Published on 12/5/2012
By Chris Sokoloski
At just 13 years old, Luke Gordon of Pawleys Island is already a national champion surfer.
Gordon won his division in the Rip Curl GromSearch National Championships in Upper Trestles, Calif., last month. He competed against surfers from the East and West Coasts of the United States, Hawaii and around the world.
Gordon qualified for the national championships by winning an event in Nags Head, N.C. Boyd Brown, one of Gordon's surfing buddies from Litchfield, finished second. Gordon turned in two 8-point rides at the event.
The most difficult part of competing is the "head game," Gordon said.
"You've got to keep your head right."
This was not Gordon's first national competition. He's won seven East Coast titles, the first one when he was 9, and placed as high as fourth in national competition.
Gordon is a natural born surfer. His father, Tommy, grew up surfing in Georgetown County, and put his son on a surfboard when Luke was just 4 years old.
Tommy laid Luke down on the board and told him to "just lay there and let the wave take you."
"He jumped up and stood up and started turning the board," Tommy said. "Like he had been doing it forever."
The family was living in Camden at the time, but Tommy and his wife, Kim, soon decided to move back to Georgetown County.
"We wanted to move back to the beach and be close to the surf because we could tell that there was something there," Tommy said. "There was a gift."
When he's not in class at Lowcountry Prep School, Gordon is out on the water trying to surf at Pawleys Island. There are about 20 Grand Strand kids that join Gordon in a local "surf crew," who get guidance from local mentors Bob Weaver, David Nuckles and Denny Green.
Gordon also surfs up and down the East Coast, and in California, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Many of the trips are hosted by Quicksilver, which is one of his sponsors. Matt Kechele and Chad Wells from Quicksilver are two of his coaches.
His favorite part of surfing?
"Getting that one good wave every session," Gordon said. "It's addicting."
His favorite surfing spot is Santa Cruz, Mexico.
Gordon's goal is to make the U.S. Surf Team and travel the world competing.
Whether or not he reaches his goal, he may have to give up his studies at Lowcountry Prep and start home schooling.
"As he grows and his frame fills out he going to have to travel to surf," Tommy said. "You just can't train here. As he gets bigger and bigger these waves aren't going to offer him what he needs to develop."
When he's not surfing he enjoys skateboarding or playing drums and guitar.
Gordon has an older sister, Katie, who is also a surfer. Katie has won a longboard and two shortboard East Coast titles and is now playing varsity basketball at Lowcountry Prep.
Gordon is the great-grandson of Katie and Paul McCants, who owned the Lafayette Restaurant on Fraser Street in Georgetown.