Barrelin’ Ahead: Mira Costa’s Noah Collins commands respect in his first South Bay Surf League season

surf

Noah Collins stalling for the barrel at the Hermosa pier this winter. Photo by Brad Jacobson (CivicCouch.com)

Everyone involved with the South Bay High School Surf League is talking about Noah Collins. They say the Mira Costa High freshman is better than Costa alum Dayton Silva, currently the number one ranked college surfer in the NSSA. He’s being compared to Palos Verdes High alum Alex Gray, an alternate to this year’s Quiksilver Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational.

At 5-foot-4, 120 pounds, the 15-year-old goofy-footer looks like Hawaiian pro Derek Ho. Collins lives in Manhattan Beach and surfs everyday, no matter what the waves are like. His favorite local spots are 26th Street and Rosecrans where he and fellow Costa team members Cody Stamos, Kyle Brown and Wyatt Boyd work on their progressive styles.

“We always work on something radical for the next contest. We love pushing each other to see who gets the longest tube ride or the highest air,” Collins said.

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Noah Collins and dad George show off Noah’s swag after he won the South Bay Board Riders Club 14 and under division last winter. Photo by Mike BalzerNoah Collins. Photo by Mike BalzerNoah and his father George at the SBBRC contest. Noah Collins stalling for the barrel at the Hermosa pier this winter. Photo by Brad Jacobson (CivicCouch.com)Noah Collins copying Mike Purpus' roundhouse cutback.Noah Collins buries the rail while baring his fins. Photo by Brad Jacobson (CivicCouch.com)Noah Collins in his favorite position.x61

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His favorite not so local spot is Trestles.

“Lower Trestles suits my style. You can do all the maneuvers on every wave. I know all the local kids from San Clemente and Huntington Beach that are there when the waves are good,” he says.

Collins rides 5-foot-3 and 5-foot-5 surfboards made by Roberts in Ventura. He’s already sponsored by Body Glove, Spyder, Free Style Watches, Sanuk Shoes, Waterman’s Sun Screen, Sector 9 Skateboards, Waxy Wax and Dakine.

Collins started surfing when he was nine when his dad George took him out at Waikiki Beach on a 9-foot-4 Willie Grace Surfboard.

“I didn’t like surfing very much. I rode a body board for awhile before jumping on a big, ugly, green soft top of my very own at El Porto,” he said.

His indifference to the sport turned to enthusiasm when he discovered it came naturally to him. At 12, he was surfing in the NSSA Explorers Surfing Championships at Church’s, next to Lower Trestles. Since then Noah has been a consistent WSA finalist up and down the coast. Last summer, he won the South Bay Boardriders Club contest series 14-and-under division.

In his spare time, he skateboards and snowboards.

“After his homework is done,” his father interjected.

Collins said his local influences include Body Glove team riders Matt Pagen and Dane Zaun, Spyder’s Chris Browan, and fellow Mustang Kelly Zaun. He likes surfing around them, trying to match their airs, carves, cutbacks and tube rides.

Among the top ranked pros, his influences include CJ Hobgood, whose fluid style he admires, and Taj Burrow for his power surfing.

In the high school contests, Collins always looks for the big, semi close-out tube. He strives to get deeper than anyone else and still get spit out. He said making a long tube ride is 20 percent skill, 30 percent just hanging on and 50 percent luck. When the tube isn’t an option, he’s usually setting his rail deep in the face while carving so deep that his tail slides into the rest of his turn.

Collins has surfed Hawaii and gotten good waves in Costa Rica and Mexico’s Cabo San Lucas. Next, he wants to surf Bali, Fiji and the Galapagos Islands. “I’ve seen some sick shots of some awesome left barrels there,” he said.

His natural skills, notwithstanding, he’s learned the ocean demands respect.

One day, during the big winter swells of 2010, he paddled out at El Porto.

“It was a cold, overcast, drizzly day in January and the locals couldn’t believe I was in the water trying to make it out. The shore break was 6-foot and almost impossible to get through. The current in the middle, between the shore break and the outside, was like the Colorado Rapids. It dragged me all over the place, but after 20 minutes of paddling I thought I was going to finally make it out, right behind local surfer Edger Barroga. Then a 12-foot set popped up. Edgar shifted gears leaving me in his wake. I barely scratched over the first two monsters, but the third one caught me with no place to go.

“I was a fool to try and duck-dive. It just made things worse. I got tossed around like a rag doll in a washing machine, using up all my air. My board was tomb-stoning and my leash was stretched to the limit. I climbed up to the surface to see a relieved Edgar and a bigger wave behind us. Edgar said the wave was over 13 feet. I just swam to the bottom leaving my board at the surface. When I finally came up I was halfway to the beach. I left the water looking like a half drowned cat that somebody threw in the swimming pool.”

I asked Noah what his favorite surfing maneuver is. He said it’s the roundhouse cutback. “It’s two maneuvers in one. It’s a radical back to the tube cutback with a backside roller coaster on the end,” he said.

“You’re just saying that because I invented it,” I said to him.

His big brown eyes lit up.

“Wait a minute, you invented the roundhouse?”

Noah’s dad George smiled and said “Yes he did.”

George used to surf with my Hot Lips team in front of Doc’s in the early ‘70s.

Mike Purpus was a former world ranked professional surfer and a South Bay Surf League judge.



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