Shohara Shows He Has Drive to Succeed in Bodyboarding : Championships: The athlete from Ramoma may look like just another face in the crowd, but his performances show he can win in the water.
On a draw sheet of a major bodyboarding contest, Randy Shohara sticks out like a bronco in a thoroughbred horse race.
It’s not that he’s slow or wild or doesn’t belong, but Shohara, 20, didn’t start competing in bodyboarding until he moved to Ramona four years ago.
That’s right, Ramona; 2,400 feet above sea level and 35 miles from the nearest shore.
Saturday, at the 12th annual Morey Boogie National Bodyboard Championships, Shohora stuck out in a different way.
Competing as a professional for only the second time, Shohora dominated his quarterfinal heat and advanced to today’s semifinals.
Shohara’s first pro contest was in July. It was a qualifying tournament for this one.
There are only 24 pros competing for the national championship, 23 of them came from places like Hawaii, Huntington Beach and Virginia Beach.
And . . . Ramona?
While most of his friends and fellow competitors can roll out of bed and be on a wave within 15 minutes, Shohara must first endure a 50-minute trek down the mountain. He makes the journey nearly every morning, normally stopping at Seaside Reef in Solana Beach to train with Encinitas’ Paul Roach.
“It’s crazy,” said Roach, who edged Shohara in a preliminary heat, then was ousted in the quarterfinals. “I’d never want to do that. Never. And he does it every day.
“He actually likes that drive. He says it makes him want to surf more. He moved into an apartment (in Leucadia) one time, but he only stayed about two weeks. When he was closer to the beach, he said he didn’t want to surf as much. He uses that drive as a motivator.”
“It does motivate me,” Shohara said. “I’ll be driving along at 6 in the morning, and the closer I get to the beach, the more excited I get.”
Shohara, who is 5-feet-10, 135 pounds and part French, Japanese and Hawaiian, is no stranger to travel. He was born in Oklahoma City, Okla., and had lived in France, Hawaii and England before moving to Ramona in 1987. His father, James, was in the Air Force.
Shohara says he learned to read waves bodysurfing in Hawaii, but he rarely got on a board there. His passion then was motocross bicycles. In Hawaii and England and during his first year in Ramona, he was one of the top freestyle BMX riders in his age class.
“My brother (Andy) was a pro, and (trick riding) was really big in England,” Shohara said. “They have a lot of ramps and competitions over there. Plus, when we first moved there, I didn’t have many friends, so that’s all I did.”
Upon attending Ramona High, Shohara said he met a few friends who liked to ride, but they always wanted to practice at the beach.
“Pretty soon, I just started fading out of that and started bodyboarding every day,” he said. “Once you reach a certain point in bodyboarding, once you get to where you can read the wave, it’s really a rush. You can’t wait for the next wave or the next swell.”
Shohara reached that point early. About a year after starting, he began entering amateur contests and taking home trophies. Last year at the national championships, Shohara won the 17-29 amateur division.
Said Roach: “Even though he started late, he’s come along nicely. I’ve seen Randy do some hot stuff out there. He’s one of the best around, even though he’s still considered an underdog.”
Today’s final rounds begin at 7 a.m. on the north side of the Oceanside Pier. The professional class final is scheduled for 11:50 a.m., followed by the finals in seven amateur classes. . . . Defending national champion Jacky Buder of Hawaii and seven-time world champion Mike Stewart of Huntington Beach each advanced to the semifinals. . . . Paul Roach had the highest score (184) in the preliminary rounds. The lowest (36) went to another Encinitas resident. Canaan Mills was late getting to the beach and didn’t enter the water until only five minutes remained in his 15-minute heat. “There was some miscommunication, and my ride was late,” Mills explained. “Oh well, I still got some points, and there’s always next year.” . . . Because of the slumping national economy, the September issue of Bodyboarding Magazine will be the last of its kind. Bodyboarding, which had published eight issues each year from its San Clemente offices, will put out only one issue per year.