It is a peculiar statement when people call a place the so-and-so of another place. Like when surfers call somewhere “the Hawaii of…” It’s like when non-surfers call one place the Paris of so-and-so. The Paris in that situation is usually equated to culture and in the surfer’s case the Hawaii in that situation is usually equated to an island, heavier surf and blue water. And though the six young surfers — Tyler Killeen, Andrew Jacobson, Micah Cantor, Che Allen, Cole Houshmand and Cam Richards immersed themselves in Puerto Rico (a land known as the East Coast’s Hawaii) beyond the water, Puerto Rico is Puerto Rico and nothing else. Because Hawaii has volcanoes, ahi poke, SPAM musubi and waterfalls. While Puerto Rico speaks Spanish, has old forts, reggaeton, iguanas…and also waterfalls.
To the six young surfers, however, this was all just semantics. When you’re not even 18 yet — as these six kids are — any new place is fresh and thrilling and full of possibility, and call it whatever you want to, the boys are just trying to surf. And surf they did.
The six of them stayed at Dylan and Josie Graves’ pad near a golf course next to a handful of slabby, wedging beach breaks. Dylan Graves, by the way, is kind of like the Dane Reynolds of Puerto Rico. Shit, there I go again… But basing out of the Graves’ home, and in between forgetting to wash dishes and straighten up after themselves (grommets, right?), the boys found this time of the year (Spring) to be quite uncrowded on the Enchanted Isle. So uncrowded at the countless rampy, wind-kissed wedges that Cam Richards, the Cory Lopez of South Carolina, had no problem punting, like, four dozen tail-high air-reverses and full-rotations. The kid literally stacked enough clips for a solid surf flick section.
Micah and Andrew traded licks with Cam too, the three of them going tit-for-tat in Puerto Rico’s definitive electric blue “air waves”. Air waves, by the way, are the skate ramps of the wave world. Che Allen kept it on a rail and on his backhand showed the boys how to do his best Pete Mendia. (Hint: it involves a lot of spray and perfect form.) And though San Clemente’s young Cole Houshmand was under the weather some of the trip, the kid still managed to snag a few draining beachbeak barrels.
But perhaps the best part about this trip, as some special surf trips go, is how the waves just got better and better with each day, peaking on the very last one. Indeed the six grommets rode the air-wind in front of the Graves’ pad — and then eventually rode the wind back to their own homes. But most importantly, none of them will remember Puerto Rico as the so-and-so of anywhere; they will remember Puerto Rico fondly as its own singular place. They’ll remember the narrow roads with whacky drivers, the salty sea air and the delicious Cuban sandwiches and pork chops for dinner and impromptu baseball games and each peculiar wave all different in their own way. Like any place, really.
CREATORS & INNOVATORS
Photography by Kenny Hurtado