Stab Magazine | Year One

And The Winners Of The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Are... Watch The Pick-Up Episode 5, Presented by Vans, To Find Out


Year One

Being a rookie is shit. Sure, you’re on the dream tour and you’re surfing against your idols and you’re surfing amazing waves with one other guy. But you’re also drowning in a sea of spotlight, pressure and expectation, while trying to navigate new territory and put enough points on the board to prolong this hellish […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Being a rookie is shit. Sure, you’re on the dream tour and you’re surfing against your idols and you’re surfing amazing waves with one other guy. But you’re also drowning in a sea of spotlight, pressure and expectation, while trying to navigate new territory and put enough points on the board to prolong this hellish existence. It ain’t til a coupla years in, when y’get things dialled, stop elevating your competitors and start seeing them as equals, that things feel good. Or maybe that’s all wrong and being a rookie is as starry-eyed and enchanting as it sounds? Who knows such things? Kolohe Andino, Nat Young and Miguel Pupo know such things. For Kolohe and Miguel, the rookie year is still fresh in memory, like, last year, and far from being washed away. Nat is even fresher meat. 2013 is his first year in the big leagues. All three gents are evolving at each event, right in front of us. So, what’ve they drawn from all of it? Having just flown into Sydney from Fiji, and waiting for a connecting VA flight to Bali, Stab interrupted the trio at the airport.

Kolohe and a glorious swing through the evaporating light. ASP/Kirstin

Kolohe and a glorious swing through the evaporating light. ASP/Kirstin

Stab: Nat, how hard is being a rookie?
Nat: I think it’s pretty hard at the start, ’cause you surf against the top seeds. So, if you can’t get past that part, it used to be really hard, but if you can just break through that, then you won’t come up against the top seeds right away. It’s fun, though.

Kolohe: I feel weird sitting next to Nat, ’cause I didn’t make a heat for fucking ever. I think you’ve gotta get over the whole thing that you’re surfing against your favourite surfers, and realise that you wanna smash them. And once you get over that, you’ll have a better shot. I think that was the think about Gabriel and John John, they weren’t intimidated by the older guys at all, they just killed ’em.

How’d Nat get around it in a different way to you?
Kolohe: I think Nat trained so hard that he felt like he deserved to beat those guys.

The training thing is weird. Surfing seems like the best training for surfing. Do spectacular pectoral muscles translate to good surfing?
Kolohe: It just helps mentally, I think. Mentally, if you think you’ve worked harder or trained harder than the other guy, then you’re gonna beat him. If you think you deserve it… when I come up against someone like Mick, and he’s all trained out, i don’t feel like I deserve to beat him. And that’s why I won’t.

Do you train harder than everyone else, Nat?
Nat: Nah, I just go out there and surf. I think you can over-think it, it’s just another heat, really. It’s the same thing we’ve been doing since we started surfing in contests. You go out there and catch two good waves and surf them as good as you can. And it doesn’t really matter who’s in your heat, ’cause you can’t really affect how they’re gonna do. On that side, it’s all about doing what you can do.

Nat, learning things. ASP/Steve

Nat comin’ on like a steam train. ASP/Steve

What about this: Your Hurley team is so stacked. Did you feel like you had to over-achieve?
Nat: I guess that might’ve been in the background. I wasn’t like, out there to do good because I’m on Hurley and there’s 10 other really good guys on Hurley so I need to start achieving. It was just for me. It helped though, maybe.

Some people come on and everyone’s talking about them: They’re the guy. Then there’s other guys that sneak on and do it quietly. You seemed to fit the latter.
Nat: If you have the big expectations, you gotta fulfil them. It’s all how you take it mentally. All these people are saying all this stuff about you but that’s not why you go out there and make heats. It’s not for everyone else, it’s for yourself. You have to block that out, no matter what. Once you get to a certain point there’s gonna be expectations.

What regrets have you had as a rookie this year? Nat, have you had any?
Nat: I haven’t really had any yet. You look at heats when you lose them and think you could have done something better. Like, I gave Parko a 10 in Fiji but I didn’t know it was a good wave. It’s all learning and getting more experience as the year goes on.

How about you Miguel: any rookie regrets?
Miguel: I don’t know, I think every heat is a hard heat. There’s no easy heat. Even when you surf against a low seed, they can surf the best in your heat. That’s pretty dangerous. Every heat’s hard, and that’s the hardest part on tour.

Anything embarrassing or silly?
Miguel: I think my first heat on tour was at Trestles, and I was just sitting there on the outside and didn’t catch a wave. So, that’s pretty bad. My first heat on tour and I didn’t surf. I got a coupla 1s I think.

Miggy Smalls – Relax and take notes. ASP/Robertson

Miggie Smalls – Relax and take notes. ASP/Robertson

And you, Mr Andino?
Obviously I think when I broke my board in Fiji and all that. I regretted it, but I thought that three month period was the best thing that could’ve ever happened to me. (Kolohe punched the nose of his board and broke it in Fiji before flying back to California and copping an ankle injury) so I don’t really think of it as a negative. And, when I got injured. Those three and a half months were dark… I was so excited to be on tour and so excited to be around everyone, and then I would just lose. I wasn’t even focusing. I wanted to win, but I wasn’t focusing on my heat surf or winning like I was when I was on the ‘QS. So I think that, being able to handle it and find the right energy in my heats.

Anyone who was really hard on you in the beginning and then was really good to you?
Kolohe: There’s someone but I can’t remember… CJ Hobgood told me in Fiji that I shoulda lost my heat against Gabriel 10 out of 10 times. He’s pretty hard but he’s super cool. He was like, “What if I said that you had a 50-50 chance? Then that wouldn’t have fired you up for your Julian heat!” I was like, “OK, yeah, I’ll take it, it did fire me up.”

Nat: Nah, not really (before breaking into laughter).

You’re very bad at lying. How about you, Miguel?
Miguel: No, no one. Everyone was pretty welcoming.

Ok, then who’s been most kind to you?
Kolohe: Mick, for me.
Nat: I think Damien Hobgood. He’s been helpful, if I have questions or what not.
Miguel: I guess for me it was Adriano. He’s Brazilian as well, and my first year I travelled with him a lot. He was always just telling me to do stuff in my heat, be more focused and stuff. I guess he was most helpful.

Shirts optional on Tavarua. ASP/Kirstin

Shirts optional on Tavarua. ASP/Kirstin


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