For Nick Riopelle, surfing is more than just a competition. The sport that was born right here in the Hawaiian islands has become a release, a lifestyle, a training tool, and a motivator for the transplant from Maryland.
After moving here in 2000, Riopelle made his way to the waves in Makaha. Though he had heard that things can be a bit rough from the local surfers, he took his board and paddled out head on into a life changing situation.
” I got out there and there was a group of surfers. They stopped me and one of them said that I couldn’t catch a wave until I had introduced myself to everyone. That really made an impact for me. I have lived by that rule ever since.”
Pic By: King Eddie
It wasn’t so much about learning his place so much as it was about knowing when to take the time out to become involved with the people around him. After all, surfing in Hawaii is a shared experience. People travel the world over and still claim that our surf culture here is unlike any other. This was the beginning of Nick’s transition into the surfing lifestyle.
Taking from his first experience, Nick dove into the local surf scene with goals in mind. He has consistently made his way to the podium in State and National competitions here. He feels that as a pro, continually holding his own within the top 5 of the competitions is more than gratifying. But as with every surfer, Riopelle still aspires to win that world title.
Though he loves the shortboard, Nick feels that the grace and style in longboarding keep him grounded. It is the best way for him to relax and surrender himself to the ocean while still being challenged to execute and compete. After all, he is a man with an entrepreneurial spirit.
“I really want to change the industry. It’s on my list of things to do. I want to make that innovation, invent that something, create that piece that changes the industry and makes it better for everyone.”
After instructing at UH for a while, Riopelle found how fulfilling surfing, and the lifestyle surrounding it, can be. He has made way around and met a lot of influential people in the industry, but more importantly heard their stories. Shared the water with them, and found combination of peace and determination alongside them. But it isn’t about who he rides with, or what his ranking is; it’s about the lessons learned and plans made.
“Surfing is the foundation of my life. It sets the tone for which path I will take.”
Nick Riopelle has found shades of himself in the water, that he applys to the canvas of his life. From his business mindset, to his inward realizations, Riopelle has found something in the waters surrounding Oahu. . . . a home.