Malakai Martínez

Howler Magazine - - Surfing Costa Rica - by Ellen Zoe Golden

When the World Surf League sent out pho­tos from the Ban­zai Pipe­line Pro Ju­niors Qual­i­fy­ing Se­ries (QS), some of them fea­tured a diminu­tive fig­ure about to be cov­ered by tubes of 10 to 12 feet. That was Malakai Martínez, whose free surf­ing ex­pe­ri­ences dur­ing re­cent win­ter vis­its to Hawaii's North Shore had won him an in­vi­ta­tion to par­tic­i­pate in the pres­ti­gious young surfers' event. Martinez went on to surf spec­tac­u­larly in the Pipe Pro Ju­niors, earn­ing a fourth-place fin­ish in the end.

The fi­nal fin­ish was Martínez' best QS re­sult to date, although two years ago he won the 14 and Un­der Grom na­tional cham­pi­onship of

North Amer­ica in Cal­i­for­nia. Ear­lier that year, he snatched a nice prize for the Best Ma­neu­ver at the Quik­sil­ver Young Guns, at a dif­fer­ent Cal­i­for­nia break. But, some­times, Martínez just goes out and pad­dles into the big­gest waves he can find, such as those at To­dos San­tos, off the coast of Baja, Mex­ico, and, the smaller, but fun ones, of course at home in Ta­marindo.

“I love surf­ing the big waves,” he says. “There is a big dif­fer­ence in these kinds of waves. I don't have to time to de­cide what to do. Sure, I had fear in the begin­ning be­cause I didn't know what to ex­pect. I learned that big waves are not what I thought. Sure, they were a lot scarier at first, but I re­al­ized I needed to just take them on and not think about it too much even though I was ner­vous. Once out, it was eas­ier for me to process that I was just there, and to just go for it and get on the best ones.”

Martínez's surf style is pow­er­ful and pre­cise. He stays calm and cool in a heat, and in no hurry. Then he catches that wave he waited for so pa­tiently, and goes off the charts. You could say he makes more airs than most, or in the big ones, just cruises eas­ily in­side the bar­rel. Then, he sim­ply pad­dles back out to do it all over again.

At 17 years old, this su­per charger's na­tional ac­com­plish­ments al­ready in­clude spots on the top 10 na­tional ju­nior surf team, ap­pear­ing in places

Martínez’s surf style is pow­er­ful and pre­cise.

like Hyuga, Ja­pan. At home, Martínez has been the na­tional mini-grom­mets, grom­mets, and boys cham­pion. In Gua­nacaste, he just be­came the 2018 pro­vin­cial ju­nior cham­pion.

“I've worked hard my whole life: 100 per­cent ded­i­ca­tion, clean liv­ing and lots of prac­tice,” Martínez says. “Even when I don't want to get out there just to train in all con­di­tions, I think I want to be the best, and do this pro­fes­sion­ally one day — maybe the CT (Cham­pi­onship Tour) — so I go do it.”

Malakai has no fear of charg­ing the big waves. He grabbed some cover to place 4th at thePipe Pro Ju­niors, his best QS re­sult to date.Pho­tos: WSL/ Mike Ch­lala

Photo: BADFish

Ath­lete: Malakai Martínez Sport: Surf­ingAge: 17About:Pow­er­ful, young surfer as com­fort­able in big waves as he is mak­ing airs off smaller slopes. Loves fam­ily, school and of course, surf­ing.

Slid­ing down the mas­sive 10-12 foot waves of the Banzi Pipe­line. Photo: WSL/ Mike Ch­lala

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