T&C proudly welcomes the newest member of our surf team, Noah Kawaguchi! Noah is a 19-year-old shortboard shredder from Hawaii Kai. He’s been on the T&C surfboards team for quite some time but has recently parted ways with his main clothing sponsor, Rip Curl, so T&C President Ryan Sugihara saw an opportunity to bring Noah fully onboard, with apparel as well as surfboards.
Noah grew up in Hawai’i Kai and was more into skateboarding at first, but with a little encouragement from his friends and his dad, he eventually got into surfing. He recalls, “I remember starting out at Baby Queen’s longboarding, but super reluctantly. I had this irrational fear of the ocean. But then I got my first surfboard for Christmas when I was eight and was so stoked. It was the first time I had my own board. It was actually a Glenn Pang Town and Country board, a little 4’9” toothpick that I totally wasn’t ready to ride yet, but after that, I was so stoked and was like, okay, maybe I do want to surf.”
Noah excelled quickly as he began exploring the reefs close to home and eventually got into surfing contests. “My first contest was the T&C Grom Contest, he explains. “I was in the 10-11 year old division and actually made the final. I got 5th place but was so pumped. I was just going straight down the line, but I remember the waves were firing with super light winds; it was so fun! Uncle Kekoa Bacalso was handing out goody bags that year, and Uncle Ryan was on the mic.”
In the following years, Noah’s surf zone would expand beyond the Hawaii Kai reefs, and his stomping grounds stretched from Makapuu all the way to Kewalos. As he honed his skills in the water, he picked up his first couple of sponsors. First with Sticky Bumps at age 11, and Rip Curl at age 12. He remembers, “Uncle Kaipo (Guerrero) hit me up one evening and said they had an extra spot on the team and asked if I’d be interested. I was like, are you kidding me? I was tripping out. I didn’t think I was close to that level, but was so stoked. That made me so happy and encouraged me so much to just keep it going, to keep having fun with it.”
Sometimes, simply having fun with surfing when there are sponsorships and expectations on the line can be easier said than done. In the competitive environment of junior pro surfing, many of today's youths are challenged with finding a healthy balance between the sport of surfing and their love for riding waves. Noah experienced this as many do and remarks, “I was always kinda hard on myself and just saw other people surfing way better than me. I felt like I didn’t deserve a lot of the opportunities I was given, and at times, I didn’t allow myself to have as much fun with it.” He continues, “That’s something I’ve definitely overcome. Not considering surfing as my everything anymore. It’s something I really enjoy doing, and through that, I just have so much more fun. I think I even surf better with less pressure on myself to perform.” Having less pressure seems to have had a positive effect. Noah took first in his division at the Local Motion Surf Into Summer’s amateur event, which earned him a spot in the WQS regional event at bowls. He says, “I actually really enjoyed doing contests this summer. I did three events, and all were super fun. I’d be stoked to keep doing events that I’m interested in.”
In this next chapter of life, Noah plans to prioritize school at UCSD where he’s majoring in finance. He also gets to surf a bunch. He remarks, “I’m loving it out here. It’s been great expanding my horizons and seeing the world out here while still being able to surf every day. It’s been super fun to get to surf a lot of different spots that I’ve never surfed before. I’m also enjoying the education and social life. I’ve got a lot of really solid friends over here. Overall, I feel like I’ve clicked into a really good rhythm with my schedule, my surf time, alone time, and time with friends.” He adds, "Yeah, and I'm so stoked to be on board with T&C! The T&C family is filled with great people who truly care for the community. I've always loved what the brand stands for. The boards are magical, and the clothes are rad. I am psyched to be a part of the family!”
T&C president Ryan Sugihara remarks, “It has been a pleasure watching Noah develop since his amateur days. His style and ability earned Noah an NSSA College Nationals Championship win earlier this summer. We are stoked to add Noah to our apparel and board team and provide continued support as he represents T&C Surf through his college years. We look forward to his time home in the summer and winter months and are proud to have him representing T&C Surf and spreading his "STOKE" in California and Hawaii."