Mike Purpus

Up-and-coming surfer talks boards, ‘California’s answer to Pipeline,’ and the day he became a reef fillet

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Pipeline: Ryan Hughes

by Mike Purpus

Ryan Hughes started surfing when he was 11. He started on a Boogie board before he could walk and advanced to a skimboard and then a surfboard. Now he’s cap[tin of the years old but was riding a skim and Boogie board before he could walk. The fair-haired, freckle-faced, 5’11” Redondo High School senior learned to surf from his father, Daren, on his 8’4″ Becker Surfboard at Torrance Beach. Ryan said “The board was really old. I think it was made in the ‘80s. It still works in mushy waves.” His dad took Ryan to San Onofre and Ryan was hooked surfing every day at Torrance Beach to Saphire or up at the Cove.

Ryan is part of an up and coming group of aggressive surfers turning heads. Domminick Giefing, Luke Humphrey, Daniel Crawford, and Ben Oien are right behind Hudson Richie and Parker Browning putting on a surfing circus with big airs and deep tube rides.

Ryan started on his dad’s Becker but soon switched to a 6′ Ben Aipa swallowtail. Ben invented the swallowtail. Now he rides a 5’7″ Pat Ryan ET Surfboard and a 9′ Becker.

In the seventh grade, Ryan surfed in his first South Bay Boardriders Surf Contest. Last year Ryan won the National Scholastic Surfing Association Longboard Division and placed third in the Hotdogger Junior Division.

Ryan is a local boy but loves 56th Street in Newport Beach on a big South Swell. Ryan said, “It’s California’s answer to Pipeline.”

Ryan has gotten good waves in Tahiti and Sayvlita, Mexico. His family goes to Maui every summer where Ryan surfs the local breaks around Lahina. Ryan said “I was surfing this secret shallow reef break called Iron Wood with just a few locals on this 8′ day. I dropped in late and got sliced across the jagged reef on my back. The 10′ set barrel bounced me off the bottom so hard I didn’t know my back was fileted like a Mahi Mahi waiting to be fried. I kept surfing for an hour before a local surfer paddled up to me and asked if I liked sharks. I was feeling really light headed paddling to shore where my mom was shooting photos. She started screaming and rushed me off to the ER of a local clinic where I got 30 stitches to close the gap.”

Ryan wants to surf like Hudson Richie, Will Allen, Cj Nelson, and Alex Knost. He thinks Dane Reynolds is the best short boarder.

Ryan loves deep barrels and says “The bigger the better. If I am riding my longboard I enjoy camping out on the nose.”


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