By Andrea Swayne
Hagan Johnson, 11, loves surf competition. You can tell by the sheer volume of heat sheets regularly displaying his name. Along with local specialty events, he now competes in the NSSA, WSA and Surfing America Prime. A surfer and a scholar, this ‘A’ and ‘B’ sixth-grader also competes in the SSS as part of the Shorecliffs Middle School surf team.
“I like to compete because it’s challenging,” Hagan said. “There are really good surfers in all the divisions I do, but I really like surfing up.”
Surfing up in last weekend’s NSSA Open at Newport Beach, Nov. 22 and 23, Hagan hit a milestone in his amateur career—making the finals in the Open Juniors division among surfers 15 and under. He ended the event in fourth place but said he felt most satisfied with his semifinal heat.
“I came out ahead of some really good surfers in my semi—Ryland Rubens and Eithan Osborne,” he said. “It wasn’t easy. They both had over 16 points. I was thinking that I should just try my best because I really didn’t have anything to lose in that division.”
Hagan went all out and it worked.
“I was doing super critical turns in the pocket,” he said. “I wasn’t going for a bunch of little snaps; I was doing big power hacks and stuff. Getting to the finals makes me more confident against the older guys.”
Hagan really enjoys doing as many events as he can because he knows they provide the building blocks toward a future pro career.
His next event will be WSA Event No. 5 at the San Clemente Pier, Dec. 6 and 7.
“I am looking forward to going out there and trying to win,” Hagan said. “I surfed there a lot when I was younger so I know the wave really well. Also, hometown contests are cool because so many of my friends will be there and it’s a lot of fun.”