[IMAGE 1] Cheyne Cotrell Age:
Weight: 170 lbs.
Homes: Deerfield Beach, Florida and Kommetjie, South Africa
Sponsors: Ezekiel, Oakley, Globe, Island Water Sports, OAM, John Carper surfboards, Rip Curl
A couple years ago I met this lanky, shaggy-haired kid with a strange accent in New Jersey of all places. Turns out he was visiting from South Africa for the best two weeks of waves the East Coast had seen all year. He had a permanent smile the whole trip—happy to be meeting new friends and sharing great waves with them as well.
Cheyne’s one of the most positive people you will ever meet. It doesn’t matter if he’s stuck in an airport for days or catching the best swell of the year, he’s always having a good time. Maybe it’s because he moved away from Florida’s flatness into South Africa’s empty lineups, or maybe he’s just grateful for being able to travel the world with his friends. Today he’s still the same lanky, shaggy-haired kid who’s grateful to be able to see and experience the world.—Seth Stafford[IMAGE 2]
Weight: 155 lbs.
Home: Papara, Tahiti Nui, French Polynesia
At the ripe old age of 23 and towing in for the third time in his life, Malik was towed into the largest wave ever ridden at Teahupo’o. You’d think that after all the attention and hype surrounding his glorious ride (he was interviewed by countless media outlets worldwide) his ego would explode. Not quite. Teahupo’o has a very forceful and brutal way of keeping its favorite sons humble and unassuming.
Malik is no one-trick pony and can be spotted ripping out at Teahupo’o and other coral-bottomed breaks in surf from two to twenty feet. If you do see Malik in Tahiti, Hawai’i, or anywhere else there are monster barrels, feel free to chat him up and ask him for some Teahupo’o survival tactics—he’ll be glad to help. If you’re nice enough, maybe he’ll introduce you to his Tahitian-goddess sister, but be careful, they’ve got an older brother who is a professional windsurfer.
By virtue of living in the most beautiful place in the world and surfing the best waves imaginable, expect to see plenty more of Malik in the future. Who knows, maybe he’ll break his own record the next twenty-foot day at Teahupo’o.—Justin Cote[IMAGE 3]
Weight: 171 lbs.
Hometown: Merewether, Newcastle, Australia
Sponsors: Electric, Globe, Pacific Dreams, Ocean & Earth
Mitchell Ross can dance. He surfs good, too, but when this hand-slapping, lip-synching dynamo takes to a busy floor, the movers part and let this kid do his thing. It’s not a breakdancing extravaganza, this groover’s got his own way of moving to the beat. Like his dancing, Mitch’s surfing is far from standard—an original style with the elasticity of Fanning and the power of his hometown hero Matt Hoy.
“He’s been surfing since he was twelve,” says Mitch’s mum, Rae. “Before that, he rode a Boogie board. Don’t print that, though.”
Once Mitch ditched the sponge and stepped up to fiberglass and foam, it was only a matter of months before he started bringing home trophies. After reasonable success on the Billabong Junior Series (now the Billabong Teen Series), the fiercest junior circuit in the world, Mitch graduated to the WQS and in his maiden year claimed a three-star victory at the Op Chiba Pro in Japan.
Although he doesn’t bank the sort of money he deserves, Mitch is lucky, he travels for much less than most. Get this: Mitch’s dad, Ronnie, is a longtime employee of Qantas, so the lad gets 90 percent off all his air travel. How good is that?? A flight to Hawai’i from Oz costs Mitch around 65 dollars—sweet bonus if you spend more than half the year jetting around the globe.
Now launching his 2003 qualifying campaign, Mitch is looking fit and focused. Will he make it all the way? Who knows? Some of the world’s best are still chipping away at the WQS stonewall. One thing’s for sure, if he doesn’t get there, he could always consider a career working podiums at Newcastle’s happening night spots.—Ronnie Blakey0