We met Charley Hajek (a.k.a. Gnarly Charley) at Surf Expo last January. When he stopped by the Turq booth, it was like a frantic wave of kinetic energy and exuberance followed him. I thought, “this guy is either nuts, or the coolest dude I’ve met in a while”. Turns out it was the latter.
When he was 8 years old, he started surfing in Daytona Beach in 1970. In 1983, he won his first E.S.A East Coast Surfing Championship, and has since gone on to chalk up a dozen more titles.
In 2006, Charley began the Gnarly Charley Groms Surf Series in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. He’s taken on the awesome challenge to build a program and teach kids from 6-15 years old how to surf competitions. “I want to help groms out in contests so that when they surf E.S.A (Eastern Surfing Association) or N.S.S.A. (National Scholastic Surfing Association), or any other contest, they will have the confidence to do well. A lot of groms surf in their first contest and get blown out because of this situation. The Surf Series gives kids a chance to build their self esteem, increase confidence, gain respect, improve athletic ability, and most importantly make new friends”.
Hajek teaches kids the do’s and don’ts of how to succeed in advancing to the next heat in a contest. The Gnarly Charley Surf Series also focuses on helping groms understand that it is important to be surfing for the fun as well as good sportsmanship.
Charley’s main objective is to groom the kids to be excellent competitors, and become well-rounded individuals. “…it is important for groms to associate with good role models and have as many positive outlets as possible. This will help keep the kids off the streets and out of trouble. You can’t get into any trouble in the ocean!”
When I asked Charley if he is having as much fun as it looks like in the photos, he said, “Nope. I’m having way more, the photos don’t do any justice to the fun I’m really having”.
Turq is stoked to be a sponsor of the Gnarly Charley Groms Surf Series this winter. So if you find yourself on the east coast of northern Florida, check out the schedule on his website and drop by to join the party.