For a lot of surfers working their way up the ranks on the WSL Qualifying Series (QS) or pushing the limits on the elite Championship Tour (CT), surfing is everything. But for former CT surfer Nathan Yeomans, his family is No. 1. Still, the 36-year-old had a breakout win Sunday in Huntington Beach at the Shoe City Pro QS 1,000 pres. by ZEVN. It was his second contest back this year, and his first win in nearly 10.
Yeomans's win was especially meaningful after a year when his wife encountered problems with her pregnancy last year. After his win Sunday, he discussed the journey.
WSL: Your youngest daughter faced some hurdles at birth. Could you share what was happening?
Nate Yeomans: Our youngest was born 13 weeks premature, she was only 2 lbs 3 ounces back in July, so she was in the hospital for 97 days -- she's a little miracle. She was battling RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) and a lot of kids were dying from the flu last year so we had to keep her isolated. It's been really tough to deal with, but my wife stayed strong and our little girl is nearly clear of the virus season so we're really thankful.
I had lots of prayers going on, my wife had some pretty significant complications during the birth, but she's doing okay now. That first week was extremely scary. I took some time off to be with the family so [the Jack's Surfboards Pro] is my first event back and it feels great to get the jersey back on.
Now you're back in a jersey moving forward, but did that experience change the way you look at life?
You don't take stuff for granted anymore. Even the average days are a blessing after going through a hardship like that. It gives you a lot more in-depth perspective. It was a heavy chapter, but we weathered the storm. We came out stronger and God's blessed us -- we're really happy and very thankful for that.
Nathan's Early Career
Before those hardships, you built a life for yourself as a professional surfer. How did it all begin?
I'm super blessed with a great family. My dad was a concrete mason, and I would work summers pouring concrete. It was hard work, but it was a really cool first job that took a lot of you. When surfing came along, I think it pulled me into giving it everything I had.
It was always a dream [to be a pro surfer], but the reality of it didn't settle in until senior year of high school and I signed with Billabong, which was a dream come true. Shane Dorian was my favorite surfer as a kid, so to be on the same team Shane was on was a realization of the possibility. I was getting $200 a month, that was my pro paycheck, and Shane said the same thing, but then it snowballed into what my career became -- chasing the QS and finally qualifying for the CT.
You've been working in the industry now as well, what's your gig?
I am the Southern California Lost…Surfboards sales rep. So I have to deliver a custom board to Frog House and then head to Surfside after my heat today (following Jack's Surfboards Pro Round 2 heat win). There is a fun part about being in sales, it's a competitive environment and there's goals to be met -- and I enjoy that aspect. When I would lose a heat, I was a sour-puss for awhile, but I've gotten better there.
You're fresh off a win at the Shoe City Pro, what's next?
This is a huge momentum-builder and now I'm just hoping to get into the US Open, and put it to some of the world's best there. I'd like to take down the North America QS title as well, I know it takes a lot, but a win never hurts that cause.
If my family is doing well maybe I'll try and get to Portugal if I can get in. I just really want to do what it takes to get into that Top 100 again and give it my all. I still enjoy competing, I want to keep it up for at least one more year and see how it all goes.