This Santa Cruz 12-year-old is a Ripper
By Kevin Painchaud
As the fog was gently settling down on the Steamers Lane, I sat on a bench in front of the lighthouse interviewing a bright-eyed, blond haired 12-year-old ripper named Jackson Taylor. He had just won the Santa Cruz Waves Swellies award for best “Grom Boy under 16 surfer.”
He’s 12 and goes to New Brighton Middle School.
KP: Tell me about your family history in Santa Cruz.
JT: We’re a third generation family for surfers. My grandpa grew up here. He started shaping boards for people and started surfing more. Then my dad came along and he was a very good surfer. He loved the competitions and was doing good in those.
KP: Is your family supportive of you surfing and skating?
JT: They are very supportive. If I ever need to go out and train, they always take me out and watch me and help me get better.
KP: How old were you when you started surfing?
JT: I was 3 or 4 years old.
KP: Where did you first learn how to surf?
JT: I learned how to surf and a place called Gnomes by Pleasure Point.
KP: When did you start skateboarding?
JT: I started skateboarding when I was 5.
KP: Which do you like more? Surfing or Skating?
JT: I like surfing more because if I fall I don’t really get hurt and you can keep trying more tricks but if you’re skateboarding and you eat it you can get really hurt.
KP: At what age did you become serious about surfing?
JT: Probably around 8 or 9 when i did my first NSSA competition. I got really into it because I was doing it with my friends and we kept on pushing each other to do better.
KP: How often do you compete?
JT: I compete in every NSSA competition on both the east side and the west side. I might compete in regionals this year.
KP: What do you like about surfing?
JT: My favorite thing about surfing is just flowing with the waves and being in the ocean. My favorite thing about skating is the amount of speed and flow that you can get when you’re skating around the park.
KP: What’s your least favorite thing about surfing?
JT: I can’t think of anything I don’t like about surfing. It’s just a super fun sport.
KP: Are you currently sponsored? And if you are, by whom?
JT: I’m sponsored by Taylor Surfboards, O’Neill Surf Shop, Reef, DaKine, Volcom, Rainbow Fins, Sector 9, and Von Zipper.
KP: What would you like the future to be like for Jackson Taylor?
JT: If I can, and I keep training, I’d love to become a pro surfer.
KP: What do you recommend to other kids that want to learn how to surf?
JT: I’d recommend going to Costco and buying a soft top surfboard and go down to 38 and catch some of the white washes out there.