From Surf Coach to Life Mentor

By Lauren Rolland

As the coach and team manager for Billabong in Hawaii and also the head coach for the Hawaii Surf Team, Rainos Hayes’ job might sound like it’s just a day at the beach. From the outside looking in, some might think this type of career is part time, happening only when the waves are good, or maybe just a weekend gig when the contests take place. But this notion couldn’t be any further from the truth. Coaching and team management is a 24/7 job for Rainos, and he’s taken this responsibility to a whole new level of dedication.

With 19 years involvement in surf team management and coaching, the Kahuku High graduate describes his career as ‘extremely soul satisfying.’ Anyone who knows this man would agree that Rainos’ job is more than just a career- it’s a passion, a lifestyle and an extension of who he is.

“I got into surfing because it was the most fun thing that I did and I was absolutely in love with it,” the surfer explains. “I love being in the water everyday, and when I was younger I couldn’t spend enough time at the beach. The minute I found surfing, that was my excuse.” And thus the sport became a lifestyle and an unlikely pathway to a career.

When Rainos began as a surf team coach and manager in 1994, the job only borderline existed. “People view surf coaching as a norm these days the same way they view surf lessons as a norm.” But it wasn’t always this way. Coaching and team management was a relatively new career in the surf industry. And for Rainos, it was a journey and an adventure he never thought he’d take.

Competing on the professional circuit, Rainos became less concerned with winning and more on performing. “In the end, that’s how I ended up teaching myself the game of competitive surfing, and I was able to pass that on fairly easily,” Rainos describes. The competitive experience was a necessary lesson that the professional athlete would later share with younger surfers.

“For me when I was a kid and I first got into competitive surfing, I really struggled with it. I really didn’t figure out what was happening in a heat until about age 24. That was the time I kind of stopped chasing around the world for WQS points, and I really focused here at home.” Rainos grew up at Sunset Point and developed relationships with this home break along with Pipeline and Haleiwa. Ideal training grounds for aspiring athletes, these three breaks also make up surfing’s biggest events of the year, the Triple Crown.

It’s easy to see why Rainos succeeds as a coach. Selfless, patient and extremely knowledgeable, this mentor knows how to hone in on a surfer’s strengths and how to translate the competitive game into strategy. But the fulfillment doesn’t come from merely watching the team succeed. “The most fulfilling part of my job is the fact that I actually get to watch kids change their lives,” Rainos confides.

Coaching surfers like Joel Centeio, Kekoa Bacalso, Pancho Sullivan, Alessa Quizon and Josh Moniz, Rainos has witnessed many surfers move from gromhood into being champions. This growing list of successful surfers gives credence to Rainos’ knack and skill as a mentor. And while this type of success might be sweet for a coach to witness, it’s the athlete’s success as an all-around good human being that is the ultimate goal.

Rainos keeps two key points at the forefront of every ‘lesson plan’ for the surfers: work ethic and a good attitude. “Life takes work. And in order to get good performances you have to really work at it, you have to apply yourself.” This lesson can easily be seen in the athletes on the Hawaii Surf Team that Rainos coaches. Many of the kids have a relatively rigid daily structure; from eating right to staying active outside of surfing to making sure their school grades are on point. And you can bet that Coach Rainos is the voice in their ear.

Oahu’s Mahina Maeda, a member of the Hawaii Surf Team and Sunset Point local says, “Rainos is a loving character who is very dedicated to making the team become strong individuals.” Kauai’s Tatiana Weston-Webb mentions that “Rainos is one of the most dedicated, whole hearted and knowledgeable human beings about surfing,” and that she couldn’t be where she is today without him. Noa Mizuno describes Rainos as being “down-to-earth, honest, solid, passionate and a leader.” What you might not know about the coach however is that leadership wasn’t a natural characteristic, the art just came with the position.

Working as a coach has allowed Rainos to continue to be compassionate, calm and calculated. “I didn’t know I wanted to coach surfing, but I’ve always known that I enjoyed helping people.” This was the natural progression in Rainos’ career. Being supportive and encouraging for the Billabong team in Hawaii and the Hawaii Surf Team, Rainos is not just a surf coach. He’s a life mentor for so many of Hawaii’s aspiring surfers.

Rainos wanted to express his gratitude to the people in his life who have helped him along the way. “Thanks to Bert Ishimaru, Kahea Hart, Stephen & Jimmy Tsukayama, Donald & Lavonne Pahia and Tony & Tammy Moniz who have all helped by supporting me. And a big mahalo to all the kids that have allowed me to participate in their lives.”

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