Dwight Pastrana is looking forward to the future. He’s just turned 18 and is almost done with High School, stoked to finally have the freedom to travel and surf full time. Growing up in San Juan, Puerto Rico and eventually moving to Maui for boarding school, young Dwight has watched his life change a lot over the past few years. After spending some time down in Mexico and then the Philippines, he stopped by the O’Neill offices for a quick interview. Here’s a conversation with Dwight Pastrana…
A CONVERSATION WITH DWIGHT PASTRANA
Dwight, thanks for cruising in!
Yeah, thanks for having me.
So where did you grow up?
I grew up in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I was born in Kansas City, MO because my parents were there for college. Then when I was two years old we all moved back. We lived on a big farm when I was really young. Then when I was around 9 my parents decided they wanted to move to the city. I got really into surfing when we moved there.
How did you get into it?
Well, no one in my family surfed. It was just me. I was at this sports camp that would let us surf twice a week. I guess I just got hooked. After a while, I told my parents I didn’t want to go to the camp anymore. I just wanted to go surf.
That’s cool you kinda took to it on your own.
Yeah! And I had the beach right there. Just walk like a couple minutes to the water. It’s a grimy wave but I would surf every day. I was probably about 11 or 12 when I actually got a better board and started going to other spots. When I was 14, I started competing and got 5th in my first contest. I liked it and just kinda kept going. And then this Pache guy from O’Neill Puerto Rico said he wanted to help me out. When I saw that, I thought it was sick! Like I could actually make something out of it.
When did you start competing in ISA events?
I got to compete for the first time in 2015. I started working really hard, just figuring out all the little things I could do better to stay competitive. By the end of that year, I got my first contract with O’Neill.
Nice, you were stoked it lined up!
Yeah! I just got siked to travel and started working really hard with training. Going to the gym and surfing as much as I could. Trying to get shots. It was sick!
It’s cool you’ve been able to travel a bit and just do your own thing.
Yeah, it’s been like that ever since I got the O’Neill contract. It was weird cuz I kinda got banished from surfing contests at home. I couldn’t sign up for this one contest and then another. I just decided to move to Maui for a year and go to this boarding school.
Crazy. What was the deal with the school?
It was horrible, I couldn’t deal with it. Just all the pressure and everything. The lady wouldn’t let me surf. We got out of school at 3:45 and she would make me get home by 5:00. Noah (Hill) and I would go surf and I was never back on time.
You met Noah at school?
Yeah, one day he just came up to me and said he heard that I rode for O’Neill. He was down to take me surfing and said his dad could film us. I was psyched! We would go surf up north and go around to different spots.
So what went wrong?
I got burned to the point where the lady wouldn’t let me surf at all. It kinda freaked me out. I just started doing all these weird things. Not paying attention in school and stuff. After a while, the school said I wasn’t allowed to be there anymore and that was it. I left. Just decided to do my own thing.
What did you do after you left?
After that, I moved in with some friends and started going to public school. It’s gnarly out there. Like 4,000 kids and you barely see your friends around this huge campus. I didn’t like it, but it was easy. My mom called and asked if I wanted to go back to Puerto Rico but I wanted to stay on Maui. We were just getting into winter and I knew I had to stay.
That’s cool though. It shows you were at least dedicated to living out there.
Yeah I mean, I was kind of uncomfortable living at my friend's house after a while. But it mellowed. A month later I started living with my grandma out there. That was cool cuz I was by myself, got my license and then got a car. That’s when I would just surf in the morning, go to school, and then surf again all afternoon. I got my own filmer too. I just started picking him up whenever I would surf. We would just film all the time. That’s how I got my clip into Stab’s Young Guns.
You finally got a little routine down.
Yeah! I actually like Maui a lot. It’s less crowded and you can do your own thing. Just find a lot of waves with no one around. I kinda learned what I needed to do. This was actually the first year when I had enough money to travel. But it was crazy, they wouldn’t let me on to the flight in Mexico City without a parent because at the time I was under 18. So I turned around in line and just picked out a random lady. I asked her to be my mom for the day and she was cool about it. We just got on the flight together and made it over.
That’s a pretty crafty move!
Yeah, I was psyched! Like I had to make it. So I spent two months in Mexico. I have some friends and stuff down there too so that helped a lot. Just figured things out as I went.
Yeah, once you have your own travel budget you can do it all.
I just went to the Philippines after Mexico and really liked it. I had a ticket to go to Bali but ended up staying in the Philippines for longer. It was so uncrowded so I spent another week there and met a bunch of new friends. It ended up being a really fun trip.
So are you over school at this point?
I’m finishing my last year right now. I just went home for a week and got caught up on some work. I still have another month and then I’ll be done. After that, I want to start a few online classes for college. At least just to give it a try. I eventually want to go into business.
What are your goals for the future?
Well, my mom always told me to have a plan B. I could fall and get hurt at any time so I’m always thinking of what else to do. My parents are into business and stuff so I grew up around it.
What are you into outside of surfing?
Well, I have a Hobie Cat and like to go sailing whenever I can. I also like to go and farm, just take care of plants and stuff when I’m at home. I have this plan to grow mahogany soon. It’s a really expensive wood and would be an investment over 20 years. That wood is worth a lot of money and I have some land back in Puerto Rico that I can plant the trees on. When I have some time I want to start working on that. That way when I’m around 40 or so I can get money from it.
Yeah! They make a bunch of furniture and stuff out of mahogany.
Awesome man, thanks for sitting down!
Yeah, thank you!
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