A few weeks ago, when Kanoa Igarashi and Jeremy Flores faced off in the final of the Bali Pro, I was struck by the similarities. Both are supremely driven and confident while carrying the flags of surfing cultures under-represented on tour.
Jeremy has carved out a career as a barrel rider and power surfer. Someone who can always be counted on to finish well when the stakes are, well, scary. He’s made a career out of surfing fantastically at places like Pipeline and Tahiti and Fiji (when it was still on tour). Watching Kanoa beat Jeremy in that final (by the slimmest of margins when a single score went his way), it’s easy to see that the Huntington Beach, Calif.-raised surfer has all that and more. He can open it up on the face, he can ride big barrels as he’s proven at the granddaddy of all barrels, and when he needs to, he can bring out a sophisticated air game. He has all the makings of a world champion. But as we’ve seen with so many crazy-good surfers – like Jeremy – winning a world title is a really tough thing to do.
Listen to Kanoa talk, as we did last December on the North Shore, and it’s clear that he’s got something else pushing him. Something that might just give him an edge as he works to become the first surfer of Japanese heritage to win a title. He’s got fear. Fear of losing what he’s worked so damn hard to attain. Following his win in Bali, we quickly cued up this interview so you could get to know him as we did: one helluva good surfer scared of losing it all.