Young, Nat (USA)

Tow-headed pro surfer from Santa Cruz, Califiornia; world-ranked #8 and ASP Rookie of the Year in 2013. Young was born (1991) and raised on the Westside of Santa Cruz, and started riding waves on a bodyboard at age 5. By the time he was a teenager, the relentlessly freckled goofyfoot was pulling down wins in regional amateur surf contests. But like all young would-be pros from Northern California, it was hard to make the trek to Southern California, where most of the states' important amatuer contests are held; Young's parents developed a strategy to fly Young to events, with his mom driving down in advance to act as chaffeur and chaperone.

From that point on, Young blitzed the amateur rankings, taking home the National Scholastic Surfing Association Open Men’s title in 2008. That same year, the 17-year-old Young, still an amateur, thrilled the home town crowd by winning the O’Neill Coldwater Classic at Steamer Lane. Young’s success seemed to come almost equally from his desire to win as much as his raw surfing ability. “It’s not something I can help,” Young told an interviewer in 2012. “When I was a kid, if I didn’t win, I’d cry. It’s changed a little now, I don’t cry, but if I don’t win, I’m not happy.”

Young qualified for the elite World Championship Tour in 2013, becoming only the third Santa Cruz native to reach pro surfing's highest ranks (Chris Gallagher and Adam Repogle each made the tour in the 1990s). Young had immediate success, earning a second-place finish at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, the second event of the season. 2013 also saw the debut of the flashy, much-touted Hawaiian Sebastien Zietz, as well as Brazil's Felipe Toledo, whom many pegged as the best rookie on tour. But Young was the more polished competitor, using a solid foundation of power carves, especially on his backhand, along with technical tube riding and a solid air game, to make heat after heat. Young took home another second-place trophy at the Rip Curl Peniche Pro in Portugal. The ASP named Young as Rookie of the Year shortly thereafter. He also took home the 2013 Surfer Magazine Poll Award for Breakthrough Performer.

Young was named after 1966 world champion Nat Young, of Sydney.

Young has been featured in numerous web clips, including Red Bull's 21 Days series, and a handful of surf videos, including Innersection Volume 2 (2011) and California Republic (2013).