By Andrea Swayne
Taj Lindblad, 12, of San Clemente marked an important milestone in his surf career Saturday when he made it into his first ever Surfing America Prime series final in the U14 division and a fourth-place finish in the event.
“I am super stoked,” he said. “I have been working hard and finally did it. It felt great because I was worried about qualifying for next year so I was really happy to make that first heat.”
He kept the momentum going throughout the event and on one of his best waves of the day, Taj was able to link his ride through from the outside earning a 6.8-point wave.
On my best wave in Round 1, I did a cutback and a hit on the outside and then made it to the inside and did a couple more hits,” he said. “I really liked the four-man priority format at this contest because you don’t have to worry about people being on the inside of where you are; you can just go. It’s fun.”
Taj also competes in NSSA and SSS events as a part of the Shorecliffs Middle School surf team.
School is a priority for Taj, as good grades translate into being allowed more time surfing. This year, the bright sixth-grader earned a 4.0 GPA in the first quarter, 3.83 in quarters two and three, and is giving it his best to finish out the year with another 4.0.
Taj has been surfing since he was a toddler and a professional career has been on his radar since he started competing.
“My dad put me on a little foam board when I was 2 and used to hold my hand while I rode whitewash,” he said. “That’s when I started, but I really got into it when I was about 7 and started surfing every day. I really liked the feeling of it, being free. Now, I put a lot of hard work into it because I really want to do the WSL qualifying series.”
Taj would like to thanks his sponsors, Quiksilver, Oakley, Lost Surfboards and Modom Traction, along with his family and coach Neco Padaratz for their support.
TRAVEL: Taj went to Hawaii twice this year and will travel to Nicaragua with the Quiksilver team in June for training and photos.
TRAINING: “I’m really working on a bending my knees more, doing more powerful turns and getting more vertical.”
LIFE IN SC: “I love living in San Clemente because there are so many pro surfers here and watching and surfing with them helps me to improve. It’s cool to bump into them around town too, like at the grocery store and stuff.”
EQUIPMENT: “I am riding a 4’10” V2 high-performance shortboard and a grovel board that’s a 4’8” V3 Rocket by Matt Biolos.”