|Claim to Fame:
||It was another big week of NSSA action on the May 15-16 weekend where the 20/21 Gold Coast Conference Explorer Season opener was held at Ventura’s C Street “Pipe” surf break. Pipe is predominately a right hander breaking on a cobblestone reef with some good lefts sneaking through. A whole slew of groms scored some great results in the doubleheader including young Santa Cruz shredder Max St. Denis. The 12-year-old goofyfooter has been showing tremendous promise competing in the Northwest Conference the past few years but this season his skill level goes up a notch every time he puts on the jersey. His NSSA journey started at the close of the 2017/18 NW season where he competed in the Explorer Super Grom 10 & under and Menehuene 12 & under divisions. “My first contest was at Pleasure Point, I was nine, and I did both 12U Menehuene and 10U Super Grom division,” Max said. “I think I was put out in the first round in both. I had fun though, there was a good vibe.” The following 2018/19 season Max was back and at 10-years-old he was at the top of the age bracket in the Open Mini Grom and Explorer Super Grom divisions. And as he did at his very first contest the season before, Max tested his skills in the upper age 12 & under categories. He leaped to the top of the Northwest Mini Grom and Super Grom divisions winning four contests and taking both season titles. Fast forward to the 2020/21 season and Max has been keeping busy competing in NSSA events up and down the coast and his performances are turning heads. It started this past February when the west coast events were back after a year of contest shutdowns. The Northwest Conference was up and running and Max dusted the cobwebs off, shifted into contest mode and took home impressive double wins in the highly competitive Open Juniors U16 and Explorer Boys U15 divisions at Steamer Lane. To stay sharp and improve contest skills, he has opted to travel down south for more practice and the work is paying off. At the Gold Coast competing in back-to-back contests, Max took command winning both events in the Menehuene division while also making both finals in the Explorer Boys. In the Boys semis he set the heat on fire dropping a massive heat total of 17.67 on wave scores of 9.50 and 8.17. “In the Boys semi-final heat, the waves turned on and I was just in tune with the ocean,” he said. “I got some really fun waves.” Max’s growing level has been fostered by former NSSA standout and Santa Cruz-based professional surfer Austin Smith-Ford and trainer Andre Gioranelli. “Austin has been a great coach,” Max said. “I have been working with him for about a year and a half. I also do group training and workouts with Andre.” Even though contests can be challenging and success rewarding, Max is just enjoying being back in the jersey. “My favorite thing about these contests is we get to surf with no one out in the line up and we get to compete and have fun with friends!” ** WHAT DID YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT THE WAVES AT C STREET? I liked that it is a righthand point break. We have a lot of those in Santa Cruz, and it felt similar to home. AGE YOU STARTED SURFING: I was around 6 years old when I first started surfing, popping up on a boogie board. Then my dad took me out to Capitola after Junior Guards and he pushed me into some waves. SURF CREW: I usually just paddle out to my local break and see a bunch of my friends, so the Pleasure Point crew. LOCAL SPOT: Pleasure Point and the Hook. WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT LIVING IN SANTA CRUZ? Having a cool community and having a variety of different spots to surf. LOCAL HEROES: There are so many surfers from Santa Cruz that I look up to, Austin Smith-Ford, Nat Young, Darryl Virostko. I look up to these guys because they inspire my surfing, and to work hard. FAVORITE PRO SURFERS: Ryan Callinan, Julian Wilson, and Matt Meola because Ryan is goofy, and has a sick style, Julian is smooth and a good contest surfer, and Matt is just insane with his airs. IF YOU COULD SURF LIKE ANYONE IN THE WORLD, WHO WOULD IT BE? Taj Burrow, because he ticks all the boxes, and he has a good style too. FANTASY SUPERPOWER: Knowing where the waves are good and when they will be, and to be able teleport to them. HOBBIES OTHER THAN SURFING: I like to read, draw, and listen to music. IF YOU WERE NOT A COMPETITIVE SURFER WHAT SPORT WOULD YOU PLAY? I would be a baseball player, because I love playing baseball, it was the first sport I got into. SOMETHING PEOPLE DO NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU: I don’t really like chocolate. BARRELS OR AIRS? Both, but airs. DREAM WAVE: Macaronis. WHO HAS PUSHED YOUR SURFING THE MOST? My peers, because if I see them do a sick maneuver I’m like, I need to do one better. THINGS YOU ARE WORKING ON IN YOUR SURFING: I am working on getting more radical, and surfing on my frontside. GOALS FOR 2021: To continue to have fun in my surfing, and to keep progressing. THANK YOUS: My Mom and Dad, my sponsors, Austin Smith-Ford and Andre Gioranelli.