Eight-year-old surfer Maui Barrenientos has always been drawn to the water.
“I’ve been teaching him how to surf since he was two years old,” said Marten Barrenientos, Maui’s father.
The family was living in Peru, but Barrenientos was in search of a more secure life for his family, and to create more opportunities for his son. Barrenientos explained that the family is half Canadian, so they looked for the best places in Canada for surfing.
“We found Sooke, which is near a lot of good surfing spots, and moved out here about two months ago,” said Barrenientos.
It didn’t take long for Maui to get out on the water; He has already been catching waves at multiple beaches, explaining that he loves going to Sombrio Beach, near Port Renfrew, and Tofino.
Maui’s favourite part about surfing is gliding a long the barrel of a wave.
“I love the barrel of a wave – the way the water moves, curls over and crashes. “It’s an incredible feeling: peaceful and scary all at the same time,” he said.
Barrenientos added that it is very difficult to surf inside a barrel, and is dangerous because the water is generally more shallow and near a reef where it curls over.
“Sometimes it’s overwhelming I think. Because he knows if he makes one wrong move, or even turns his board in the slightest, he can fall and be pulled in with the wave,” said Barrenientos as he revealed a scar on Maui’s face from a time he got caught under the water.
“It took Maui four years to be able to get in a barrel. It’s not an easy thing to do.”
Maui trains more than 10 hours a week, whether he’s out on the water, at the skate park, or practicing his skills on the ground.
“It’s a dance,” Maui explained as he playfully demonstrated how to pop up on a board, do a “surfer squat,” and move his body to ride a wave.
“I’ve had to train a lot. To surf, you use muscles that people normally wouldn’t use, so it was hard to get used to at first.”
To improve his skills, Maui also practices yoga and martial arts twice a week.
“The yoga and martial arts teach him discipline, balance, and how to stay calm and in control of his emotions,” said Barrenientos.
Maui recently competed at an international competition in Tofino and placed second out of 11 other surfers in the Under 12 division.
“He didn’t think he was going to do well that day, because the waves were so powerful and he had to paddle so much. But he had three really good rides,” said Barrenientos. “Maui is very focused when he competes. He loves it.”
The next competition Maui hopes to compete at is the 2018 Rip Curl Gromsearch Series in California and Florida, so that he can attract sponsors. Once he is 12 years old, he plans to try out for the national team and go to the Olympics.
“I want to be a world champion,” said Maui.