Competitive surfing can be like riding a bike -- a surfer can step away from competition for some time and return with everything he or she still had. Such is the case for Japanese contender Takumi Yasui as his electric performance in Round 3 at the Jack's Surfboards Pro eliminated defending event winner Hizunome Bettero.
The 20-year-old was away from competition for two years following his Junior Tour career, and one of the top Japanese amateur surfers who came up alongside Qualifying Series (QS) veteran Hiroto Ohhara.
"It feels so good to be back and I want to win this contest," Yasui said. "It's also really inspiring to see guys like Takumi Nakamura from my country have success here when he got runner-up at Shoe City. I wanted to stay busy out there and catch as many waves as I could to stay in rhythm."
"This is very similar to my homebreak in Chiba so I felt really comfortable. It breaks like this all year and works really well for training toward these events."
But, Yasui's fellow countrymen are no stranger to Huntington Beach's shores, and are not alone when they compete in these events. Isao "Tonma" Tomatsuri comes down from Central California whenever the WSL surfers are in town to help mentor the Japanese contingent. It's something he's been doing for 10 years, with a total of 15 years as a coach -- including the likes of event standout Jake Marshall in his early days.
Tonma knows the trials and tribulation that competitors can go through, something he saw firsthand with Yasui.
"I always talk about competitive surfing with my son and say the same thing to him as I do these surfers -- if you're not 100 percent sure, you need to take a step back," Tomatsuri said. "That's what Takumi [Yasui] did. He took some personal time away to be with his family and decide if it's what he wanted to do. But, now he's back and these guys are all having a lot of fun."
Tune in LIVE for finals day action from the Jack's Surfboards Pro beginning at 8:00 a.m. PDT, Sunday, March 25.