Senior Editor
Kei Kobayashi Is the Hardest Working Surfer on the Planet

Kei Kobayashi Is the Hardest Working Surfer on the Planet

The Inertia

Editor’s Note: This podcast is presented by our partners at WHOOP

When I sat down to talk with Kei Kobayashi, he’d just cut his hair in a mullet. He carried it well. He’d gotten the do as a way to let off steam after all the work, all the training and preparation he’d put in this year to try to make the biggest professional leap of his life: qualifying for the World Tour.

There’s not a single surfer in the sport that wouldn’t agree: Kei Kobayashi has put the work in. That he’s lifted weights early each morning at his gym in the Los Molinos Shaping district of San Clemente before pedaling down to Lower Trestles, stuffing himself into his brightly colored wetsuit and hitting the lineup for a cold training session. Even if the waves were terrible. That’s the grind and it ain’t always pretty.

Kei is hard not to root for. He’s got a chip on his shoulder. His older brother, also a gifted surfer, wasn’t able to qualify, wasn’t able to afford the grind to get to the necessary Qualifying Series events. So Kei wants to qualify for both of them. He’s been fortunate enough to get a few more breaks, get a little more industry support – which has made him grind a little bit harder to someday get the name “Kobayashi” on the back of a WSL singlet for a Championship Tour event (he’s currently ranked fifth in the Qualifying Series).

We talked about all the work, the training (thanks WHOOP), representing his family, how to handle a good razzing (for things like his brightly colored wetsuit) and more. There’s little doubt that Kei is one of the hardest working surfers on the planet. You’ve got to be to do what he’s doing.


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