Axel Eaton admitted his trip to South America last summer was an eye-opener.
At the urging of his mom, Eaton, a Newport Harbor High student, joined Waves for Development last year, and was struck by the level of poverty when he took a trip to Lobitos, Peru.
Waves is an organization that combines surfing with volunteering in downtrodden communities — surf volunteerism — to help the people of those communities in both social and economic ways.
Last year, Eaton spent three weeks in Lobitos, teaching surfing to locals, teaching English to third graders and planting trees. But his personal project was the development of a local surf shop.
Waves provided the funds and Eaton would help start the surf shop, knowing that it would be successful because there were no other surf shops in town and Lobitos is known for attracting touring surfers from all over the world, particularly throughout South America.
Next month, Eaton and a few surfers from the Newport Harbor High surf team will make the trek back to Lobitos for four weeks to check on the surf shop and participate in a variety of other volunteering efforts.
"The shop has generated so much profit that it will cover the cost of a part-time college degree for the organization's financial manager," Eaton said in an email. "A portion of the profits is also being used to provide private English classes for five locals so as to create more opportunities for them long term."
Eaton, 17, said that the benefits of building successful businesses include more than just the direct financial gains. It also creates a sense of inspiration and determination, showing the locals that they are not destined for a life of poverty.
"Henry, a local 18-year-old, was trained by a Waves volunteer to take pictures of the surfers in the area using a donated camera," Eaton said. "Using the surf shop's widespread attraction, Henry is now able to sell his photos to the tourists who come to surf his local break and makes a significant profit.
"This is a technique the organization uses throughout the community. They show the youth of Lobitos the sustainable business possibilities they have, so they can choose to not continue with their family's unreliable industry of fishing. The effects of the organization's presence are endless."
While he's there, Eaton also will help with the distribution of water filters, part of the Hurley H2O project that aims to provide clean, drinkable water throughout the world.
Oh, and there will be some surfing as well. One of Eaton's traveling partners will be Shelby Detmers, the Newport Harbor High surfer who placed second in the nation earlier this month in the NSSA championships.
While in Lobitos, Detmers will surf in the Assn. of Surfing Professionals Movistar Pro presented by Rip Curl, an women's 6-star event.
For more information on Waves, go to wavesfordevelopment.org.
Quiksilver put on the King of the Groms USA event on Monday at 9th Street in Huntington, open to surfers ages 16 and under.
The contest pitted 64 competitors in a "skins" format made up of 15-minute heats, with each heat winner awarded $100 per skin, and the overall winner getting a trip to compete in a global King of the Groms event in France during the ASP's Quiksilver Pro France in September.
Daniel Glenn of New Smyrna Beach, Fla., won the event, winning six skins for $600 and the trip to France for the global King of the Groms championship.
Speaking of groms, the Surfing America USA Championships were held last week at Lowers, and a couple of locals won big.
Huntington Beach's Kanoa Igarashi, just 14 years old, won the under 18 division title.
"This is my first USA Championship win," Igarashi told surfertoday.com. "I've never even won my main divisions and to win in the older division is amazing.
"I knew I had to surf way beyond what I normally do because these guys are bigger than me and have more power. I can't overpower them, so I stuck to doing airs and came out on top. I'm pretty stoked."
Costa Mesa's Meah Collins won the under-14 championship, and you'd better get used to hearing her name. She continues to stand out among the girls her age, and it doesn't hurt that she's the daughter of former surfing pro Richie Collins.
JOE HAAKENSON is an Orange County-based sports writer and editor. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun