For any aspiring pro, that first winter pilgrimage to the North Shore is both an exciting and a daunting endeavor. But it’s a little less intimidating if you’ve got a world-renowned mentor at your side. This February, Garden State up-and-comers Jessica and Casey Kwiecinski were joined on their first voyage to the islands by New Jersey legend Dean Randazzo, who spent a week coaching the twins and helping them to glean the most out of their experience before they begin to tackle women’s WQS events this year. Here’s what the three had to say about their trip…
Casey Kwiecinski: “Jessica and I came out to Hawaii at the end of January, and Dean came out about a week after us for eight days. Jess and I are staying out here for a few more weeks because we really want to take the time to start getting this place dialed, and we know it could take years to do that. Having Dean come out here for a week was super helpful. He helped us figure out where to surf and when, and he gave us a lot of knowledge about all the breaks we surfed. I couldn't have asked for a better week. There were some smaller days as well as some bigger days and he helped us push ourselves out of our comfort zone. Unfortunately, it rained a lot, so we didn't get to shoot with photographers too much. We all hung out at the Body Glove house for a little bit and got to meet a lot of really awesome people. It was pretty cool meeting all the people Dean knows out here and having him show us around and coach us. He was very specific on our technique and how we executed things. He helped us a lot by having us practice things on land and then go and execute them in the water. We've worked with Dean a few times back home in New Jersey as well as a little bit out in California, and we couldn't have had a better person to help us out here in Hawaii.”
Jessica Kwiecinski: “It was super cool to have someone from back home out here to surf with us and help us out. Every morning he would come pick us up and we would surf the entire day. Dean was very helpful when it came to boards as well as technique. We would discuss a lot of great helpful tools like yoga, cardio, board selection, where to surf and when, and also how important it is to get work done even when the sun isn't shining and the waves aren't so great. We got a lot of fun waves, and it was cool to hang with Dean all week. Body Glove got a house right at Off The Wall, which was cool because everybody was around and in town. Dean really pushed us and helped us realize what we needed to work on. I'm really happy we got this experience, and it was a great time.”
Dean Randazzo: “I’ve been coaching for about four or five years. A few years ago, I did a camp in Atlantic City, and Jessica and Casey came down for that, so I started coaching them then. I’ve seen a lot of improvement in them. I think they kind of started surfing late, like when they were 12 or 13, so I think they have a lot of talent, just maybe not as much water time as some of the girls from Hawaii and Florida. But I think they’re gaining that right now. They really improved over the week that I was in Hawaii with them, that’s for sure. They asked me where they should take a trip to this year, because they kind of want to start to do some big contests like the ‘QS events, so they wanted to go somewhere to train, and I told them, “You’ve got to go to Hawaii. That’s the proving ground.” Hawaii is where the scene is, and it’s where the heaviest surf is. If you can surf good in Hawaii, you can surf good anywhere. The waves are so much more challenging, and the level of talent is through the roof.
“We got great conditions while we were there. The first day, it was solid 4- to 6-foot Haleiwa. We had one session that was like six hours long at V-Land. We probably ended up hitting 10 different breaks during the trip. I’d pick them up at 7:00 or 8:00 in the morning, and then we’d just surf until dark pretty much every day: multiple sessions, coming in for lunch and then going to a different spot. We were trying to get their flow down on a wave and trying to get them to push outside of their comfort zone in bigger surf, as well as working on some technique. They’re really driven, and I like coaching people who are driven and want to succeed. Hopefully they got to push themselves and learned some of the technique that I taught them, and hopefully they’ll be able to run with it. Plus, they got to see the other girls surfing over there and where the level is at, so hopefully that will push them and they’ll do well.”