A Conversation With Flynn Novak
Novak Discusses Win at Sponsor Me Ala Moana Bowls and the State of Hawaiian Pro Surfing
On the North Shore, it’s hard to miss Flynn Novak. Towering at 6 feet with a head capped by wispy blonde hair, Flynn has become a mainstay in the latest generation of North Shore surfers. Pulling in to scrotum-shriveling Pipe bombs or dismantling the peak at Rocky’s, Flynn has proven himself in a wide spectrum of surf time and again. Recently, at the Sponsor Me Ala Moana Bowls WQS 1 star, Flynn claimed the event for the second year running. Following his prance on the podium, we sat down with the alabaster-toned victor to talk about the trials, tribulations, and accomplishments facing the 26-year-old.
So how does a guy that’s made a reputation for himself charging Pipe win an event in small Town surf…twice?
Well, I’m not exactly a one-trick pony. A reputation can make you or break you. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of having a reputation for surfing Pipeline, but I wish the industry and surfing public would quit labeling me as being a “Pipe Specialist” and nothing more. I know how the game works, and it sucks that I can’t get anything else but barrel shots run in any major surfing magazines. Sorry to vent, but it seems extremely apparent lately that acknowledgment for having an all-around act isn’t there for me.
As far as my contest strategy goes, I was aware of where I was sitting on the reef at Bowls. It’s a perfect reef and you can’t go too deep, so when guys would paddle deep, I would let them and just sit where I wanted to. You can play certain priority games at beach breaks, but if you are trying to play The Deep Guy role, you’ll only be catching closeouts. I had marker points straight in—on Magic Island to the west, and on the buildings by Diamond Head to the east—that I knew not to go past. Aside from the positioning, I knew that all I needed to do was perform, and just remembered that “what ever was going to happen, was going to happen.” A little luck and good karma always helps too.
Did you do anything differently this year to prepare for the event?
Every single weeknight for the past month, I’ve been training at Ezra Sitt’s Dojo, learning a little Jiu Jitsu from our master teacher Marcelo. I wasn’t doing that last year. Other than that, I’ve been on the same program of eating healthy, stretching, and staying active in the ocean.
Can you talk about surfing at Bowls on a typical day?
Surfing Bowls on a typical day, being a tall haole guy, is a nightmare. I’d call it sitting at Bowls more than surfing at Bowls. The crowd is very aggressive and thick to say the least. Not haole-friendly, even if you’re born and raised like me.
I once read that you rarely surf Bowls. After winning here twice can we expect to see you out in the lineup more often?
No. Ala Moana Bowls is a localized spot and I understand the way that works. The only way I can catch a wave out there is if Randall Paulson, Kainoa McGee, or Mike Akima gives me one. Other than that, I’m getting burned left and right by the guys who never surf anywhere else, and that’s fine. They deserve it; that’s their wave, that’s a perk for putting in time at your local break: you have priority over anyone below you on the pecking order. I’ll share waves with Randall, Kainoa, and Mike anywhere in the world, including Rocky’s and Pipe—mainly because they are senior to me, but also because of how giving and friendly they are at their home break. I know that they don’t have to give me waves at Bowls but they do, and I’m very thankful for that. It’s funny because this year was the best summer for town in years, and I only surfed Ala Moana twice, and one of those sessions was at 5:30 am.
Let’s talk about the event. Do you think the level of surfing coupled with the amount of talent in the water warrants the comp to be more than a 1 star?
Of course! Hawaii has the deepest talent pool in the surfing world. Usually 1- to 3- star events anywhere else in the world are filled with kids, kooks, and graduating amateurs just trying to get some sort of WQS points. Our 1 star at Ala Moana Bowls had World Champions on every professional and amateur level, National Champions, ex and current WCT surfers, local heroes, and the rest of Hawaii’s best just straight up ripping, worrying more about out-doing each other than some measly 250 WQS points. Talk about a show to watch. Shit, last year in the quarterfinals of this comp, 16 out of 16 quarterfinalists scored 9s in their heats, and half of those guys lost. Imagine watching that.
Do you think there should be more WQS events in Hawaii?
Wouldn’t you like to watch more QS event in Hawaii? We need more WQS events in Hawaii. We need a fricken’ Hawaii Tour! Why not with live webcasts these days? You don’t need a huge U.S. Open crowd on the beach to make money and get exposure for an event anymore. Hawaii has some of the best surfers and world-class waves, sunshine and surf trunks—it’s a no-brainer.