Spiess rides wave of success to third at state

Spiess rides wave of success to third at state

For Makaiah Spiess (12), the beach offers him a place to relax, to have a good time, and to surf. It’s his second home. Two or three times during the week and all throughout the weekends, he paddles out into the ocean to ride the waves.

Spiess got his first taste of the ocean when he was 4. When Spiess was growing up, his dad often went to the ocean, and one day, he took Spiess out to the beach and started push¬ing him into the waves to get a feel for the water.

The two kept returning to the beach, with Spiess learning to surf on his own. As he grad¬ually gained more experience, Spiess began buying new boards to practice with.

From then on, Spiess has embraced surfing as not only a hobby, but as an integral part of his lifestyle, and he has continued pushing himself in the water.

In sixth grade, Spiess began surfing in com¬petitions for his middle school in the Scholas¬tic Surf Series (SSS). His first year, he didn’t place in any competitions. But, with practice over the years, he eventually began winning contests and has continued to improve his skills, which has garnered him many spon¬sors.

“In recent times, I’ve been surfing 10 times better than last year, so [my skills have] defi¬nitely been progressing every year,” Spiess said. Spiess has refined his craft to the point where he finished in third place at the SSS High School State Championships at Oceanside Harbor, April 23, which brought together 120 surfers across California. Going in, Spiess was already ranked second for San Diego’s Division 3 High School Surfing.

“There was a lot of pressure because it’s everybody from the whole state,” Spiess said. “It was hard but I just stuck with my focus and went into finals.”

To prepare, Spiess surfed at Oceanside Harbor the week before the contest to simulate the environment of the competition.

Although he mainly surfs in the Carlsbad area, he also often goes to Oceanside Harbor, which made it easier for him to become accustomed to the waves there.

On the day of the contest, Spiess’ years of effort and experience boiled down to a mere 15 minutes.

Competitors are allowed 15 minutes to catch 10 waves, and the top two waves’ scores are recorded.

“When a wave comes, you have to surf it to get the best moves in on that wave, and most of what the [judges grade you on] is speed, power, and flow,” Spiess said.

Spiess’ choice in moves depends on the situation he is in.

If he’s riding a medium wave and aims to just score well, his go-to moves are snaps, where the surfer rides up from the bottom of the wave and rotates the board around at the top to continue riding the wave.

“[But], if I was going to go for something that I really need to break out a good score, I’d typically go for air reverse, which is a 360 turn in the air,” Spiess said.

For this contest, Spiess used a wide variety of moves, including airs and snaps.

One of the moments that stood out to him was when he had a big snap on a left, along with other smaller moves.

At the end, while Spiess stood there, hearing the names being counted down, the list came to third place and his name was announced.

“I kept hearing the names go from different schools, and finally it got to third place and I was like, ‘These are the best three in the whole state!’ When I heard my name, I was just was super excited,” Spiess said.

For Spiess, his triumphs result from a collective effort and support from the people around him.

“I get a lot of support from my dad, and there’s definitely a lot of friends who support me during the contests,” Spiess said. “We’re all a tight group and do a lot of the contests [together], so we do hang out a lot and everything. My manager and the sponsors help out with everything, so I really have to thank them for that.”

While surfing brings out Spiess’ competitive streak in contests, it also serves as a peaceful getaway.

“Growing up, I had a lot of stuff going on, and I would look to surfing almost for meditation, so just to calm my whole body, just breathe, and have a fun time, so I guess it kind of is my peaceful place,” Spiess said.

Though he views surfing as meditation, Spiess also plans on pursuing a pro career in surfing in the World Qualifying Series, and continuing it in college.

In the meantime, he will be at the beach, waiting for the next waves and seeing where they will take him next.