Clay Marzo is one of the most talented surfers in the world. At twenty years old, he is sponsored by Quiksilver and is a member of the Young Guns, having been featured in Kelly Slater’s Young Guns II and III alongside other professional surfers including Adam Durrant and Dane Reynolds. He’s won the NSSA Open Men’s National Championship, Water Man of the Year in 2006, and was nominated for Maneuver of the Year in 2007 at the Surfer Poll Awards. He’s also the first to achieve a perfect score—all 10’s—at the NSSA.
In December 2007, Clay Marzo was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. It’s a form of high-functioning autism, with symptoms including difficulty managing social interactions and expressing oneself as well as a tendency toward obsession and a preoccupation with repetitive behaviors. Marzo’s preoccupation is surfing—and it’s possible that his greatest deficit is also his greatest strength.
While most people with Asperger’s syndrome lack coordination, Clay Marzo is exceptionally talented when it comes to surfing. His signature moves include many that are not technically supposed to be possible—a signature aerial reversal, for example, that has him bent over backwards so low that his hair touches the water before standing up straight on his board.
Marzo is known for scoring perfect landings on flips and other maneuvers that no other professional surfer could perform. Marzo grew up in Maui, about twenty feet from the beach. He was riding his own board by the time he was five. His older half brother, Cheyne Magnusson, was the recognized surfer in his family when Clay was a child. Cheyne was the son of Clay’s mother and skateboarding pro Tony Magnusson, and he was picked up by Quiksilver when Clay was still very young. Still, Clay’s gifts were obvious even from a young age—he won the statewide 200-meter freestyle at the age of ten, despite the fact that he hardly ever practiced swimming. By the time he was ten and eleven, he was winning his first contests.
Clay Marzo is a keen supporter of the Surfers Healing charity. He is a highly talented surfer with several prestigious awards and sponsorships already under his belt—and with his distinctive, fearless surfing style and eye-catching signature maneuvers, he’s definitely a stand-out athlete at even the most high-profile surfing competitions.