If people are said to be a product of their environment, then Ethan Ewing is an outlier. Sure, his personality may reflect the same humility as his small-town upbringing, but his surfing is quite the opposite. It’s loud. It’s chest-puffed, and screams with confidence. It’s the type of surfing that walks into a bar, elbows the jukebox (Billy Squier’s “The Stroke” comes on) and calmly sips on a whiskey. No rocks.
But Ethan would never actually do that. He’s seventeen, a bit on the shy side, and sticks to what he’s comfortable with – which, at the moment, is surfing extremely well. He may be sixth on the QS, his style may be dressed in shades of A.I., but he holds no regards for ranks and references. His focus right now? To put on the blinders and work hard – an attitude far beyond his age. So we caught up with the young Australian during his U.S. Open debut to get a quick introduction, as we’re sure we’ll be seeing much more of him in the years to come.
Alright, let’s rattle off the easy ones. Full name, age, hometown?
Ethan Miller Ewing. Seventeen years old, and I’m from North Stradbroke Island.
Where’d you grow up surfing?
I mainly surfed on Straddie. It’s where I’ve lived my whole life and is a pretty amazing spot to grow up in.
And you come from a pretty big surfing family, correct?
Yeah, my whole family surfs as well as all of my close friends.
Do you think growing up a little bit secluded from everything on Straddie molded your surfing?
For sure. As well as the people there that I watched surf growing up, the movies, and my favorite surfers definitely shaped how I surf.
And who did you look up to growing up?
My older brothers for the most part. And then the guys in the movies I was watching like Andy, Bruce, and all those guys.
Were your siblings kind of your mentors or did you have other guys that guided you?
Yeah, it was mainly my two brothers and my dad that helped me. They’re still my biggest supporters and are the ones who I look up to the most.
What’s your crew like back in Australia? Who do you hang out with, surf with etc.?
Not too many people. Just my close friends that I grew up with on Straddie. We have such a tight community at home, it’s a pretty sick spot. (When I’m home) we just wake up and surf and hangout everyday together.
Is this the first year you’ve fully devoted to the QS?
Last year I did two or three 1,000s, but this is the first year that I’m not doing Pro Jr.’s. So yeah I’m just focused on the QS this year.
And it’s a pretty big leap coming from the Pro Jr.’s to the QS events…
Yeah for sure it’s definitely a big leap. But doing those QSs last year and the beginning of this year have really helped me get to where I’m at.
Going back to the whole Junior series, do you see a big difference between the American system and the Australian one?
I think the Australian juniors system’s a lot smaller than the one over here (in America). There’s so many kids surfing and growing up here, so compared to America, the Australian comps are a lot smaller – just not as many kids doing it. But yeah besides that, there’s not much difference really. There’s so much good talent coming out of both countries.
Do you have a crew that you travel with on the QS?
I usually just travel with my dad, but when my dad can’t go I try to stay with Jack (Freestone) and Stace (Jack’s coach/friend), and just all the Australians that are a little bit older than me. I try to travel with the guys that have already done the events and know where the best spots are and have good advice.
Right, and that’s a huge help hanging with guys that have just couple more years of experience and know exactly what you’re going through, huh?
Yeah, for sure. And just being around people that are equally focused and not going to go out partying and stuff like that.
Have you done the U.S. Open before?
No, this is my first one! And my first time to Huntington as well.
(Laughs) It’s pretty different.
Please, don’t judge. Seen any good stuff yet?
I saw a dog wearing sunglasses and a jacket the other day. That was pretty funny. But I haven’t really seen too many heavy things yet.
Is it a trip having little girls running up to you like a celebrity out here?
Yeah, (laughs) I’ve never had that before! It’s pretty crazy.