Think of your average grom. The sounds flooding your mind right now may include blaring music, boys yelling brazenly, serious whispers plotting pranks, and possibly the tousles of tackling each other between sessions. Now erase it, because none of these things describe Robert Grilho III, also known as RG3.
Grilho, 13, is mild-mannered and serious. He’s neither a prankster nor an accomplice. He speaks in few words and rarely raises his voice. The Kapolei Middle School eighth grader loves math because it comes easily to him. He’s not rushing to learn to drive or pick out his first car — in fact, when his Dad does let him drive it kind of scares him. Grilho is stoked on every minute of life as a kid, and this kid happens to be a supremely talented ripper from Kapolei who’s already sponsored by Rip Curl, Town & Country Surf, Da Kine, and more.
Since turning heads early last year with a win at the NSSA Regional Boys’ Championship at Kewalo Basin, Grilho has continued to showcase his ever-growing skillset with a victory-studded summer this year. He opened up with a second place finish in Boys’ Shortboard at the Local Motion Surf Into Summer Pro back in May and excelled in the Rip Curl Grom Search before helping his team secure a win that will take him back to his favorite break, Lower Trestles, to represent T&C Surf Factory in the Oakley Surf Shop Challenge National Championships in October.
Someday, he’ll surf Bali. He’ll go for the WSL’s Championship Tour. But today, RG3 is a kid with contest winnings wanting a new board.
How did you first start surfing, Robert?
My dad came home from work with a board and kind of surprised me. It was just before my 8th birthday and he was like, ‘Look what I got!’ I was stoked but I was also like, ‘Uhhh…’ because I didn’t go to the beach that often. Then the next day we went to Barber’s Point and that’s when I got my first wave.
How did it feel?
I was stoked instantly.
You’ve said your dad is one of your main inspirations — what about him is your greatest inspiration?
He works hard every day and he sacrifices his own time for me to pursue my dreams. So the guys on Tour you admire are good at power surfing, barrels, and airs, but what’s your favorite to do?
I kind of like power surfing. I just like to throw my power into waves like Lowers, it just feels good.
Is that your favorite place to visit and surf outside of Hawaii?
Where is your dream spot to go to for surf travel?
Bali, I’ve heard a lot about Bali. I don’t know what spot though.
So is Kewalos an every day after school thing?
And if it’s flat here what’s your next go-to?
Barber’s Point, just training for those small waves like Huntington.
You’ve mentioned that Backdoor is another one of your favorite waves. Any other North Shore spots you’re super amped on in the winter?
When did you get your first sponsor and who was it?
I’m not sure when but it was Ronin and Cyko from Jason Shibata. He called me up and I was just really stoked and things started going on from there.
Was that like before your 10th birthday or after?
Maybe, like, 11.
And when did Rip Curl sign you on?
You did well in the Grom Search, won Boys 14 and Under and second for Boys 12 and Under. How did it make you feel?
I was really stoked to have money as a prize. I’ll probably get a new board.
What are your heat strategies?
It’s more about wave selection, and just completing waves.
What’s your favorite non-surfing thing right now?
I like to do jiu-jitsu, I’ve been into that for a few years now. I don’t go often, maybe once a week.
Finish this sentence: I can’t wait to…
Surf…and…do a big air!
What’s your favorite aerial move?
Just a tweaked air-reverse.
What’s the best part about being a grom?
The best part about being a grom is that I can surf all day, everyday, and never get tired.