Hometown: Haena, Kauai DOB: August 27, 2002 Sponsors: Rip Curl, Famous, Leus, Akamai Juice Company, Hanalei Surf Company
Next to the word surfer in the dictionary, go ahead and put a picture of young Sage Tutterow. What’s his first memory on a wave? He doesn’t have one, because his earliest memories are that of being a surfer. What’s his favorite non-surfing activity? None — he surfs (usually with close friend and fellow grom on the rise Sammy Gray). He trains to surf better and he listens to music, presumably to give a soundtrack to the nonstop mindsurfing inside his head.
Thanks to his frothing surfer parents, the sport is as interlaced in his lifestyle as breathing (or, maybe more appropriately, holding his breath), and his contest performances have shown that. He started his summer at Lower Trestles in June with a top five finish for boys under 16 in the prestigious USA Surfing Championships, and at the kickoff of the National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) season late this summer on his home island of Kauai, the 15-year-old took first place in four divisions straight out of the gate.
All of those wins were leading up to a crowning achievement of his early career and the longest journey he’s ever been on: through rigorous tryouts, Sage qualified to join Team Hawaii at the International Surfing Association (ISA) World Junior Surfing Championships in Japan in September, where the team of shining stars from Hawaii brought home a silver medal. To have his name included in the same breath as the esteemed young athletes and to be granted the opportunity to train under such legends as Rainos Hayes and Jason Shibata proves that this Rip Curl GromSearch Champion has carved out his well-deserved spot in Hawaii’s unstoppable future crew.
Freesurf: What’s the best part of being from Kauai, and what makes surfers from Kauai unique?
Sage Tutterow: It’s pretty low key, and I love that. There are some incredible waves with nobody around. The swells get pretty nuts, and I think surfers from here benefit from that a lot. You get comfortable in some sketchy surf and that’s something really special about the surfers that come out of here. There’s also beach breaks and all kinds of spots around so that keeps you sharp in everything for sure.
Where are your favorite spots to surf?
Probably the zones I surf at home in Haena. I haven’t been out of Hawaii a lot, but you can’t not love Lowers.
Where’s your favorite place you’ve traveled to and where are you hoping to go to?
Japan had a sick vibe, but as far as waves go Kauai is where it’s at. Mentawais with the boys doesn’t sound bad at all.
You’re good friends with Sammy Gray — how do you guys push each other in your surfing and what other mischief do you get into?
Sammy’s pretty nuts, especially in big waves. If I see him get a sick wave, it definitely pumps me up to get one too. We mostly surf. We’re always rousting each other about something.
Who are your favorite surfers, and who inspires your style the most?
I love Noa Deane and Gabriel Medina. I used to be super into Mick [Fanning], but now I try to do my own thing with my style.
What are your favorite maneuvers?
Backside tail blows are kind of my thing, and I’m trying to get into airs a little. I still haven’t figured it out…
Congratulations on the silver medal finish at the ISA World Juniors in Japan! Tell us about that trip.
Thanks! The waves were super fun and I mostly enjoyed cruising with the team. Our crew was pretty sick and everyone psyched each other up for whatever it was that we were doing. It was awesome to get to surf with all the other guys from Hawaii and just see what they’re doing to learn from them and feed off of their energy. We all pushed each other and cheered each other on. It’s a sick feeling. I’m psyched I got to be a part of that. The kids from other countries have game too, and they all got some really talented guys. It was cool to make some new friends from all over.
What are your plans for this winter?
Hopefully I’ll make my way back up to Oahu later in the winter season. Home is always fun, so I’m not too worried about missing out on the scene. For contests, I’m working on going over to Australia for the QS in the beginning of the season. I’m super pumped to go over there and hopefully get some results.
Which other groms really inspire or motivate you right now?
Just all my close friends I see at the comps. Kade [Matson]’s been killing it, we’re boys and he’s always amping to surf. All my friends push me to get better, they’re a huge source of motivation.
If you weren’t a pro surfer, what would you be?
I’m super into clothes, shoes and stuff like that, so I’d probably go to business school and art school and try to start my own brand and design clothes. I plan on doing that later anyways, but surfing’s my priority for sure.
What are your favorite activities outside of the water?
Training? [laughs] All I do is surf. I listen to a lot of music.
What are your goals as a surfer?
World Titles, lots of them.
Last words for the Freesurf audience?