Caught between "California cool" and Japanese pop icon status, Kanoa Igarashi brings his own flavor to the Championship Tour. Growing up in Huntington Beach with full support by his family and long-time sponsor Quiksilver, Igarashi was poised for surf stardom.
Here's a quick backstory - as a grom, he breezed through the rankings, becoming a top-ranked amateur very early on. Then, at only 18-years-old, he qualified for the 2016 CT where he didn't lose a single time before Round Three. Finally, he ended the season with a runner-up finish at Pipe after taking down the GOAT. All the while, Igarashi was collecting a handful of QS wins on the side.
Igarashi surfs his heart out. He has ever since the early NSSA days of groveling under the Huntington Beach pier. He's fluid, quick, and precise. But he's much more than a professional surfer.
Multilingual World Traveler
Growing up in professional surfing means constant travel to every corner of the globe for contests, sponsorship obligations, side projects, and more. In Igarashi's case, he was bilingual from the start. Though he was born in California, Igarashi speaks flawless Japanese.
Then after spending time in Portugal, he learned to speak the language fluently and bought two homes - one in Ericeira and the other in Cascais. Igarashi spends much of the year training and surfing the wave-rich coastline Portugal has to offer.
Fashion & Philosophy
Like one of his best friends and fellow Quiksilver teammate Leonardo Fioravanti, Igarashi took a liking to fashion and dressing well. He won the "Athlete of the Year" trophy at the GQ Men of the Year awards in 2019 and has attended multiple fashion shows over the years. And he's always rocking that Dior swag.
If you haven't seen it yet, Kanoa's Instagram is worthy of your attention. It's got it all including insane surfing, training progress, travel stories, side projects, and gems of thought provoking one-liners. The dude drops wisdom on the regular and I recommend giving him a follow to spice up your feed.
Kanoa Igarashi has starred in Japanese reality TV since the age of 11. Various camera crews and shows have followed his growth on the Championship Tour and he's become a full-blown celebrity in Asia. Since then, the camera-comfortable surfer has been in a number of films and TV shows including Red Bull's most recent series, All In | Season 2.
"When I first started appearing on TV over here in Japan. I was the Japanese kid growing up in America, doing well in contests, and that's when I really started feeling that I had a lot of Japanese supporters and I really started to feel the Japanese inside of me start to become stronger," Igarashi told What Youth.
Future Olympian And World Title Contender
At the 2019 Corona Bali Protected, Kanoa Igarashi became the first Japanese surfer to ever win a CT event. This historic win changed him and his entire career.
"I knew I had prepared well and felt that Keramas suits my surfing, so to win it was this big, breakthrough relief moment where suddenly I was like OK, now I'm a World Title contender. I'd never felt that before. Not even close. That win has changed the way I compete, changed the way I train, and changed the way I look at myself in the mirror," Igarashi told us.
Later in the season, Igarashi went on to qualify for the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games representing his home and the host country of Japan. A deserving accolade to one of the most unique, entertaining, and well-rounded surfers on the Championship Tour.