Imagine, if you will, that you have been on tour for three years. You’re 21 years old, and surfing has been the cornerstone of your life. When you were young, you watched in awe as Kelly Slater smashed record after record after record. You have exactly zero CT wins, and Slater has 11 world titles. In your mind, he is a legend. Unbeatable. Now imagine that you, as that 21-year-old, found yourself in a head-to-head heat with the GOAT. A huge crowd is on the beach, and untold thousands are watching online. The waves are absolutely perfect. Are you nervous? Probably. But Kanoa Igarashi channeled those nerves into a win against Kelly Slater at the 2019 Corona Bali Protected at near-perfect Keramas.
It was, of course, on his way to his first-ever CT win. After beating Slater in the heat you see above, he went on to meet Jeremy Flores in the final. By the time the heat was over, Igarashi was sitting on a score of 15.10, which was enough to send him to the top of the podium.
“It’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” he said. “I have so many people to thank, so many are sending good energy. I had a really good week, I feel I just did everything right. And when things are going your way, you run with it.”
See more from the World Surf League at Worldsurfleague.com