Kai Hing interview & photos • tom carey
Hometown: Sunshine Coast, Australia
Sponsors: Billabong, Monster, Oakley, Creatures of Leisure, JS Surfboards and Globe
Kai tell us a little about yourself, where did you go grow up and who got you into surfing?
I grew up on the Sunshine Coast in a house less than 100-meter walk from the funnest beach break around my town. My brother and father both surfed so when they went surfing all I wanted to do was that with them. There’s also not much to do besides surf around my hometown, so it was kind of that or play rugby, and I don’t like people tackling me.
In Australia does every kid that grows up along the coast start surfing at a young age? Kind of like soccer or baseball in the states, does every grom gives it a go early on?
When your a grom all you want to do is what your mates are doing, the beach is at max five minutes from everyone’s house and on a hot day what’s better than going for a wave. Plus, if your not surfing all the old boys will give you shit and tell you to get out there.
Do you still enjoy surfing? Or is it becoming more of a job now?
Besides family, surfing is one of the only things I truly love. I can go out in the ocean, leave all my drama on the land, have no mobile phone, have peace of mind and a fuck load of fun. But yeah, it is my job and sometimes I have to do things that bum me out but I kinda take a step back and think, “If I get to do what I love for my job, it’s all good.” A lot of my buddy’s are slaving away all day, so I’m very grateful.
Is it pretty easy to get burned out at your age or do you still have that fire you had as a grom?
Surfing is everything to me, put all the sponsors and comps aside, surfing is something I will do till I die or hurt myself bad enough I can’t do it any more.
What’s the best part of surfing to you: the adventures, the people or the pure joy of wave riding?
Being in the ocean away from all the trouble on the land – just you and the ocean, you get peace of mind and that’s hard to come by with all the bullshit happening in the world. Plus, watching your buddy standing in a barrel and getting blown out and seeing the stoke on his face gives me so much happiness.
Would you rather get a nice running barrel at Snapper, do a big carve at Lennox or a massive punt at D-Bah? What’s the best feeling of the three?
Getting a barrel at Snappy in the middle of the night under a full moon. Nothing will ever compare to that.
What’s a typical day for Kai Hing? And who gave you a Hawaiian name like that?
Every day is different, hopefully I get to surf each day but the Sunshine Coast can go flat for a few weeks at a time. I watch my buddy’s band, The Cloacas, jam or go on some fun surf trips. My name is actually Chinese; my dad’s great grandfather is half Chinese so I guess that’s where it comes from.
Who are some of your influences? Who do you look up to in your hood?
Wade Goodall, not only is he my favorite surfer but my favorite human, the most humble guy and he has so much respect. And the guy rips so hard.
Who’s your favorite female surfer? Do you even have one?
Clarissa Moore has to be one of the nicest lady’s I’ve ever met. But I’m not really one to watch the surfing.
Who has the best airbrush or board drawings of all time?
Lee Wilson, I love his artwork and he keeps it simple, black poscas and his own style.
Archy or Christian Fletcher? And why?
I’ve never met Archy so I’m going to say Christian. I just did a road trip with him, the motherfucker is crazy but he has his mates back to the death. Plus, he doesn’t give a fuck and so manly people in the surf industry are so courteous of being perfect instead of just being themself.
What’s Really Going On or Momentum?
I haven’t seen What’s Really Going On so I guess I don’t know what’s really going on.
Metal Neck or Cluster?
Both guys from Metal Neck and Cluster are really cool guys and my friends, ones not better then the other their just different in there own ways. I love them both.
Beach Grit or Stab? Please elaborate.
Stab has helped me out by posting some of my edits and put me in their mag so respect to them, plus the guys that work there are really cool guys.
Dorian or Slater?
Who’s your favorite underground surfer?
Jake Vincent, my buddy from home. He’s doing air combos no one else is doing and no one is seeing. Hopefully people can start appreciating it soon because he’s got real talent and he’s a rad human. Plays in a sick band too.
When was the worst era for surfing? Or are we in it?
I think it’s pretty lame these days how all the pros want picture perfect model girlfriends, are driving around in BMWs and owning six houses but there are also some of the rarest characters who are super rad and creating a new era. But everything is what you make of it so any era can be rad or shit, it’s just up to you.
Would you be psyched to see Kelly Slater’s wave in the Olympics?
I don’t really want to see the Olympics happen at all.
You recently won the Australian Pro Junior circuit correct?
Yeah, it was cool and we got to compete in fun waves in Tahiti and New Zealand and a couple fun waves in Aus too. But yeah, stoked to win.
What’s that like for a grom in Australia? How important is that?
I think it was a lot bigger back in the day. In saying that, there was some really good surfing in it, just way less events. It was most beneficial to be able to surf heats in Tahiti in slabbing right points, not just waves like Manly Beach.
Has that opened up some doors for you?
Um… not so much, it was just a goal I had set for myself so I was just stoked to set a goal and achieve it.
Are you a very competitive surfer or a more of a free spirit? Are you trying to balance your free surfing and comp surfing? What’s your plan for the future, in other words?
I’ve been finding lately I haven’t been doing my best surfing in heats and I’ll spend a lot of money to go surf not so good waves and not show people what my surfing is. So I want to put some time into making edits that hopefully people will be stoked to watch and show them what I can do and who I am.
It seems like in this digital age it’s hard for anyone to really standout and get noticed. Or, if you do something cool or significant it’s there one day and gone tomorrow. How do you stick out from the rest?
I think consistently posting content is key and also just being a good person. People want to do trips with people that they can get along with. I want to do as many trips as I can so I’m just trying to make connections with people I look up to and hopefully get some stuff done with them.
Do you like your generation or do you wish you were born in a different era?
I love to guys I’m hanging around and shooting and surfing with so I’m content with how things are now.
Tell us about your best session of your life!
I had Lance’s Rights (HT’S) with one buddy out. It was 6-8 feet, sunny, blue water, not a breath of wind and perfect barrels. I’ll remember that day for the rest of my life.
What type of music do you dig?
Ozzy Osbourne, Sonic Youth and Brian Jonestown Massacre. Fuck, Electric Wizard is sick too. I dunno, as long as it ain’t deep house techno shit I’ll listen to it.
If you could describe your surfing in a word or two, what would it be? Mine would be “yard sale.”
I don’t really know, you can call it that if you like.
Does music influence your surfing?
Really just depends on what mood I’m in but I like listening to stoned doom stuff like Acid King or Electric Wizard because it pumps you up but kinda keeps your blood levels cool.
How did it feel to get that cover of Australia’s Surfing Life [ASL] last month?
I’m super stoked and so grateful, it’s not easy to get covers these days. But I got some other shots that trip that I really like and would have been stoked to see on the cover instead, but I’m very grateful to Surfing Life for putting me on their cover.
Do you dig seeing your stuff in print still?
Of course, things on the internet get lost in a week. I can keep that mag and show my kids one day. Plus, it’s sick to flicks through a mag while having a coffee or whatever your drink of choice is and seeing my buddy’s in a tube or laying a serious turn. Plus, there’s some amazing photos getting around and it’s cool to be able to keep their photo in a collection.
How sugarcoated is surfing nowadays? It’s like you know what someone is gonna say before the say it. People seem scared to speak their mind or the masses will crucify them on social media. How do you feel about that?
That’s something that Christian opened my eyes to on our road trip. People are all scared to say the wrong thing, scared to have too many beers in front of someone because the sponsor might see… but fuck, just be yourself. Life’s short, don’t be fake and that’s when people will start to back you for who you truly are. And sugarcoating shots, like flyaway airs on the cover, I’m not hearing that.
Who speaks their mind the best and backs it up?
To be honest, probably someone like Rasta. He says how fucked up people are treating our planet and actually goes out and tries to stop Japanese boats from killing whales and dolphins. He’s not doing that shit to sound good and get publicity out of it, he’s actually telling everyone how fucked it is and he’s doing something about it.
What are your goals for 2017 and beyond?
I want to produce content that people watch and get pumped to go surf after seeing it. I just want people to get to know who the real me is and hopefully they’ll back it and if not I’ll just keep trying to put out the best content I can.
If you couldn’t surf what would your day job be?
I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it but until then I’ll keep doing what I love and hopefully everyone else can too.