Austin Finley is one hard man to track down… or so I thought. After winning overall Men’s Pro Am Title at the 2017 Revolt Summer Surf Series, the humble champion basically fell off the planet. We tracked him as best we could thru obscure emails & social media, but with no success. Who checks their facebook anymore? Apparently not this kid! Ha!
He was living with a group of friends in San Diego in the Fall – then he wasn’t. There were sightings over the Holidays & we heard he was living up in OC… but nothing concrete til now.
I have no idea why I didn’t call one of his sponsors until today – but yeah, I finally used my head & called our guy at Xterra Surf – Steve sent back with Austin’s phone number in about 2 min. – I feel pretty stupid.
Anyway, we got hold of the champ (finally) & he was gracious enough to give us a quick Q&A
Name: Steven Austin Finley (I go by my middle name)
Rank: I don’t know
Hometown: Del Mar, San Diego, California
Sponsors: Xterra Wetsuits, Superstix Surfboards
RIS: Current status (where you living, surfing, working?)
Austin: I live in Laguna Beach with two friends. I have been surfing Salt Creek lately, it’s a fun wave just crowded because its really the only place that is consistent round here during winter. I work a restaurant, just cruising right now, saving up to do some big surf trips soon…
RIS: Where did you grow up?
Austin: Del Mar, 25 th street, Shouts out to all the DEL MARTIANS
RIS: When did you start surfing?
Austin: At age 8, my dad would push me into waves, and eventually graduated to paddling and catching waves on my own.
RIS: When did it turn serious (competitive) ?
Austin: 14, I was playing a lot of baseball but it wasn’t really fun for me anymore, angry coaches, not the best teammates, losing records, etc. I was also surfing a bunch at the time and progressing, so I decided to put my competitive energy in something I really enjoyed.
RIS: What are your favorite breaks?
Austin: Del Mar, when its on there’s no one there… don’t surf there… it sucks 😉 C Street in the cove, probably one of the funnest waves on the planet, and tabletops, great wave.
RIS: Who were your big influences growing up?
Austin: The whole lost team for me was the greatest influence surfing wise, they surfed raw and energetic, huge Aaron Cormican fan, the Lopez brothers, and lately been a huge fan of Kelly. His flow is so fun watch, no kinks, I want to surf like that.
RIS: What are the highlights of your competitive surfing career to date?
Austin: I won a NSSA open mens at Salt creek, one of my most prized possessions is that dam plaque, I won the 2016 NSSA State College Contest at Churches in the dying minutes, that was exhilarating, and of course taking 2 wins and the overall ratings this summer at the Revolt Summer Series.
RIS: Tell us something about yourself that no one knows.
Austin: I don’t own a pair of sandals.
RIS: Do you want to talk about your dad? (His father is Steve Finley – former Major League Baseball outfielder, Padres, D-Backs, Braves, Astros… two-time All-Star, World Series champion, and five-time Gold Glove Award winner… no big deal. HA!)
Austin: Sure, it wasn’t like a thing, ya know? I was born into it so it was normal for most my life, but of course when I got older I started to grasp the reach of his career and the impact he had on so many people.
RIS: How was that? Growing up surrounded by greatness.
Austin: I think the coolest thing about it is how much people respect him as a hard working player. He was a people’s player and he worked his ass off to get what he has. Just goes to show what you can do when you put your head down and set a goal for yourself. Definitely, he’s been a huge motivation of mine… for sure.
RIS: Favorite memories?
Austin: Favorite memories would just be hanging with the relief pitchers and goofing off in the dugout. They wouldn’t have to play some games, so we would wreak havoc. I don’t know who caused more, me or them. Also, the 2001 World Series. One of the greatest series ever played. Game 7 bottom of the 9th. I haven’t felt that much energy since. I just remember the sea of white towels and everyone erupting when Gonzo hit that blooper over Derek Jeter.
RIS: What were your thoughts after taking the Men’s Pro Am Championship at the RSSS?
Austin: I’ve been working hard on my competitive surfing for a while now, so to be consistent felt great. I finally kept to a solid plan and surfed well when I had the chances.
RIS: What was your favorite memory of the events & who were your toughest opponents?
Austin: I think the best was the last final, the waves were so fun and everyone in the final had a chance to show up and blow up. It’s always fun when there’s plenty of waves to go around. And Jay Christenson is a tough guy to beat, probably the most consistent competitor. He’s always gonna get his, so to get a few off him is a feat in itself.
RIS: What are your thoughts on the recent state of competitive surfing on the West Coast for 2018?
Austin: Shambles, I’m glad that you guys are stepping up and putting on contest for us West Coast guys. It’s a real treat, seriously. But the WSL and it’s sponsors cant find anyone to sponsor multiple events on the west coast?!? There’s so much talent here and no opportunity, it’s sad. I’m just surprised there’s really only been like a few 1 star contests in the last few years. Whatever. You’ll find me at the Revolt’s every Summer, that’s for sure.
RIS: What are you looking forward to in 2018?
Austin: Wake up early, get barreled and surf as much as you can. Don’t forget, have fun and be respectful. Creed McTaggart said that in an interview with Stab and honestly it’s the best advice I’ve ever read.
RIS: Can we expect to see you defending your title at the Revolt Surf Series this summer?
Austin: Of course!!!!
RIS: Are you involved in any foundations, charities or fundraisers? Anything near & dear to your heart?
Austin: Our good friend and a former roommate of 2 years, Keegan Carrico had a horrible heart attack about 3 months ago, he finally got out of the hospital and is back on track to be back in the water soon. Still has a go fund me set up called Keegans new heart, he’s the biggest frother I know and I can’t wait to see him back in the water again getting us all psyched no matter what size it is.
RIS: Wanna give a quick shout out to anyone in particular?
Austin: My mom, she always pushes me to stay competitive and keep on it. She’s my number one fan and I’m glad she’s always on the beach cheering me on, no matter what. Thank you mom, I love you.
Austin: Hey thanks again for taking the time to find me!!! I appreciate it, appreciate that you guys take the time to give us amateur surfers a platform to compete.
by: Brian Terhorst