When Owen Moss stood on the top podium Sunday after the 12th annual O’Neill Sweetwater Pro-Am surf tournament, a crowd at the beach saw him hoist the trophy for his first place finish in boys under-14 shortboard.
But Moss, 13, a Wilmington-based surfer representing Sweetwater Surf Shop, is training to one day get to the top of another podium – one the whole world will see. As a member of the USA Surfing’s Junior Development Team, Moss is among a handful of surfers who are training to represent the United States once surfing is introduced as an Olympic Sport in 2020.
“It’s exciting, I’m learning a lot from my training,” Moss said. “I’d love an opportunity to be an Olympic surfer.”
Surfing will make its debut in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan and Moss is part of a 19 surfer development team of boys and girls that could send members to a future Olympics. But first, Moss and his fellow teammates must learn the rigors of competitive surfing, which they are doing from the team’s coach Joey Buran, winner of the 1984 Pipeline Masters.
“We’re working on contest strategy mostly,” said Moss, who said Buran favors a “snap, crackle, pop” progression, with a strong turn to start, some “crackle” in the middle and a strong turn to “pop” at the end.
To make the team, Moss won the points title for under-14 boys on the East Coast, which earned him a spot in the USA Surfing Championships held June 19 – 22 at Lower Trestles, San Onofre State Beach, Calif.
Moss’ father Greg Moss said the experience competing at the famous surfing spot, along with the expert instruction from the USA team coaches, is helping him develop into a better surfer.
“The coaches can really relate to the kids, they’re listening to every word,” Greg Moss said. ‘I’m really impressed with the calibre of training he’s receiving.”
While Owen Moss has been surfing since he was 3, it was more difficult for him to learn early on since the family didn’t live by the beach, his father said.
“It wasn’t something that was easy for him, it’s taken a lot of hard work,” Greg Moss said.