Evan Valiere Interview

Kauai’s working-class ripper on his second chance at a surf career

| posted on December 14, 2011

Evan's wildcard into the Pipe event gave him a chance to show the world what most Pipe guys already know. Photo: Ellis

The recession of 2008 stripped surf team rosters to the bare bones, forcing many mid-level pros to face the reality of losing sponsorships and potentially giving up on surfing as a career. Some gave in, but others, like Kauai’s Evan Valiere, persevered. After finally solidifying a sponsor, Valiere recently put on an inspired performance at the Pipe Masters that left people talking. In the wake of the event, we met with Evan to discuss life as a modern-day blue-collar surfer.

Take us back to a year ago. Where were you?

I’ve been at the bottom a few times and had to make my way back up. But this time last year, it was pretty tough. I lost interest in the surf industry and was living back home on Kauai running surf lessons. I was sponsorless and was ready to let the whole pro surfer thing go and move on. I’ve never doubted my ability, but I thought the sponsorship thing might not happen. Now I am staying at the Hurley House on the 50-yard line on the beach at Pipeline, and things are great.

Can you talk to me about what it’s like hunting for a sponsor?

It’s tough, really tough. It can be really depressing. It’s like being out of work and looking for any job. You’ll spend a lot of time and effort trying to get a sponsorship, and most of the time you don’t even get an answer at all.

And about a year ago, you finally got one and signed with Hurley.

Yeah, I’d been trying to work something out with Hurley for a while and then it finally happened. It definitely makes life a lot easier, but living in Hawaii is really expensive. I still teach surf lessons. I pay for all of my own boards at about $400-plus per board and I get about 20 boards a year. It’s sort of a weird thing in pro surfing—once you get to a certain level, it’s a lot easier to move forward in the sport, but if you’re not at that level, it can feel like you’re always climbing up a hill.

You turned a lot of heads at the Pipe Masters last week and put on a really inspired performance that had a lot of people talking. Did it feel like a bit of redemption to you?

Thanks, I definitely feel I am here to stay. I was just very happy to be in the event and was really excited about the conditions. Surfing Pipeline with three guys out and getting to pick out the waves you want is a dream. I know I can win that event, and the only positive thing for me about not going all the way is that I will be back again next year, more hungry and determined for it.

How did you like being in the spotlight?

To be honest, I was having so much fun that I didn’t really even notice. But then I signed 10 or 15 autographs after one of my heats and I thought, “Wow, this is new.” But at the time I was just focused on the conditions and the waves that were coming in.

You’ve been labeled as being an underground guy. How does that sit with you?

A part of me actually likes it. I feel like I can connect more with people who surf just because they love it. And back on Kauai, there’s so many good surfers that have no recognition, it doesn’t really feel weird at all. But you know, the fact that someone is labeling you as being “underground” means that they know who you are…which is a little ironic.

You were riding a board at the contest with a Live Like Sion sticker. Were you guys close?

Even though we’re both from Kauai, we weren’t really all that close because there was about a generation of guys between us. But we became really good friends just a few years ago. There was a day where he and I were both at Pipe watching it from one of the houses and it was pretty big. This was a few years ago when the whole paddle-in movement was just starting up again. He and I were looking at some of the Outer Reefs and thought that we could pull it off. It was getting dark and we finally made the decision to go for it. We went out there and had one of the most amazing sessions of my life. From there, we went on to surf some other Outer Reefs and he basically put on a clinic and paddled into the biggest wave ever ridden. He was a good friend and I just really respected him as a surfer and a person. We shared a few experiences in the ocean that I will remember for a lifetime.

So what’s next?

I’m just winding down. That was the biggest event and opportunity of the year for me and now it’s gone. But ultimately I’m looking for the biggest barreling waves and some fun surf trips around the world. I want to show people that I’m not just a Pipe guy.

Video by Tom Aiello

  • Alicia

    Way to go, Evan! You’re doing an awesome job representing Kaua’i!! Keep it up! We’re all cheering for you!

  • John Maher

    Evan surfs so incredibly good and is so cool and roots. Great interview on an awesome surfer and person. Good to see credit where credit is due.

  • FloridaSurfer

    This guy’s a force to be reckoned with. And one of the nicest, most humble surfers in the biz. Mad respect to Evan.

  • Mark Daniells

    Evan is an authentic local hero here on the North shore of Kauai . He has all the ingredients for leadership and achievement . Keep an eye on him . Aloha , Mark

  • Kainoa Lum

    Evan is one of the nicest surfers I know. Super mellow, great attitude, and rips hard. His free surfing is even more exciting to watch. You da man Ev making Kauai proud!

  • Kate

    Go Evan!!! We love you!

  • Gary

    I thought that Evan surfed the Pipe contest better than anyone else…he really had a command of nearly every wave he rode. Say hi to your Dad Steve, Evan! KauAI!

  • Javi

    A lot more than just a Pipe guy

  • Lauren Angulo

    We’ve been watching, with awe, Evan surf Kauai for the past decade. He’s an amazing surfer, charges big, scary, dangerous waves and rips the beach breaks doing beautiful turns and big airs. He loves to surf and has even given some very lucky tourists surf lessons over the years. I’m thrilled that Evan’s getting some exposure, and has a sponsor, because no one deserves it more!

  • Stanley boy ornellas

    Evan is a LEGEND…. Kauai Boys all the way!! Cheeeeeheeee

  • Robert

    Beautiful work. All ages can enjoy what you did out there. My 4 year old watched the videos of you at least 4 times. What else needs to be said. I too believe it was inspiring. Much love Evan!!!

  • KauaiBoyz

    Evan is making the Kauai Boys proud from the south side to the north. Evan’s been my favorite Kauai surfer since HSF days. We are all rooting for you braddah!

  • Greg Strickland

    Evan’s commanding presence & level of surfing in the heaviest waves at the Pipe Masters in over a decade was impressive. He was calm, precise and consistently in the most critical waves heat after heat. This was no fluke or stroke of good luck. Evan is heavy, & an extremely talented waterman, especially in waves of consequence. Hurley is fortunate to have this kid. Aloha, Stricko.

  • Valerie

    Congratulations Evan! There is no doubt you can become the best surfer in the world! It was so awesome watching you surf, even if it was on the internet. Awesome interview and so glad Brittney is there for you on this incredible journey! May god bless the both of you! We love you!

  • Thor

    Evan rips! Great style too.

  • James

    Yeah Evan !!! Glad to see your talent is being recognized !!! We are super stoked for you !. Aloha.

  • Hans Hedemann

    Way to go Evan. You have always been a kind person and a gifted surfer.

  • John Hook

    Evan KILLED this contest, I really thought he was gonna take the whole thing. And this was legit pipe too.

    hope to see more of him.

  • Benji Rivera

    It’s great to see Evan’s recognition growing globally. Great example of making the right choices in life and what happens when you are a good person and follow your dreams…Great friend and inspiration.. I think he’s not only the next GREAT all around surfer in Hawaii but if given the opportunities, he’ll be the next great surfer/ role model all over the world….

    stoked for you Evan!!!! CHEE!

  • Kathy

    Yay Evan!

  • Ben Kaiwi

    Evan, good to see you, sponsor or no sponsor, you rip.

  • JoAnne Valverde

    Were so proud of you Evan. You’ve worked so hard and dedicate yourself so much to what you love doing, you certainly deserve to be on top! Keep up the great job and stay positive! We love you!

  • http://surfermag P chan

    Evan s display and style in and out of the water was outstanding.Kauai sounds like a great place to call home. please keep the aloha spirit Hawaii.
    best wishes
    Aussie surfer in japan. merry xmas

  • Tracy

    Classy, patient, calm, loves his calling and loves his girl!
    Way to go Evan, you deserve everything coming to you. We all love you!!

  • Chris Mons

    Evan has been ripping for years! He is so much fun to watch! Seeing him kill it on the North Shore every year is amazing!

  • Jeremy Horowitz

    Evan flat out rips. Smooth style. Charges. Humble. Positive character. Everyone wants to watch Evan surf. Pipe was just one example of what he has been doing for awhile.

  • matt

    Evan rips!
    Powerful and stylish and pipe and on his backhand at sunset too.
    So stoked for him!

  • Patrick

    Evan it’s great to see your still killing it and representing the North Shore of Kauai. Keep getting shacked and winning heats.

  • Eddie Silva

    Definitely a lot more than a Pipe guy. Sounds like he’s a really hard worker.

  • Katie

    Well done EvDogg!! Representing Kauai and the state of Hawaii with style and grace. Next year is going to be a good one. Pipe Masters Champion I predict.

  • mrbob

    Evan, you were graceful under pressure and showed you have ice water in your veins when required. Enjoy your ride.

  • Naomi A

    Finally a little bit of overdue recognition for this talented Kauai Boy!!! I dont think anyone ever realizes the amount of skill and talent it takes to surf period, let alone surfing big waves like Pipes!!! For as long as I can remember, the name Evan Valiere has been the equivalent to “Bad Ass Surfer”, and now we know why. I think it is very admirable that even after being discouraged in past years, he is still “in it to win it”… I wish you the best Evan!!!

  • Kalena

    This year pipemasters was awesome! I was fortunate to be able to watch each day and let me tell you Evan was stuffing pipe!! Way to represent Kauai and all the Hawaiians! Kauai is full of so many talented people and Evan is by far, high up there. Super humble guy and really fun to be around. Good job buddy, we got your back!! Keep um coming!

  • Lawrence

    Never heard of Evan and now I won’t forget him. Good luck Evan and humble or not >> fortune favors the bold << and you proved you have giant stones and will light it up for years to come!

  • Kanesa

    Evan is awesome – the world got a treat this year watching him surf pipe in the contest (so stoked on the coverage)!

    … also gotta say … Evan’s paddleboarding (prone) the Molokai channel this year might be helping! 🙂

  • Jackson

    One of the best surfers to come out of the islands. Amazing human being on top of that. Stoked for him!

  • marty ho

    Hey Bob and Pat you better give Mr. Valiere a big fat raise. This guy is the s#$%
    Hes a class act in and out of the water. So many guys with stickers on their boards not fit to wax Evans board. Way to go Evan making Kauai proud !! You deserve it. Cool and smooth style pure aloha, lets his surfing do the talking.

  • http://surfer kailua oldtimer

    Evan is the real deal. He’s been ripping the north shore for years. He charges Pipeline with grace & style… kind of like a modern day G-man. Evan’s world cup performance at Sunset was also impressive. He is undoubtedly one of the best backsiders out there. He just flat out rips in waves of consequence. His heat in the masters with Owen Wright was one for the ages. They just went blow for blow trading big Pipe barrels. Inspired surfing in one of the best heats of the whole year. Makes you wonder how Evan would of fared in this year’s Tahiti contest. Way to go Evan! Congrats on a great triple crown showing. To the powers that be at Hurley: hold on to this guy. He’s a class act and a great representative of aloHa.

  • whamo

    He surfs like Gerry Lopez — clean, pure, raw, and natural.

  • Erik

    If Evan is half as cool & humble as can be read from the article and the comments he’s a top man