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Talking Story with Turtle Bay Pro Junior Winner Noa Mizuno

Posted on Tue, 2016/10/18 - 4:34pm by Jeff Mull

At 17 years old, Honolulu’s Noa Mizuno is quickly making a name for himself in the surf world. Not only has the high school senior earned himself a reputation for being utterly fearless in waves of consequence, but it’s his lighting-quick backhand in small surf that earned Noa a place on the podium at the Turtle Bay Pro Junior event earlier this month. In the interview below, Noa discusses his game plans for the coming winter season, how this win stacks up against other achievements, and competing in the Triple Crown for the first time. 

Talk to me about winning this event.
It was pretty much the first legit win of my career. It felt pretty surreal. All of the hard work that went into it finally paid off. It’s just good to know that hard work does pay off. I watched Keanu Asing with his 'CT win and I was getting psyched. It didn’t really hit me that I’d won when the horn went off. I was still in heat mode. But the morning after I woke up and let it sink in. I’ve been wanting this forever. Seventeen years and it’s finally happened! Hopefully it’s the start of more good things to come. I sure wouldn’t mind standing up on that podium again. I learned a lot from this win and hopefully I can use that knowledge moving forward to get a few more wins. 

How does this win stack up against other achievements?
I’d definitely say it's at the top. As much as I hate losing in a surf contest, I think wining a contest is bigger than anything else. I just love to compete. I love to freesurf as well, but winning an event is as good as it gets for me. Competition is in my blood. 

How was it going back to school after such a big win?

I actually try not to share too much of what I’m up to with my surfing in school. I like to just keep it mellow. Some of my friends congratulated me and a few others were really happy for me, but I try and keep school and surfing in different worlds. 

Does this win change anything in your career?
Hmm. After this win, my confidence as a competitive surfer has grown. I’ve qualified for the Triple Crown now, which is a lifelong dream of mine, and if I can play my cards right, I might end up in the Pipe Masters. I knew I had the ability, but to have this win has really strengthened my confidence. So for now the plan is to do the Triple Crown and, with any luck, make the tour one day.

So back to the Triple Crown. The first event at Haleiwa is right around the corner. What’s it gonna be like to compete in a series that’s so prestigious at such a young age?
It’s definitely an indescribable feeling. It can be really intense with those events. The surf can be really heavy at Haleiwa and Sunset. I have big ambitions and it’s my goal to make the Triple Crown Rookie of the Year this year. Last year, I missed out on competing in the Triple Crown because I was one spot shy of the ranking needed to get a slot. But I don’t think I was ready then, but this year I’m fired up. I feel like I have some knowledge of Haleiwa and Sunset and knowing the wave is so important. Locals always do well there. With any luck, I can do well there as well. But yeah, I'm just stoked to be in it. 

What were the conditions like at the event for the Pro Junior?
Pool Bars can be a really fun wave. It likes a bit of west in the swell. This one was a bit more north so it was a little shouldery, but it was still fun 3- to 4-foot surf. You had to find the good ones, but there were definitely some gems to be had. 

Yeah, the venue itself is pretty perfect.
Yeah, I feel that way for for sure. It’s a pretty amazing set up. You have a fun wave right there at the resort and you can chill in the pool or the hot tub between sessions. It’s a pretty amazing set up for sure. 

All photos: WSL / Freesurf