Huntington Beach's Kanoa Igarashi has accomplished a lot in his surfing career at the young age of 24.
He was a US National Champion at 14.
He was the youngest rookie on the tour in 2016 at age 18.
He won his only Championship Tour event in 2019, when he took down the Corona Bali Protected at Keramas.
In 2020, he competed in the Tokyo Olympics (on the same beach his dad grew up on) and won the silver medal for Japan (he holds dual citizenship between Japan and the US)
Now, Igarashi is preparing for his first World Surf League finals that will be held at neighboring Lower Trestles in San Clemente, a place he has surfed many a times growing up. How did he get there?
Well, that's a story in itself.
It came down to a dramatic heat of the final event of the season, The Outerknown Tahiti Pro held less than two weeks ago. Igarashi needed a victory over Jadson Andre to clinch the fifth spot in the top 5 finals. He trailed the heat with 2:14 left when he got the wave he was hoping for.
Igarashi surfed it flawlessly and needing a 7.41 to win, received a 9.70. With the win, comes a #5 vs #4 matchup at Lower Trestles. Who is number 4 he will be facing?
It is Brazilian Italo Ferreira, who Igarashi lost to in the Olympic final in 2020.
Revenge on his mind? What did he think of his winning ride in Tahiti? Being the ultimate professional that he is, Igarashi keeps everything in perspective. I caught up with him at Huntington Beach and had a one-on-one with the man himself.
Eyeonsurfing: In your final heat at Tahiti, the announcers called it a career defining heat. Did you feel that way?
Igarashi: In the heat of the moment. you just think about the heat in front of you but now that it's over I look back, I know that was a huge moment for me and I'll never forget it.
EyeonSurfing: You needed a late wave to do it and you got it.
Igarashi: Yea, I told myself if the wave comes, I've been training for this my whole life, and I'd be ready for it. Thankfully, the wave came in and the rest is history.
Eyeonsurfing: Now in the finals, you have Italo first. I'm sure you know him well.
Igarashi: Yea we have had some good heats together so this should be another one. I'm sure we will end up having 200 heats together at the end of our careers. You just try and put-up big scores.
Eyeonsurfing: How excited are you that it's here so close to your home?
Igarashi: I'm so happy. It's so good to have a big event like that here. We've been missing a big event like that in California for a while on the tour. It's nice to have it at Lowers, it's a great way to pay respect to a place that has done so much for surfing.
Eyeonsurfing: How will you be preparing for the event?
Igarashi: I'll go back and forth between home and there, hit the gym get in the water and get my cardio up.
Eyeonsurfing: Then the week after the finals you have to ISA World Games at Huntington Beach. Should be quite a two-weeks for you.
Igarashi: It will be. It's the first of the qualifiers for the Olympics so yea I'll just try and stay healthy and stay on top of it.
The Rip Curl WSL finals has a window from September 8-16 and the one-day event will take place when the wave forecast is the best. Here is the men's and women's championship brackets.
Men #5 Igarashi (Japan) vs # 4 Ferreira (Brazil), # 3 Ethan Ewing (Aust), # 2 Jack Robinson (Aust) and # 1 Felipe Toledo (Brazil)
Women # 5 Stephanie Gilmore (Aust) vs # 4 Brisa Hennessy (Costa Rica), # 3 Tatiana Weston-Webb (Brazil), #2 Joanne Defay (France) a # 1 Carissa Moore (Haw)