Students Bring Fun, Low-Commitment Surf Club to Menlo


Izzy Banatao catches a wave at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch in Lemoore California. The Surf Ranch allows for people to surf on man-made waves, 100 miles away from the ocean. Photo courtesy of Izzy Banatao.

Ashley Grady, Staff Writer

Though surfing might not usually be associated with Atherton, students in the Surf Club are bringing their enthusiasm for the sport to Menlo.

Senior Izzy Banatao co-founded the Surf Club with senior Josh Eichbaum during their sophomore year. “I originally thought Surf Club would be a fun way to get upperclassmen to drive us to the beach,” Banatao said. She had no idea that the following year, 67 students would sign up for the club.

With such a large turnout, Banatao wanted to extend the club to help the community. “I widened the focus of the club beyond just surf culture and toward the environment, ocean awareness and beach cleanups,” Banatao said. The club organizes beach cleanups and surf trips and discusses relevant surfing events.

For Banatao, surfing is just a fun way to spend time, not a rigorous extracurricular activity; this is reflected in the low commitment level of the club. Since her dad is a big surfer, she and her brother, freshman Ben Banatao, learned to surf at a young age, when she lived in Los Angeles. Banatao goes to beaches in Santa Cruz or Hawaii, though her busy schedule prevents her from doing so often.

Jacqueline Bressie is also a senior in the Surf Club. She has been surfing since she attended a camp in La Jolla, San Diego when she was 6 years old. Similarly to Banatao, Bressie prioritizes school and surfs when possible for recreation. She prefers to surf in La Jolla over Half Moon Bay because of the warmer water.

Another Menlo student with a passion for surfing is freshman Luke MacNaughton. Though he originally learned to surf at 5 years old in Costa Rica, he found a love for the sport during his time living in Hawaii. He and his family moved to Kahala, Oahu for his dad’s work and lived there for around four years when he was in elementary school. When he was living so close to the beach, MacNaughton was able to surf almost every day, but now, living in the Bay Area, surfing is a rare occasion for him.

MacNaughton surfs when his family travels to Hawaii or Santa Barbara, but in his everyday life, he spends his time doing schoolwork or playing other sports such as football. Surfing is more of a priority for his dad and his 12-year-old brother, who is on the Half Moon Bay Surf Team. “What I really like about surfing is [that] obviously it’s pretty fun, but it also makes you feel very free, and you don’t have to stress about your daily life,” MacNaughton said.

Freshman, Dylan Mitic, has been surfing for 10 years—almost his entire life. Originally taught by his dad, Mitic used to surf competitively, but it was never a huge time commitment for him. Thanks to his world travels with his family, Mitic has surfed on a total of four continents. “I would say that the best place that I have ever surfed is probably San Sebastián in Spain,” Mitic said. Though he has surfed across the world, Mitic also likes to surf around the Bay Area, spending a few days a month at the beach surfing. To learn more about Mitic’s adventures around the world, check out The Coat of Arms online story by staff writer Parina Patel.