By Aukai Ng
The surfing world has had some legendary brotherly duos. Andy and Bruce Irons, CJ and Damien Hobgood, Derek and Michael Ho, The Moniz Brothers, Fletchers, Beschens and Geiselmans to name a few. Introducing another DNA duo from the island of Maui, the Young brothers. And just like these other brothers, the younger of the Young brothers is just as talented and driven as the older. Eighteen year old Levi Young has definitely put time into his surfing and the surfing world is seeing the results. With tons of energy, Levi doesn’t hesitate to jump into as many freesurf sessions and contests as he can. He has made his mark with consistently strong and sharp performances both in and out of competition. When sitting down with Levi, we’ve heard some interesting stories about his humble beginnings, the victories he’s had, and the epic yet scary session down at Maalaea. The youth in Maui are coming into the scene like a storm and Levi is right at the head of that pack.
What was it like growing up on Maui and learning to surf there?
My parents moved to Maui for windsurfing back in the day. Maui is the windsurfing capital of the world. I was surrounded by the ocean my whole life and went to the beach a lot. My older brother got into surfing a little later, when he was like nine. And I just kind of wanted to do everything he did, and I got into surfing and just fell in love with it. I grew up at Hoʻokipa Beach Park and it’s a tricky wave but it’s a really good training field. You kind of get a bit of everything.
I have a group of friends that I surf with almost every day like Imai DeVault and Logan Bediamol. They’re like my older brothers as well. Seeing such good surfers in front of me, being able to surf with them every day, they pushed me a lot. And then also my peers, like Jackson Bunch and Eli Hannaman, They’re insane, some of the best surfers in the world. Maui’s got a lot of talent growing up there. And I don’t think I would be where I am today without them.
How’s it coming to the North Shore of Oʻahu from Maui?
The first time I came to the North Shore of Oʻahu was when I was 11 or 12. It was the first year I got on Quiksilver and stayed in the Quiksilver house and got mentored by Reef McIntosh. He’s an all time Pipeline surfer. Having him in my corner, being on the North Shore is amazing. I was scared because Northshore has the most powerful waves in the world. I remember the first time I went out to Pipe, I didn’t even catch a wave. I just went out there and I think it was only like four or five feet. I was just so scared . But nowadays coming to the North Shore, it’s something I look forward to every year.
Tell us about your competitive evolution.
When I was super young, I would sign up for the Menehune Mayhem at my home break, Hookipa. That contest is the coolest thing ever. Ian Walsh puts on the greatest event. There’s so many games and activities to do there and all your friends are there and good food, and I feel like growing up doing that contest is something that made me wanna be better. I also did HSAs and the NSSAs and surfing in those for sure shaped me into the surfer I am today. Just like all the practice and hours of doing those events gave me a lot of knowledge in heats. Doing all those events is always awesome, especially traveling with your friends and family to Big Island, Oʻahu, and Kauai.
In 2022 I won two national titles in a day over at Huntington Beach and that was pretty cool. I was in two divisions, the Juniors and the Open Mens, so I had basically back to back finals. I went out for my first final and I kind of got my waves early. It felt like one of the longest heats ever just because I was in the lead for most of the time. And then just those final seconds, like the countdown, I was like ‘Yes! I did it!’ I was in such a high moment and when I came in I was just so stoked. I just had to walk away for a little bit and take deep breaths and reset my headspace. After only a 25 minute break, I went back out for my second final and I just had so much confidence. I just accomplished my goal for that year and I just knew I could do it again. I did it again.
What is the biggest challenge when it comes to competitive surfing?
I think the biggest thing is learning how to lose. It’s always so tough losing, especially if you fly across the world to do a contest and go out in this first round it really messes with your head. I still do get pretty upset after my heats. I gotta go walk away and not talk to anybody for a couple hours, but it happens and it’s a part of the game and you gotta learn from your losses. It’s what makes you stronger.
What was it like surfing with your brother, Cody? Is there a rivalry between you two?
My brother Cody is my best friend and he’s also like my coach. Growing up with him wasn’t easy, he would bully me haha. But he also had helped me a lot so I could be where I am today. We’ve had a couple heats together and there would be a lot of trash talking going down for sure. I’m 18 years old now and he’s kind of been in the scene for a while and I’m kind of just going into the QS events and stuff. So maybe a rivalry soon, I don’t know about quite yet, but I would love to beat him! I just wanna make a name for myself, not just his little brother. I would get called Cody like at least five times a day. I don’t think he’s ever got called Levi before. But now I’m creating my own path. I’m not just walking in his footsteps. I’m challenging myself in every way and trying to be better than him. That’s always the goal, you know, it’s just to be the best.
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