Words by: Sean Reavis
“It's all about style!” - and that phrase is heard all over and in more than a few languages. You can be good, and you can be equal to others that are good...but style, now that's what makes our jaws drop and keeps our eyes glued. "Sometimes style is determined by the aggressive level shown, sometimes it is more about how smooth and focused movements are made from one to another, and when we get lucky, it is when you see the combination of focused smooth aggression." Usually “sick” is the term that has replaced “wow” - but no matter what the word used, we are all usually fully impressed. Recently, we made a visit to one of our favorite places, Austin, Texas, to visit some of our favorite people, and the extremely talented Raleigh Hager. She showed us what having style was all about! At the promising age of 14, with many 1st place titles, including 2 World Championships, seeing so much style with so much career left truly had us saying “sick” - Raleigh Hager is steezing up the arena!
Her father, JB Hager, attributes her incredible style and growth to time on the board. He himself has a schedule that supports her training. As a well known radio personality, he is able to go get his work accomplished before Raleigh gets out of class. Her school is conducive to the process of evolution as well; purposefully allotting time each afternoon for career/sports. She literally practices everyday, and it shows. She has been surfing since 5 years old and has as many titles as years under her belt/leash/whatever. The fact that she can practice so much in Austin has got many stepping up their game. She is now a Tige Team rider, and her board designer has now gone independent as BluSurf. She's been mentioned as the “One to Watch” - and I can't stop watching all that style.
The elements for a proper run at this year's title are all in place. Raleigh has a great board designer involved in her growth at every turn/carve/swerve. Jonathan Matthews, has a leading billboard model with Raleigh, who shreds his artwork all the way to the podium. She in turn gets to have his sculpting mind make any tweaks and changes that she needs. As she gets older and ever more styling, she'll have different needs from her boards. Whatever he's done in the past is working in tandem with her practice regiment. On our visit to Austin, she jumped into the frigid winter water, without a wetsuit and time stood still. She was ever cognizant of the wave shape, and knew just what she needed. As soon as her dad made the change, and the wave looked ready, it was like someone let loose a legend. She sped up to the lip and boosted so high and so fast that when she landed, she would slam thru the face of the wave. She carved so steezy and aggressive that she'd reverse a slash off the lip, and immediately peel back down the face for speed and boost off again. It was like being up close and personal with an ocean surfer because the speed she put into her tricks. She's in a great zone for many reasons! Recently joining the Tige Team and Tige Family makes her happy, because she considers their boats beautiful and their waves to be sick; and confidence of what makes your wake is key. She also loves that her board designer is focused on being Eco-friendly, and the response time he gives her for the changes she needs made. Add all of what I just described together with her experience and allocated board practice this season, and you've got the recipe for another run at the world title. Bonus – a surf park right in her very town of Austin , officially called NLAND Surf Park, is about to open soon! We all see this just getting bigger and better. She's going to be something else as she grows and evolves, and we are sure to follow the journey! Steeze on Ralz!