Wheeler Hasburgh – Surf Canada National Junior Team member
Hometown: Encinitas, California
School: San Dieguito Academy: 9th grade, 4.0 GPA; Favorite subject: Math
Sponsors: Monster, Hansen’s Surf Shop
Claim to Fame: In undeniably his best performance since he began competing in the NSSA Mini Grom division over six years ago, Wheeler put forth a mighty effort at the 2020 West Coast Regional Championships that saw him competing in five finals and taking home his first major NSSA title in the Explorer Mens. But more than his finals appearances, what was incredibly impressive was his elevated level. Wheeler, aka “Wheels”, returned after a year absence from contests, physically bigger and stronger. Heat after heat, his surfing was lights out. Hammering powerful turns, teeing off on sections and throwing plumes of spray to the heavens, it was clear a title was knocking on the door. “I felt really strong and excited to be back in the water after a year without contests,” Wheeler said. “I spent the year pushing myself and trying new things; I focused on trusting my fundamentals and just letting it happen. But as the year went on, I realized how much I missed competing. I really felt like I had the endurance to surf in those finals.” The 15-year-old who is a 9th grader at San Dieguito Academy and carries a 4.0 GPA, has international roots which has taken him from riding waves in the frigid waters of Canada to the warm, pumping surf of Mexico. Born in the Canadian Rocky Mountains but raised in Mexico until his 6th grade school year, Wheeler was drawn to the action sports. Growing up in a region which is basically a surfer’s paradise, he started catching waves with the locals of the small village of Sayulita. On a trip to California, he competed in his first NSSA event at Seaside Reef when he was 8 years old. “I was visiting from Mexico and the Slawson family called my parents to ask if I wanted to surf in a contest,” he said. “I had to borrow a board and wetsuit from Levi. It was my first time in a wetsuit! I remember the water was so cold and the waves were pumping like I had never seen. I looked at my dad and said, ‘I don’t think I can do this’ but then I heard my name over the loudspeaker and said, ‘Ok, I gotta go.’ I think I placed last in my heat—and I was like, man, these kids are good!” Despite the first-round loss, Wheels was fired up and has been competing in the NSSA since. In addition, his Canadian heritage has allowed him to compete in Canada surfing events where he earned a berth on its Junior Surf Team with the dream of becoming an Olympian. “I have won the U18 Canadian National title twice and at the end of this month I am going to train with the team in El Salvador,” he said. “My long-term goal would be to make the Canadian Olympic Surf Team.” Circling back to the Explorer Men’s final at Regionals, Wheels opened up with a solid 6.83 and slammed the door shut with a dynamic 9.17 combo-ing the field. “I am still so stoked and surprised,” he said. “It meant so much to me holding that trophy!”
WHAT DID YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT THE WAVES AT OCEANSIDE PIER? The first day was pretty grindy and offshore with some fun inside wedges but then throughout the weekend it just got better and better.
AGE YOU STARTED SURFING: 7 years old. I was taught by my dad and many local surfers in the village of Sayulita, Mexico.
SURF CREW: The Encinitas boys and the crew at Moonlight.
LOCAL SPOT: Seaside and Moonlight.
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT LIVING IN ENCINITAS? It’s always sunny, super nice days and consistent waves where I can easily bike to the beach and surf with all of my friends.
LOCAL HEROES: Rob Machado and Rusty Phillipy. They are part of the local fabric here. I’ve watched Machado in awe and Rusty has been my coach since we moved to the US.
FAVORITE PRO SURFERS: Dane Reynolds and John John Florence. I grew up watching them and I love their style and technique.
IF YOU COULD SURF LIKE ANYONE IN THE WORLD WHO WOULD IT BE? Dane Reynolds — because he surfs with abandon.
FANTASY SUPERPOWER: Super speed so I can make any barrel section I want. HOBBIES: Snowboarding, skateboarding and basketball. SOMETHING PEOPLE DO NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU: I’m 100% bilingual in Spanish and English.
BARRELS OR AIRS? Barrels, nothing like getting barreled.
DREAM WAVE: An A-Frame barreling wave in the middle of nowhere so my friends and I can surf all day long.
WHO HAS PUSHED YOUR SURFING THE MOST? My parents. (My mom is the most competitive person I know 😊) and my surf crew; we use each other every day but in the best way.
THINGS YOU ARE WORKING ON IN YOUR SURFING: Power surfing, barrels, rails, deeper bottom turns, more vertical snaps. I’m always on my backside and I’m always trying to get my frontside closer to it.
GOALS FOR 2021: To improve my surfing, strength training and travel around the world. There are a bunch of places I want to surf.
THANK YOUS: Firstly, Janice and Gayline because the NSSA was the first contest I ever did at 8 years old and I have learned so much from day one. Also, my parents, friends, and coaches, Rusty Philipy and Team Canada Coach Shannon Campbell Brown for pushing me.