Kanoa Igarashi won his first CT event title today after taking down a stacked field of veterans, including 11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater in the Semifinals, Adrian Buchan in the Quarterfinals, and Jeremy Flores in the Final. With all of his opponents today holding a minimum of ten years over him, 21-year-old Igarashi was fired up to earn a big result on Finals Day.
“It all makes sense,” Igarashi said. “All of the hard work you do makes sense after this. My first round was so terrible. I didn’t catch any waves and I was just thinking what is the point of all of the hard work you do, all of the one percenters, all of the time in the gym, all of the time alone and surfing alone and now it all makes sense. This means so much to me. I can’t even find words to describe it.”
Igarashi is the first full-time competitor to formally represent Japan on the Championship Tour. Igarashi’s victory today not only marks his first CT win but also the first win for a surfer representing Japan on the CT. Igarashi moves up to 2nd on the Jeep Leaderboard and is one step closer to achieving his dream of representing Japan at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, where surfing will make its Olympic debut.
“Every heat meant a lot to me and I wanted to give my all no matter who I was up against,” continued Igarashi. “No matter what the conditions were like, I just wanted to adapt to the conditions and throw everything at it. From the first round to the Final, I surfed the same but then I feel like in the Final I peaked and I did everything right. Sharing the Final with Jeremy (Flores) was an honor and that Semifinal with Kelly (Slater) was so good. Every heat gave me so much purpose to do my best and to now have my first CT win this early in my career…it means so much.”