Tahara, Japan (July 28, 2013): With 1 minute left in the Semifinal #1 Heat, Kylen Yamakawa is behind Shun Murakami and needs a 6.21 score to advance into the Grand Final of the biggest International surfing event in Japan, the ASP 4-Star WQS Billabong Tahara Pro. With the announcers counting the heat down, Kylen paddles into a wave and executes the biggest Air Reverse of the Event! The judges reward him with a 7.0 and he earns his spot in the Final of the Billabong Tahara Pro. He's tackled with hugs by travel partners Cole Yamakawa and Kai Matsumoto on the beach and during his post-heat interview, Kylen is overwhelmed with tears and emotion of accomplishing a lifelong dream of every pro surfer, making the "podium" at a big pro surfing event.
"Making a (pro surfing event) final was the goal of my life," says Honolulu's Kylen Yamakawa. "I"m so embarrassed I got choked up."
There is nothing to be embarrassed about when you hear his story. Iolani graduate, Kylen Yamakawa, is now a full-time student at UH Manoa and wakes up 3 times/week to cross-train with Kimo Middlesworth at Kamehameha before school at 6am. Unlike his peers, who are full-time pro surfers with the financial support of big corporate sponsors, Kylen saves his travel money by working 2 jobs as a waiter at Ruth Chris and an Assistant Sales Representative for companies like Skull Candy. Instead of waiting for a big sponsor to approach him, he wants to prove himself to the surfing world that he can be a successful pro surfer, as well as getting a bachelor's degree. Kylen is a true inspiration for all college athletes that dreams do come true with hard work and determination.