without a doubt more great contest results are on the horizon. Check out the video below of Cassidy at Rincon.

February 2015: Demi Boelsterli


Although it has become what we expect, Demi was once again incredible in the Rincon Classic, winning the women’s division for the 11th time in a row. She dominated the competition with a score of 18.13, almost 4 points above the last competitor. It’s not only surfing though, she excels in art as well. She is also perusing the goal of growing her own business, Friday Night Amateurs. Her clothing matches if not exceeds her style on a surfboard, and that’s a pretty bold statement.

January 2015: Jace Kennedy

Age: 15

Program: Elite Team / I.S.P.E

Stance: Goofy
Favorite Surfer: Bobby Martinez
School: Santa Barbara High

About Jace:  Jace Kennedy is a character. The kid seems to have fun no matter what, and is most often found laughing and heckling his friends. With his buttery smooth style he  has earned the nickname of the Velveteen Rabbit or “Velvet” for short. His backside is the perfect combination of old and new school with a powerful bottom turn and vertical blast that he combines with fluidity. On his front side he has his disco moves down and has been busting out air reverses on demand, combined with speed and flair.

December 2014: Holden Wayholdin surfing

Holden might be one of the most determined kids I’ve ever met. Not only is he improving extremely fast, he helps the other kids improve too.  In other words Holden is one of those kids who starts all these little competitions; who can paddle the fastest and who can catch the most waves. Although instead of trying to win at all costs Holden stops and see who needs help paddling out.
Holden is constantly jumping over mental hurdles. Whether the waves are big or it’s too windy Holden will find a way; by the end of the day he’ll be smiling and most likely will have caught one of the longer waves of the day.

November 2014: Gabriel Kaftori

Photo Oct 29, 4 15 46 PM

Gabe is one of the most admirable kids I’ve ever met. Gabe has had multiple surgeries on his right leg. What’s amazing is that he doesn’t let this problem define him. Gabe comes to stationary camp once a week, and yet he is still by far the most improved surfer. Not only that but Gabe charges.
Before stationary camp moved to Leadbetter beach we were at Santa Clause. One day, there were waves with 5 foot faces thumping on the shore. Everyone stayed on the inside except for a couple of the older kids, around age 10. Eventually all the older kids were over it except one, yep Gabe. Gabe was sitting on the outside with our instructor, Penn. Penn would help get him into the biggest waves of the day. It took me awhile to realize Gabe was charging down the face of these five foot waves on one of our soft tops. Pretty impressive for a beginner. Not only that, but once he got into shore he still wanted some more. No matter what the conditions are Gabe always wants some more. Gabe is now paddling into waves on his own and is working on his top turns. Gabe is without a doubt the surfer of the month.

October 2014: Lu Lu Jansen

lulu surfer of the month

Lu Lu is one of Surf Happens youngest surfers. Lu Lu is three years old and first started surfing only a couple months back. She stood up on her very first wave with Glennie Rodgers! On September 22nd at Stationary Camp Lu Lu was even paddling by herself for awhile. She is fearless and more importantly ambitious. She is always ready for another wave despite her age. With this much growth at such a young age in only a couple months, Lu Lu will be a great surfer in no time.

JesseFreelandMarch 2014 : Jesse Freeland
Surfing Since May 2013

Jesse is what you would call stoked out of his gourd. He lives, breathes, and eats surfing and would have tubes for dinner if he could. In just under a year surfing he has gone from a long haired kid on a softboard to a buzz headed ripper who can pull top turns and get in the barrel. This passion is going to take him far and we are honoring his achievements this month.

WilliamSchulhofApril 2014 : William “Schully” Schulhof

Surfing Since July 2013

From the first day that Schully attended surf camp last summer we knew that he was going to be an amazing addition to the Surf Happens crew. After being instructed on the rules of camp and introduced to our jersey system, he quickly began theorizing how he could skip levels and jump up the ladder. Before ever attempting to stand on a surfboard he understood that if he could get barreled and do an air reverse he would be instantly promoted to yellow and has been working on his skills ever since.

9 months later Schully has jumped up the ladder and landed as the poster boy for our upcoming full page ad in the Santa Barbara Independent’s summer camp guide issue publishing ThursdayApril 17. His spirit and positive demeanor make him a favorite among instructors and students alike and we see big things for him in the future wherever he applies his energy.

Look for our full page ad (left), featuring William in the 2014 “Camp Guide” issue of the Santa Barbara Independent!

GavinEastonFebruary 2014 : Gavin Eason
Age 10, Surfing Since January 2010

After three and a half years of hard work learning the ropes of competitive surfing, and refining his skills, team rider Gavin Eason clinched his first NSSA Gold Coast Conference title at the regular season finale at Ventura Harbor held on Sunday January 26.

Heading into the final two events of the season Eason held a nice lead with only one surfer who could have caught him. With three event wins to his name he was only one win shy of his 2013-2014 goal of winning four regular season events, and the main thing standing in his way besides competitors were the solid 4-8 foot powerful peaks that slammed onto the sand bar. After getting washed inside during the first three heats of the day he was determined to make it out the back and make it happen. Illustrating great poise he let the sets conclude and was the last into the line up but first into position. He proceeded to link solid carves and top turns together to win the final event of the season after which he was chaired up the beach by good friends and fellow team riders Curtis & Hamilton Jacobs and Cayden Colasse among others.

He was then voted as the NSSA surfer of the week and featured on their national website nssa.org.

SurfHappensAt2December 2013 : Maddox James Keet
Nickname: “Maddo”
Age 2,  DOB 06/23/11

Claim to fame: Maddox first hit the water on a surfboard at 3 months old on the south and north shores of Oahu while vacationing with mom and dad. He began riding waves on his stomach at one year and four days old.  After his second summer surfing prone, frequenting Santa Claus Lane, Leadbetter, Rincon, and Emma Wood, he decided to start stand up surfing a few weeks ago and was hooked!

CurtisJacobsOctober 2013 : Curtis & Hamilton Jacobs

Curty and Hammy as they are affectionately referred to are the real deal. They show up and are ready to blow up in anything and everything that they do. The dynamic duo first surfed in the summer of 2010 and were the two bravest five year olds that we had ever seen. At the time the boys had matching rat tails and were dead set on tackling the overhead waves, and even more determined to out due each other.

Now some four years later they have shed their rat tails in exchange for friendly brotherly snakes whenever possible. Curtis, who will always hold the title of being born first, illustrated new found focus and skills ripping his way to a solid fourth place finish in the season opener of the NSSA Goldcoast at C-Street in the mini groms. His bottom turn is beginning to link into his top turns and soon the beach will have to have umbrellas to shield themselves from the spray. He also made two finals at the Surf Happens Summer Surfari event, defeating kids 3-4 years his senior.

Hamilton also brought the ammo and won the Surf Happens Summer Surfari 11 and under division as well as most inspirational performance taking home a pin tail Channel Islands surfboard for his efforts. His backside lip slam is the best we have seen since a young Parker Coffin, and his recent runner up and third place finishes at the last two events of the NSSA Goldcoast are just a hint at where he is headed.

I think the best part about these brothers, is that they may be competitive, but they are also supportive, well mannered and just straight up have fun. Whether they are skate boarding, trampolining, surfing, or just hanging out, their laughter is contagious, and smiling is good.

HarryPowersMay 2013 : Harry Powers

Harry is one of those kids that is a coaches dream to work with. He listens carefully to tips and then diligently sets his focus on the task at hand, but is not afraid to ask questions when he needs further assistance. His quiet demeanor translates into action in the water with his primary focus being on improvement. He also supports all of his friends that he surfs with and rarely boasts about his growing skills.

Recently Harry has mastered his bottom turn and is starting to pull floaters, cutt backs and off the lips. He has been a member of the Surf Happens family since January and is now setting his sights on competing next year, traveling to new spots and enjoying surfing with his friends. Good job Harry!!


April 2013 : Eve Newton

When Eve first came surfing with Coach Thomas Oretsky nearly a year ago, she had never been in the ocean before. Her initial reaction was one of joy, and after getting smashed by a wave, more than just a little fear.

After her wipe out she ran around the point at Leadbetter and made Tom chase her while using all of his coaching skills to get her to jump back into the water. We weren’t sure that she would come back, but boy she sure did. Eve spent most of the summer 2012 at Surf Happens surf camps and became our team Gromina sharing her smile and passion for the ocean with instructors and students alike. From their, she has blossomed into a talented young surfer with style and skills, sharing that same great smile at After School Program, and with friends.

MattyPierceMarch 2013 : Matty Pierce

Matty Pierce is one of the coolest kids we know. His nickname, “Mr. Smiles” saysit all. He is humble, respectful, and always supports all of the other groms. On top of that, he rips and has been racking up the results in the water and showcasing great style in his free surfs.

At the last SSS event at C-street Matty boogied his way to 1st place in the Body Board division showing his team spirit for SBJH, while on the shortboard side he has consistently been making the finals in the NSSA and even took out the number 1 & 2 seeds Eithan Osborne and Tommy Mckeown in overhead peaks at the Rivermouth. Keep up the great work bud!

AdamHogueFebruary 2013 : Adam Hogue

After a slow start to the season Adam shook off his slump and took the competitive bull by the horns at the SSS make up event at C-street on February 2 making his first finals appearances of the year. Adam challenged the head high peaks with powerful frontside carves and last minute heroics to place 2nd in the boys shortboard, and 3rd in the longboard.

PoppyJanuary 2013 : Poppy Brittingham

Poppy has been on a rampage in the 2012-13 SSS contest series going undefeated in the first three events in the girls shortboard becoming the first Crane student in the history of the program to win 3 consecutive events. She has also taken 1st, 2nd, and 2nd in the Longboard division. Staying humble and working hard is helping take Poppy to the next level. You go girl!