Teenagers Surfing Jaws


Add surfing to the list of sports where younger and younger teenagers are pushing the limits. Jordan Romero's summit of Everest led to questions about age and mountaineering. A crew of teens besting each other on round-the-world sailing trips led to debates on whether parents should let their kids tackle such long and dangerous trips alone. Now, Matt Higgins of ESPN explores the issue of age on big waves off of Maui.

As the day wore on, the crowds on the cliffs watched a scene with approximately 20 Jet Skis, three helicopters, several boats with film crews in the channel, and a guy attempting to catch 30-foot waves on water skis. A half-dozen skinny teenagers had ditched school to be there, too, ripping on some of the biggest surf of the day. They included 16-year-old Tyler Larronde; Joao Marco Maffini, 15; and the youngest, a 4-foot-10, 100-pound eighth-grader named Chaz Kinoshita.

“They want to push it,” says Dave Kalama, 46, Hamilton's longtime tow partner. “They'll position themselves to put it all on the line. So in that sense, they are very aggressive. Their first few waves, their first couple swells, were so much more significant than our first few waves and our first couple swells. Their jumping off point is a lot further up the mountain.”

But some wonder whether the youngest, often towed into waves by their fathers, are ready.

Check out Higgins' article for some perspective of big-wave surfing and age.Then tell us what you think. How young is too young for surfing a 30-footer?

–Joe Spring