Kanoa Igarashi is a star on the rise. Part of a youth vanguard that features Jack Robinson, Leonardo Fioravanti and Mikey Wright, Kanoa has long been touted as a talent, and now he's starting to deliver.
After a big win in the Pro Junior at the Australian Open of Surfing we figured we were long overdue a catchup, and found the future hero online a hot minute ago.
Kanoa! Tell us where you are and what you’re doing with yourself?I'm in Australia at the moment at the tailend of a one month trip doing contests and surfing a ton.
I got one day of that incredible Cyclone Marcia swell. I was down in Newcastle for the contest for the most part and still can't get over the waves I missed.
You won Manly!
Yeah I'm really happy about that! It was my first contest of the year and I had a good feeling throughout the whole event. I was surrounded by a lot of my friends who have supported me all the way so it was nice for them, as well as me of course, to get the win.
The waves were small but there were some fun banks and it was super contestable. It sets my whole year up and I feel a lot more confident as a result of my win.
How did you think you went last year? What were your highlights?
Honestly, throughout the year I felt like I was having the biggest shocker ever and losing a lot of heats. It was making me really sad, but at the end of the year I looked back and I realized I had actually had a pretty decent year. I won my first QS and I got another QS second and third, all back-to-back, then I had a couple other seconds in juniors and whatnot. I can't be too hard on myself!
You and Leonardo Fioravanti are firm friends, how is he doing since he broke his back, and how scary is it to see one of your friends get hurt at Pipeline like that?
I was in disbelief when I saw what happened to Leo. I talked to him right before his heat, and we were planning on going to the Gold Coast after Hawaii because of the swell that was headed there. Then his accident happened and I knew straight away the plan was out the window. Leo's a strong kid mentally and physically, and he should be fine and come back hungrier than ever.
At this stage of your life do you place more emphasis on your results, or surfing great waves for the cameras?
It's so hard to say! I love winning contests just as much as getting an epic session with all my friends. There's no better feeling than getting big barrels and bagging clips and shots with your mates, but at the same time, winning a big contest is something everyone dreams about too. Either way I put 100% into both.
Where do you see yourself in a year’s time?
I wanna be scoring waves, enjoying my surfing, and having good times with friends and family. And, I definitely want to be in contention to qualify.
What else do we need to know about Kanoa Igarashi?
I think we've got all the bases covered, but I just really want to be known as a 17-year-old who loves to surf and enjoys his time traveling, competing and surfing good waves. People think I'm just some contest machine who will burn out in a couple years but I don't think that at all! I can't wait for the next few years.