Catchin’ waves

Family’s legacy brings student to Hawaii for annual surfing competition

Senior Alejandro Cruz is balancing himself on his board after he caught a wave at the Egro/Hi-Tech Lopez Surfer Bash in Hawaii on Nov. 16.

Adrianna Owens

We’ve all seen it: the typical surfing picture. The photographer gets the shot of the surfer inside of the perfect wave. The sunset is coming in through the crystal clear water. The surfer’s hand is skimming the wall of ocean behind him, and the look on his face is accomplishment.

However, when senior Alejandro Cruz is out on the water, he doesn’t always catch the “good” waves. “If you only see it in the magazines, they only show you the ‘good’ waves,” he said. “Sometimes you go out and only get the small waves.”

He has been surfing since his uncle taught him to when he was 10. Because his uncle is a native in Hawaii, Cruz goes to Maui every year to surf.

“We lived in Hawaii for the first two years of my life,” he said. Moving to California didn’t stop him from visiting his uncle on the island and learning how to surf.

“My uncle introduced me to surfing when I was 10,” he said. “It’s just different.”

His face lights up as he talks about the sport. For him, it’s not something that everyone will do. He notices that people don’t understand the sport, and that a lot of people will always think of it as something you see in that “perfect wave” picture.

“Just being out there in the ocean, it’s different,” he said. “I feel peaceful, it’s very relaxing. You feel one with yourself and one with the ocean.”

He takes pride in his accomplishments and recalls the first time that he rode inside of a wave and made it out successfully. “It was my biggest accomplishment.”

Cruz practices in Santa Cruz, but he competes every year or two in Hawaii. Though he loves competing and winning the competitions, he said that nothing can compare to the feeling of coming out of a great wave and knowing that at one point he wasn’t able to do that. He takes pride in knowing that he is improving his technique.

“Doing certain tricks or things you haven’t done is the best feeling ever,” he said.

The sport also serves as a form of bonding between him and his family. Because he doesn’t see his uncle that often, surfing helps the two get closer.

“When you’re out there on the water together it’s different than just going to the movies,” he said. “You’re learning from each other and teaching each other.”

His father is currently learning how to surf, and while the two already have a strong relationship, Cruz is looking forward to bonding through surfing with his dad and uncle.

“It’ll be the three of us out on the water together,” he said.

He wants to continue to surf throughout his life. He was accepted into the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and if he decides to enroll there, he will make trips to the beach whenever he gets the chance.

He admits that when he has children, he will continue on his uncle’s “legacy” and teach them how to surf.

For Cruz, the sport is more than the glossy picture seen in the magazines.

“When you surf, your physical body, your mental body, and the ocean have to be working together,” he said. “When you do succeed, it’s like every part of you is in balance with the earth and to me that’s an amazing feeling.”