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Breaking Through: Griffin Colapinto

Griffin Colapinto has been making quite a name for himself at the Hawaiian Pro. The 18-year-old started his strong rookie Triple Crown campaign by winning both his Round Two and Three heats at Haleiwa. On Tuesday though, he made headlines with a massive inverted air-reverse at Haleiwa. It happened in the dying seconds, and was key to his dramatic Round Two win. But despite an overflow of attention and praise, Griffin is keeping his cool.

Griffin Colapinto wins heat 9 round three of the Hawaiian Pro Griffin's Hail-Mary air earned a Round Three win, but knocked out one of his San Clemente mentors, Tanner Gudausakas, in the process. WSL / tony heff

Colapinto grew up in San Clemente, one of the deepest talent pools in surfing. It's a place that packs more pro surfers per square mile than just about anywhere else in the world.

Griffin Colapinto wins heat 9 round three of the Hawaiian Pro The 18-year-old's mature approach in powerful surf has paid off at Haleiwa. WSL / tony heff

If there's even a whiff of south swell in the water, the San Clemente crew will be at Lowers pushing performance levels through the roof. Griffin has been in the mix there for his whole life, and groomed his smooth, progressive style among local standouts like Kolohe Andino, the Gudauskas brothers, and an endless list of up-and-coming groms. More recently, an influx of international icons like Jordy Smith, Caio Ibelli and Filipe Toledo have done well to keep the locals on their toes. For Griffin, watching these guys blow up in his backyard made surfing a realistic career path. The challenge was standing out.

Griffin Colapinto finished second in his Quarterfinal heat. Doing airs at Lowers can only get you so far, and Griffin's commitment to heavier waves on the North Shore has set him apart. He won the Pipe Pro Junior earlier this year. WSL / Kelly Cestari

Thanks to his tenacity in that local pressure cooker he saw fast results, and he isn't wasting any time making his push onto the Championship Tour. After a dominant Junior career, he has decided to go all in on the Qualifying Series in hope of landing a spot on the CT. After watching Kolohe Andino qualify at an early age he intends to follow suit. His recent third-place result at the Hang Loose Pro (QS6,000) places him at No. 40 on the QS ranks, and while the odds of making the cut this year are long, the Top 20 is just a few heats away.

Griffin Colapinto (USA) .Acores16 Colapinto came into the Triple Crown carrying momentum from a huge third-place finish at the Hang Loose Pro. WSL / Laurent Masurel

Griffin has already shown he's capable of transferring his Trestles progression into much thicker surf on the North Shore.

Finalist Griffin Colapinto (USA) qualified for the World Junior  Championships in Cascais, Portugal - earning three Finals appearances and winning the Vans Open Pro Junior. Growing up with guys like Kolohe Andino, Griffin's style was under constant scrutiny, and that extra pressure has paid off. WSL / NATHANIEL HARRINGTON

Knowing Griffin, he won't let his foot off the gas. Whether he's cruising in San Clemente or competing for a spot on Tour, he will always have a heavy talent pool around to push him toward his ultimate dream.

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