Youth – Tom Caen

California dreams and sweet, sweet wedges.
Above: Arguably the nicest wedges we’ve ran in the mag in 2014. Photo: Chris Allen

The first Youth rider from the pages of issue #199 is 18-year-old Tom Caen from Ventura, California. We’ll let Tom pick up the tale.

Here it goes: I was born in Paris and immediately moved to California before I could even tell the difference between a croissant and a bagel. Shortly after I turned 13, and had been kinda surfing for a few months, my dad bought me a Morey at Costco. I’ve been hooked ever since!

Growing up in the Golden State is great. We have nice weather, hot babes, and tons of fun waves… sometimes. Although many things flourish here, bodyboarding’s hard to adopt. Paddling out at a good beachbreak in Southern California on a hot day is like trying to cross a river infested with crocs. You have 50 surfers dropping on every bomb, while they only see you as a mere speed bump.

chris allen tom caen
TC. Photo: Chris Allen

I was part of the Malibu High School Surf Team, which gave me a serious hunger for competition. I owe much of my success as a competitor to my friend and coach Mike Moss. Without that team I may have given up on bodyboarding altogether. I had to win every contest I was part of. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I loved the fire I felt every time a heat started. Spending time on the beach in between heats with the team is something I’ll never forget. Thanks to them I managed to stay on the podium during the 2011-14 seasons in the Los Angeles-Santa Barbara division.

My local break is Westward Beach in Malibu. That wave has to be my favourite when it’s on and will forever be a part of my riding. It’s heavy, fast and all the locals are humble with some serious barrel time under their belts. The crew is full of good guys and I owe it to them for pushing me and giving me some serious nugs over the years! I look up to a few guys out there like my boy Bobby Henderson, Bruno Salazar, Noah Bryan, and guys from the 805 like Julien “Speedy” Durand, Thomas Gaulke, David Schaub, Arec Colon-Aldeguer and Wedge killer, Seabass Perez, of course!

IMG 0933
Dat wedge. Photo: Marc Goodnough

Southern California consists 90 per cent of beach breaks. The populated nature of the coast here led to the construction of many harbours and jetties that often create fun man-made wedges that we’re known for. As far as variety goes, if you look hard enough, you can find some seriously heavy bedrock type waves like Mavericks, or some super fun beachies that can get sick on the good days. 

If I had to choose a couple of favourite riders… I’d say PLC is my favourite! I just find his riding to be so smooth and, well, those backflips are just unreal. On the other hand, Lewy Finnegan is up there as well. He’s super young and kills it. I’d love to surf with those guys some day!

IMG 0940Photo: Marc Goodnough

Bodyboarding here on the mainland definitely slowed down in recent years. I think that when you live here as a grom and are surrounded by that stand-up culture it’s pretty hard to choose bodyboarding. Your average grom knows who Kelly Slater is, but has never heard of guys like Ben Player or Jeff Hubbard. I think the scene would kick off again if more companies opened shops here or set up a proper California Tour with good spots that could show off our sport the way it’s supposed to be; in heavy and rampy waves! When the support and circuit grows the youth catch on and evolve into world-class riders, I thank Alt Surf and 662 for being some of the best and only shops here in California. They’re helping tons at keeping us all supplied with what we need to bodyboard here.

In the future I’d love to compete on a serious tour. My ultimate goal would be to surf some insane places like Fronton! But I could probably go anywhere and be happy, as long as I’m getting some shade on the boog. Thanks to my dad and sister for always supporting my riding and all my friends who push me in and out of the water.

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