Surfing: NSSA contest brings out tough competition

  • Zal Costa. (Thane Milhoan/Big Island Sports Network)
  • Rumor Butts. (Thane Milhoan/Big Island Sports Network)
  • Jackson Dorian. (Thane Milhoan/Big Island Sports Network)
  • Hiro Laliberte. (Thane Milhoan/Big Island Sports Network)

The sights and sounds at Banyans last Saturday for the National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) contest felt very familiar, cars lining both sides of Alii Drive, reggae music blaring from the beach side speakers, Tony Sargis on the mic with the heat results, and groms in brightly colored rash guards charging the waves.

To the casual fan, it was just another surf contest at Banyans, while those that follow the local youth surfing scene noticed a lot of new names on the heat cards and unfamiliar faces riding the waves.


The NSSA sponsors statewide contests which culminate when the top ranked surfers head to the mainland to surf in the national championships. They hold two contests each season on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island. According to the NSSA’s Miko Parker, the surfers must compete in five contests to qualify for the Hawaii regional championships and a chance to compete at the national championships. Which is why there were 11 neighbor island surfers taking to the waves in Kailua-Kona on a picture perfect beach day.

With top-ranked NSSA Hawaii surfers like Haylee Boverman, Diego Ferri, and Maikai Burdine in town, the nine local surfers at the contest faced an increased level of competition. Despite facing some formidable foes, four Big Island surfers rose to the top. Rumor Butts took first place in the Women’s Open Division and Zal Costa was the winner of the Explorer Menehune Division. Hiro Laliberte finished on top of the podium in the Boy’s Open Division and the only local surfer with an NSSA ranking coming into the contest, Jackson Dorian, placed first in the Junior Boy’s Open Division.

Despite the home break advantage, the local surfers were outpaced by the neighbor island surfers 7-to-4 in first place finishes, 6-to-5 in second place finishes, and 7-to-2 in third place finishes.

While the contest was sponsored by the NSSA, the Big Island chapter of the HSA (Hawaii Surfing Association) took on the responsibility of running the event. Lead by Lisa Dorian, HSA Big Island is making a comeback after being dormant for a period of time.

Dorian and the HSA ohana have been instrumental in reinvigorating the youth surfing scene and providing increased opportunities for the Big Island’s aquatic athletes. She is quick to point out that it “takes a village,” and credits judges Dave Smith and Howard Clark for going above and beyond in support of the keiki.

Local businesses have also stepped up to support the effort to provide more opportunities for the Big Island’s surfing community. The Kona Bali Kai Condominiums were praised for their continued support of Banyans surfing contests, while Luva Real Estate was the lunch sponsor for this contest, making sure that there was plenty of pizza on hand to keep the surfers and support staff going strong.

The next HSA contest is scheduled for Nov. 16 with the location being announced a week out depending on the swell. The NSSA will be back on the Island for another Banyans contest on Jan. 11, giving the local surfers another chance to compete against the state’s best and defend their home break.

With a number of young Big Island surfers making waves on the national level, and a strong association looking to grow the sport and create more opportunities, the future of youth surfing on the Big Island is looking as bright as a sunny Kona day.


Explorer Super Grom Division

1. Bruno Ferri

2. Zal Costa

3. Kona Costa

Explorer Menehune Division

1. Zal Costa

2. Angle Jardine

3. Bruno Ferri

Explorer Boy’s 13-14 Division

1. Rafi Neri

2. Jackson Dorian

3. Maikai Burdine

Explorer Girl’s 14 &Under

1. Malia Lima

2. Haylee Boverman

Explorer Women’s Division

1. Haylee Boverman

2. Rumor Butts

3. Malia Lima

Mini-Groms Open Division

1. Bruno Ferri

2. Zal Costa

3. Ryder Prouty

Boy’s Open Division

1. Hiro Laliberte

2. Bruno Ferri

3. Angle Jardine

Boy’s Junior Open Division

1. Jackson Dorian

2. Diesel Butts

3. Rafi Neri

Men’s Open Division

1. Diego Ferri

2. Maikai Burdine

3. Kaiden Lieto

Girl’s Open Division

1. Haylee Boveman

2. Malia Lima

Women’s Open Division

1. Rumor Butts


2. Malia Lima

3. Haylee Boverman

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