The 15-year-old everyone’s watching at Mavericks

By Neal Kearney

Matt CavacoPhoto (1)

Photo: Matt Cavaco

Surfing Mavericks when it’s pumping is one of surfing’s utmost challenges. The surfer goes up against freezing cold water, distracting crowds, the ever-present danger of a shark encounter … and, of course, widow-making waves that can leave them battered, bruised and gasping for air.

Imagine the skill and courage it takes to put oneself over the ledge, deep in the bowl on a 30-foot wave. Now imagine someone mastering this rare ability years before they are old enough to obtain a driver’s license. It’s a small and illustrious crew that has done so, comprised of such legends as Jay Moriarity, Anthony Tashnick and Nic Lamb. Recently added to their ranks is Luca Padua, a 14-year-old charger from El Granada who has been turning heads this season with his fearless approach to arguably the world’s most menacing wave.

Former Mavericks Invitational surfer Tim West, also from El Granada, noticed Padua’s drive when he was just 12 and started to mentor the young goofy-footer. “I told him to graduate from the jetty, our local grom spot, and to join me at some bigger spots,” West says. “From there he mastered the 9’8″ gun I let him borrow and just after [he turned] 13, we went out to Mavs.” At a venue where there are few true locals, Padua is about as close as they get, living just three miles away. He has all the skill, commitment and support needed to enter the echelon of Maverick’s greatest surfers. “He has the look in his eyes like that of only a select few,” West says. “The community of Half Moon Bay is very stoked for Luca every time he paddles out representing our region, [he’s] like Steph Curry is to the Warriors.”

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Photo: Marco Arellano


-Luca_kelly_2-2(these are good tube shots, but a bit soft - use all as smaller images)

Photo: Oliver Keeten


Age: 14

Stance: Goofy

Local Break: Mavericks

Sponsors: Rip Curl, Reef, Stay Covered, Retap, Powerlines Productions, Proof Lab

Started surfing: “At 8 years old during Junior Lifeguards.”

Favorite Board: 9’1” Stu Kenson (Shawn Dollar template)

Most memorable surf trip: “Costa Rica. [There were] sick waves and it was my first time surfing in warm water.”

Favorite surfer: “John John [Florence], because he can do it all!”

Favorite Mavs surfer: “It’s got to be a tie between Manny Resano and Tyler Fox. They are both goofy-foot so I can visualize myself doing what they do and they both charge large and have sick styles.”

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Padua steep and deep on an ominous day at his favorite spot. Photo: Pompermayer


Photo: Fred Pompermayer


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