Have you seen this guy? If you frequent the surf breaks in Kill Devil Hills or Kitty Hawk, chances are you've caught a glimpse of him waxing up his board out the back of his black Cherokee, making a beeline for the beach, or shredding whatever the ocean is serving up on any given day with the local heavies.
Quentin Turko, aka QT, leads the pack of the next generation of Outer Banks surfers with an ease and maturity that belies his age. At 17, he currently dominates the East Coast contest circuit with two ESA championships to his name and an Eastern Regional title as well. His boards are covered with stickers from his both local and international sponsors: Lost, Sanuk, Xcel, Future Fins, Prolite, Secret Spot Surf Shop, and The Spot. You get the picture, right? The kid's a pro.
Quentin was 5 years old when his family moved to the Outer Banks and his father Joey bought a surfboard. It wasn't long before young Turko was borrowing Dad's board, monopolizing it on beach days, and catching surf on his own whenever he could. Homeschooled since kindergarten, QT never had to worry about skipping school -- he could catch up at night or after the swell was over -- and as a result he's logged in quite a few more surf-hours than most kids his age. Encouraged and mentored by former OBX surf-dogs Brad Musselman and Hunter Romeo, and photographed obsessively by both his mom Debbie and, in recent years, local lensman Jon Carter, Quentin has had what you might call an excellent education for an aspiring pro surfer. "Everybody has been so supportive of me -- my family, my friends, the older guys, my sponsors" he says. "It's been a great way to grow up."
QT surfed his first contest at age nine, and immediately picked up his first sponsor, Secret Spot Surf Shop. He credits owner Leanne Foster Robinson with helping him to navigate the contest scene, and for encouraging him to take his surfing seriously.
In a time when so many surfers are eschewing the contest circuit to travel the world as free-surfers, bringing photographers and videographers along to exotic locations and shooting movies and magazine articles, Quentin remains committed to the competitive aspect of the sport. "I think it's good for my surfing. Sometimes I go all the way to the finals, sometimes I get knocked out in the first round. You just learn to make the best of every crappy little wave or whatever the conditions are."
Spoken like a true Outer Banker.
When asked about his ambitions, Quentin replies, "You know, surf, travel, compete, live the dream." No doubt the next decade will probably see Quentin surfing much more on the international scene than at the local breaks, but he'll always be a welcome face in the Hayman Street parking lot, or in the lineup at Avalon pier. Keep on truckin', buddy.