Flamey Teen Bursting on the Scene by Nathan Rivalland
Sitting aboard the Jan Juc cliffs overlooking Bird Rock where many birds sit, colours of euphoria, colours of orange and red slide past my eyes, and you’d wonder what it would tend to be. Is the sun setting in the beautiful late evening sky, has a bush-walker wiped my sight, or maybe just maybe I’ve seen something amazingly spiritual and amazingly vibrant. Xavier Huxtable dances across the water on his surf-craft, slicing the pastel blue water into that of an oozing substance. When you see it, you’ll know.
That young man, Xavier Huxtable, is 16 years old and hails from Jan Juc, just down the road from Bird Rock where at many instances you will see him ripping through the surfing line-up. Born in Sydney to parents with serious educational and sporting prowess, Huxtable’s family made the move down to Torquay soon later where he started his sporting career.
“Growing up on the coast gives you so many opportunities in terms of surfing, skating and playing lots of footy.
I first started mucking around on a boogie board when I was about five years old, just down at Cosy Corner near Torquay Front Beach. When I got to about seven years old I got my first fibreglass surfboard and my dad Chris started to push me into a few waves at Torquay Point. Ever since then I've absolutely loved it”.
After graduating from his first surfboard Huxtable soon found himself on sponsorship deals most notably with surfing juggernaut and locally owned company Ripcurl.
“I was eight when I was lucky enough to get sponsored by Ripcurl. I was surfing in a local Torquay Boardriders club competition and we were on our way to the presentation and dad said to me 'If you had to choose one surf company to be sponsored by, who would you choose’? I was like straight up 'Ripcurl’. We were super close with the Wylie family who work and surf for Ripcurl which sort of gave me a really good opportunity to see what a great brand they are. Dad responded with ‘Well, Ripcurl want you to join the team!’
It’s been awesome ever since, they are a bunch of legends in there, it’s been so fun, and I am very lucky to be affiliated with such a great company”.
In the not so distant future Huxtable had aligned himself with Dragon Sunglasses, Reef, Modom Surf, Sharpeye Surfboards and Future Fins just to name a few, as his status grew not just in the local community but on a national and international level.
It wasn’t until Huxtable was about 14 that he really started to feel like he could make something out of surfing. Along with playing football for the Torquay Tigers and cricket for the Jan Juc cricket club, Huxtable certainly had his hands full, however surfing started to be the main priority.
“Probably when I was about 14 years old I started to really think I could have a crack at the pro surfing scene and trying to set my sights on hopefully making the World Surf League championship tour. Being around the Ripcurl Pro at Easter time at Bells Beach all the time because it’s so close to home as well as heading to Portugal at a young age for one of the major surfing events, I really got to see how the professional surfers go about and from that, I started to try and really get amongst it where I found a drive to push myself further in my surfing”.
Huxtable learnt to push his surfing further and further exceeding the work of his coaches Cahill Bell-Warren, Adam Robertson and Australian High-Performance Centre coaches Clancy Dawson, Tim McDonald and former Australian world tour competitor Bede Durbidge.
Once Huxtable started to put his mind to it, hard work paid off as Huxtable took out multiple event wins on an international scale as well as having his greatest win of his career thus far only a mere 5 months ago.
The story of that win, is just sheer joy to my ears.
The call-up to the Ripcurl Pro 2019.
“I got second in the Ripcurl Pro Victorian Trials for the second year in a row. The feelings were funny. I was really happy but obviously getting second again and missing out on that spot in the Ripcurl Pro again was a real bummer. But, to get my mind off it as such, I went down south towards Johanna with trials winner Harry Mann and filmer Zac Loveless to do some surfing and filming and we were talking about how Harry had been told there were a few injuries heading into the competition, meaning spots would open up. Anyway, on the way home, we got to Gellibrand and my phone started ringing and it was Ripcurl team manager Mark Flanagan. He told me that spots had opened up through injuries and that I would surf in my first Ripcurl Pro”.
“I just didn’t even know what to say or feel, I was just jumping up and down in excitement”.
Huxtable’s parents Tania and Chris were both at work when the call came through and had missed calls from Flanagan, who was obviously trying to ring them to tell the exciting news.
“After work, Chris picked up his phone and it was just bombarded with all of these messages. We didn’t know what was going on, so we decided to ring Mark Flanagan and he told Chris and we just couldn’t believe it! We were then lucky enough to see a video of Xavier getting the call down in Gellibrand which was posted on social media. It was just shock really. We obviously knew he had the chance to get into the main event by coming second in the trials, but we were just in awe by the whole thing”.
Xavier’s mother Tania recalls.
Any 16 year- old young man I could imagine would be completely overwhelmed by being in front of the masses who crowd the rocks at Bells Beach and it’s neighbouring break Winkipop during the Ripcurl Pro period. The cameras, the conversations, the pressure, the live television audience of millions that would be watching.
Not Xavier Huxtable. Not this resilient young man.
Huxtable advanced into the Ripcurl Pro main draw in a wildcard position where he met 11x world champion and arguably the greatest surfer of all time Kelly Slater, and current world number 1 in Brazilian dynamo Filipe Toledo in his first heat.
“After I got that call and knew I was in the competition, I was all sweet, but later that night I had so much adrenaline running through my body it took me a while to fall asleep. Luckily enough, the next day when the competition ran, and I was on the rocks at Winkipop before my heat, all the nerves went away. I felt as if I was just at a local competition at Winkipop where not many people were actually on the beach due to security rules. I also had amazing support at that time, working with former Ripcurl Pro competitors Jack Perry and Adam Robertson who were keeping me really grounded, telling me to treat it like a normal heat and just to go out and enjoy myself”.
Huxtable’s run in the competition was highlighted by almost taking out Kelly Slater in his first heat, where Huxtable surfed with immense maturity on the big stage. Unfortunately, Huxtable’s run came to an end in Round 2, however Huxtable earnt a lot of fans in the process.
Whilst being young, Huxtable just wants to enjoy himself and be the best possible person he can be. Maintaining a strong mental state and being there for his mates is a necessity and is very important to Huxtable.
“Obviously I’ve seen a lot of mental health advocacy through football players nowadays taking time off, and it’s easy to see that being on the big state whether it’s football or surfing can take a lot out of you. You can see that people are starting to really be there for others and helping those that are struggling, get back on track which is great to see. I just want to make sure I’m there for everyone when they need to talk”. Huxtable recounts.
From an outsider’s perspective everyone on the world tour looks to be very close which Huxtable truly sees as a positive where each surfer is there for one another and is available to chat.
“Everyone seems to be really accepting of one another on the tour nowadays, where they are just able to leave all that competitive spirit in the water and they are able to be really great friends and be able to socialise again outside of the water”.
In 10 year’s time, Huxtable hopes to be on the championship tour competing against the world’s best but as always want to stay grounded and be able to hang out with his mates and live life to the fullest. The odd KFC visit, or some pizza may be thrown in their somewhere after watching his beloved Geelong Cats kick some butt in the AFL or having some hot chips on the couch watching the Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash League of cricket with his mates.
What a young man.
What a young man.
Keep a lookout for this ‘fiery’ teen because Xavier Huxtable the surfer and the person is going places.
Words by: @nathan_rivalland
Photo Credit: Surfing Victoria
Video of Xavier, as part of the Rip Curl Hell Team can be seen here.