Fifteen-year-old Chad Bruce picked up a surfboard when he was just eight years old. Now, seven years later, the Scituate teen will compete in the 2011 Eastern Surfing Championships in North Carolina.
It’s a coveted spot, and a thrilling contest, Bruce said, who has been competing in the sport since he was 10.
Riding against over 450 surfers from Maine to Southern New Jersey this past weekend, Bruce placed first in boys short-board division and 2nd in menehune long-board division during the qualifying competition in the Eastern Surfing Association’s Northeast Regional Championships in Middletown, RI.
But the high school freshman at South Shore Charter Public School in Norwell isn’t nervous for the upcoming competition. In fact, he’s pretty thrilled.
“The contest is really fun, and it’s good to watch. You get better just by watching almost,” Bruce said. “All the best kids are there, so it’s a challenge."
Bruce recalled starting out when his father paddled him out on his long board and pushed him into waves. His dad had surfed as a hobby, and started taking the teen out on the water to share the sport. Soon, Bruce was going out on his own.
Although this past qualifying round was difficult, Bruce says his success came from going into it prepared.
“I’ve been [surfing] for awhile, and I’ve been competing for a long time. This competition I felt I prepared pretty well. It was tough, I had some hard heats and was lucky to get out of them so easily. I won the first few and advanced to the final, but I felt I prepared for them pretty well,” he said.
This isn’t Bruce’s first time at the competition. He has qualified for the past four years in a row. And much to the surprise of coastal inhabitants, he gets ready for the competitions on South Shore beaches.
According to Bruce, not only are the waves here huge, but the surfing culture riding along them is as well.
“There is a group of surfers in the Marshfield and Scituate area,” he said. “I don’t have any friends my age that I surf with, but there are a bunch of people that surf really well to where we are, and they push everybody else.”
Now, after having gotten through the first round, Bruce is looking forward to September, when he’ll compete in the waters off Cape Hatteras.
“I’ll take surfing any other day. I’d rather do that than anything else,” he said. “And I love competing a lot. It keeps it interesting, keeps it from getting boring. I like competing and I like to surfing, and they go well together.”