Name Mahina Maeda
Age 22 years old
Home town Sunset Beach, O’ahu
Photos courtesy Jackie Fiero

Mahina, what got you into surfing and what do you love about it? My parents are from Japan. My dad loves to surf even when he was still living in Japan. So he taught me and my sister how to surf. I found a passion for it. I live walking distance to the beach so it was easy for me to not love the beach. Surfing gives you a rush and comfort at the same time. When I challenge myself on bigger waves, there is a fear factor. But at the same time I love it and just go for it. Surfing has a great culture,I’ve met so many amazing people, and traveled to places that I never was taught in school about. 

Where do you live and whats so special about living there?
I was born and raised on the North shore of O’ahu. This last year I decided to live part time in Chigasaki, Japan. But right now with Covid, I flew back to Hawaii. Hawaii is the birthplace of surfing, and especially growing up on the North Shore. North Shore is the arena of surfing, especially in the winter. My elementary school is across the street from Pipeline. So for us to live here, there was not a doubt for us to not surf. 

How did you get affected by the pandemic in what ways?
I think a positive of the pandemic was being able to be home. I usually travel year round. The longest I usually will be home is about 1-2 months. Especially the summers, I’m never home. I haven’t spent a full summer at home since I was 11. It made me truly appreciate my home and appreciate how quiet North shore is during the summer. 

With the World Tour on hold this year what have you been doing during your time off the Tour?
With the tour on hold, I have been training a lot and enjoying time with my friends. I changed my mindset and created new goals for the winter. So I have been preparing myself for this goal that I am trying to achieve. Other than that, I decided to try out Jiu Jitsu, and now I am hooked.

Whats your future goals with 2021 Olympics and World Tour?
Number 1 goal is to qualify for the World Tour. And 2021 Olympics, I would love to qualify myself for the Olympics as well. We have a difficult process to qualify. So I want to win the Japan Open first and then get myself on the ISA team and then qualify through ISA.

Whats your training regime like and how does it help you achieve your goals?
Lately we’ve added more things to our training regime. I do Ginastica Natural with Kid Peligro, some water training (breath holds), Jiu Jitsu, and surf training drills with Barton Lynch and Marc Atkinson. Barton Lynch and Marc have been helping me out lately. We have a really cool team, and it’s not like any coach I’ve had before. Marc is so specific. That he really fine tunes and gets all the negatives out and helps me resolve it. 

You hold an American and Japanese citizenship and youre representing Japan in the Olympics, do you feel youre a role model for the Asian-American community in sport?
I hope I am a role model. My opinion, I think I am but not super recognised yet. I think the tennis player Naomi Osaka does an amazing job of representing both Japan and American heritage. I have a unique background as an athlete with both nationalities. Especially for surfing, Hawaii is the birthplace of the sport. Being American and Hawaiian are two different things. So living in Hawaii, gives me some pride and respect for the Hawaiian culture and their art of surfing. 

How do you feel womens surfing is right now?
I think women’s surfing is slowly evolving and heading in the right direction. I love seeing women like Emi Erikson and Moana Jones charging big waves at respected places. WSL has also recognised the idea of equal pay for both genders which is groundbreaking for our future selves. I am really excited to see what will be next for our sport.

Where else do you like to travel to when youre not in Hawaii, wheres your fave place to go? 
I love food, so I love to go to places with the best food. My favourite places are FIji, Portugal, and Japan. 

Tell us how you got to surf Nazare, are you into big wave riding is that something youd like to do more of?
The year I surfed Nazare it was the same year I won my WSL World Junior Title. They ended the event early, and we had some time to surf and enjoy. Backstory: My dad used to practice tow partner/ jetski with Uncle Garret McNamara. He moved to Portugal, for big waves. And since we were there, we decided to go see him after not seeing him for years. I was on a trip with two other Hurley Hawaii boys, Barron Mamiya, and Kaulana Apo. We ended up surfing two days of it, and the first day was small. The bigger day, I was watching the boys do step offs and I was on the back-up ski. And some words from Uncle Garret convinced me. Since I rode that wave at Nazare, it did open my eyes up for a new opportunity. With all the traveling and events, it was really hard for me to focus on big waves. I hope to see myself getting into it more soon.  

What do you do when youre not surfing? Youre into Ginastica Natural, describe what that is and how you got into it?
I train and teach a lot, other than that I like to eat and bake. Even though I have failed at my bread baking skills lately. But Ginastica Natural, which is some movements from Jiu Jitsu and Yoga. Kid Peligro and I teach on the North shore, and Kid has shaped the training regime more like surfing. Which is super beneficial for surfers, but as an instructor I see a lot of people who aren’t surfers, love it. 

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
On tour still, and won three world titles. I see myself creating new goals, and hopefully keep winning. 

What motto do you live by?
Live in the present, don’t waste your time thinking about the past and the future, and hoping for something to happen. Just do what you can do now, and take every opportunity.

Follow Mahina on instagram and check out Mahina’s Ginastica Natural on the Vitamin Sea Collective here.

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