The North Shore's 16-year-old Finn McGill just won the Pipe Invitational, while Hawaiian Josh Moniz and Brazil's 19-year-old Victor Bernardo made the Final in the same event. Something they all have in common? Sure, a Billabong sticker on their boards, but more specifically: Coach Rainos Hayes.
If you've ever been around a big surf event in Hawaii, you're sure to have seen Rainos. 40-something and fit as a 21-year-old, Rainos has an illustrious history (and record) of coaching young talents to greatness. A national coach and Hawaii team manager for Billabong, plus head coach for the Hawaii Surf Team, Rainos has helped kids win countless state, national and world titles, and watched Hawaii win the ISA World Junior Championships three times.
So, yeah, he's kind of a big deal.
"Hawaii is the birthplace of surfing and this is the sport of kings," said Rainos. "Duke Kahanamoku took this gift to the world as an ambassador of aloha. I try and always remember this and be grateful for my opportunity to be of service."
Raised at Sunset Beach and a former-professional surfer himself, Rainos looked up to fellow goofyfoot heroes of the time like Marvin Foster, Tom Carroll, Ronnie Burns, Davey Cantrell and Dwight Obayashi. On a stormy lay day during the 2016 Billabong Pipe Masters, Rainos described a handful of his favorite coaching experiences.
Rainos Hayes' Favorite Coach-Surfer Relationships
1. Joel Centeio Joel was my first World Junior Champion. He could follow instruction and produce incredibly consistent and powerful surfing at a very young age. He was the kid that really showed me you could be bright, shiny and happy no matter what the conditions or circumstances. I really took that to heart and learned to provide support and encouragement that allows the athletes to enjoy what they are doing and their journey.
2. Pancho Sullivan Pancho told me he hadn't made a single heat in two years and that if he didn't win our next Sunset event he wouldn't qualify for the Triple Crown and could possibly lose his sponsorship. Two weeks later, he won the Sunset contest and went on a roll in our Hawaii events that I have never seen duplicated. He won five events that season. He showed me that when someone is that defeated, they become extremely willing to listen. We were able to bring out his best and he made the Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour (CT) at the end of that year.
3. Keanu Asing Keanu has always been all heart and hard work. He is extremely genuine and dedicated and has earned everything he has. He has a great foundation and work ethic instilled by his father, Tommy. At 16 years old, the magical bond we had led him to earn a Junior World Title in Ecuador. And ultimately, his commitment has allowed him to become one of the best in the world.
4. Ian Walsh It was great to connect with somebody who had raw talent, and was hungry and willing to take risks. He was also ready for guidance. The first time I worked with Ian, he won the HIC Pro at Sunset. To see how large Ian's world has become and the incredible surf he rides has been amazing.
5. Hawaii Surf Team Through the Hawaii Surf Team, I have had the opportunity to work with all our Hawaiian ladies on the WSL women's CT. An incredible gift. Most recently, Tatiana Weston-Webb is who really took exactly what she learned in our program and applied it directly among the best in the world. It proved to me that what our program was doing was really spot on.
6. Josh & Seth Moniz They're champions with surfing in their bloodline. Both very enjoyable young men and extremely comfortable at Pipeline, Backdoor and Off-The-Wall. I'm excited to see what this new year will bring for them competitively, pushing their own boundaries as they move toward finding out and developing what works for them.
7. Finn McGill At 16 years of age, Finn has been the breakthrough performer of this year's competitive season. I have always known that he would be a North Shore performer, but to see his work come together earlier than I thought has been an incredible surprise. He has the ability to rise to the occasion when he gets in over his head, and it has allowed him to surf with maturity that is well beyond his years. I'm enjoying watching him smile through this whole thing as well.
8. Andy Irons Lastly, I had the good fortune to get knocked around by Andy Irons from his prime 'til his passing. He was very raw and wore his heart on his sleeve. You knew every moment where you stood with Andy, good or bad. I was never Andy's coach, but a corner man for him. Three World Titles later, the competitive criteria started to change and there was a long time where he hadn't won an event and became really unsure of his thought process and ability. He knew he could trust me and actually asked for some help, which was not like him at all. He went on to make the Semis at Lower Trestles being stopped only by his own broken board.
Not long after that, he won the Tahiti event for the last time. He was the one that really taught me that world champions are a different breed. I am thankful for all the world champions I have had the pleasure of being in close contact with and learning from. I can really appreciate the hard work, dedication and sacrifice they have put into both their lives and this sport. Commitment is the one word that comes to my mind through all these athletes. Check the WSL rulebook, I am pretty sure it's in there.