This past year, 15-year-old Rubiana Brownell of Avellanas made Costa Rica surfing history. The teen, in only her third year doing the sport, pulled off quite the coup when she became Costa Rica’s Women’s, Junior Women’s and Girls champion all at once in the 2018 Kolbi Circuito Nacional de Surf. No one that young had ever accomplished a national trifecta like that.

Brownell’s rapid learning curve in surfing came straight from the training that her dad, Trey, instilled in her. He himself was a two-time member of the United States national surf team before moving to Costa Rica. It was that competitive experience, plus what he learned during his time as a traveling free surfer, that he imparted to his daughter.

costa rica teen surf champion

“Since I started surfing, my dad taught me a specific style of competitive surfing that I believe sets me apart from my competitors,” Brownell explained. “That’s surfing vertically, powerfully and fast.”

With competition in her blood and once she mastered her own free surfing, Brownell entered whatever surf contests she could. At the start, in the case of the Circuito Guanacasteco de Surf, she would go for as many categories as allowed, which meant heats in Women’s, Girls, and … well, Boys too. Her aggressiveness in the water definitely helped in the latter division — often landing her on the awards podium with young male surfers — as well as those times when she collected trophies among female competitors.

‘To achieve my goals is a really good feeling. All the hard work and training has paid off.’

Brownell advanced in the Circuito Nacional de Surf quickly. After this year’s triple crown, she said she felt absolutely amazing. “To achieve my goals is a really good feeling. All the hard work and training has paid off.

Yet, she revealed, she has even loftier goals for her surfing future. Brownell hopes to win an International World Junior title, hit the World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS), qualify for the World Championship Tour, and maybe one day, win a World Title.

“I surf because it makes me happy. It’s always challenging me. As I achieve one goal, there’s another one right after. And just simply, I do it because of my love for the ocean.”


meet rubiana brownell surf champion costa rica


Athlete:  Rubiana Brownell

Sport: Surfing

Age: 15

About: Solid young surfer with a beautiful style, flow and speed that you rarely see in female surfing.

Sponsors: O’Neill USA, Surfing Republica, Camelo Bikinis, Cabinas Las Ola’s, Global Surfboards, Fisiospot, Selina, Pimiento Verde, Selva Azul, Avellanas Camp.