interview / spencer pirdy

The city of Long Beach is not exactly renowned for pumping surf, or any surf at all actually. And it’s not exactly the place many young pro surfers are reared in. However, the LBC’s Nolan Rapoza is an exception to this. Nolan is constantly commuting north to Ventura/LA and, more frequently, south to Huntington and Newport to sharpen his QS attack. Nolan had a highly successful amateur career, and has maintained a healthy profile ever since. He knows what it’s like to be without a sponsor and searching for support. Right now he’s got that support as well as the support of a solid crew of friends that he runs with. Nolan is young, talented and motivated as hell. Look out for this lightning fast goofy-foot to be ripping at a beach near you soon, and hope like hell that you don’t draw him in a heat.

Give us a quick rundown of where you were born and raised?
I was born at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach and then lived in Seal Beach for a couple of years of my life. I then had to move because I had really bad asthma. We moved to Long Beach because of that and I’ve lived there ever since.

How is it being a pro surfer from Long Beach?
I mostly go surf down south because most of my friends live down south and I’ve always just liked going surfing down south. I usually like to go to Ventura a lot if the waves are good, and LA a bit, but I do usually surf down south in Huntington and Newport.

Who is the crew that you’re mostly cruising with?
I mostly hang with Tyler Gunter, Dylan Hord and Wil Reid. Usually in the morning I’ll head to Tyler’s house and we’ve got a little routine where we’ll surf and then maybe go for a little workout and grab some food…

I noticed you guys have been into getting some ginger shots to start off your day?
Yeah, this past month we’ve been trying to be pretty healthy and get ready for the competitive year to start. We’re just trying to train and prepare and get better.

Give us a little history of your young career.
My first major sponsor was Quiksilver, and that was during NSSA Westerns. After that I moved over to Fox for about three years. That was insane. Frankie D’Andrea and Christian Saenz were really cool to me. Big wins for me were the Volcom TCT World Champs and then the Rip Curl Grom Search Internationals at Ala Moana Bowls. That one was one of my favorite events. Matt Meyers (Rip Curl TM) was so cool and it was his camp that we all stayed in. I was trying to do my own thing and then Meyers had us all get together and bond. My most recent one was winning the North American region juniors overall ranking.

Right now you’re 20 years old, what are your goals for the year?
My goal this year is to make it into the 10,000’s and build up my points on the Qualifying Series. My goal is also just to get mentally stronger. There are a lot of good guys on the QS and I just want to have my head right.

How was the end of this past year? You went up to Mavericks and got some big waves?
Yeah, I went up there with a few of my friends. The start of surfing there was pretty intense. We went up there and it wasn’t really breaking. We were on the cliff watching and waiting for it to turn on. Jaimie Mitchell went out on the ski, Tyler Gunter and John Mel went out on his ski and then Sage Burke and I paddled out from the beach. Out in the lineup it wasn’t that big yet. It was 15-foot, maybe 20-foot and as the session went on it got bigger and bigger. John and them were looking to get a quick start, but I wanted to wait for a bit and not sit on the inside and get caught. I got a medium sized one and it ended up being one of the best sessions of my life. We all had dinner together afterwards, and stayed up at our friend Brogie’s house in Pacifica.

What’s your favorite aspect of surfing right now?
Right now what’s getting me the most psyched is thinking about going on a surf trip. I’m doing what I’m supposed to right now, and getting better in the small stuff and grinding for the QS. But I’m waiting for my time to do my thing in bigger surf, because that’s what I want to do. I want to surf bigger and heavier waves and get barreled. I know my time will come.

 What wave are you visualizing?
I’d love to go to Cloudbreak. Cloudbreak is like my favorite wave. Just watching videos from there makes me want to go back. I went there when I was 13 and I realized that I never wanted to be scared again in waves like that.

Who are your major sponsors right now?
Body Glove is my main sponsor and then Rockstar as well.

Is it a tough time for young pro surfers like yourself to get the backing they feel they deserve?
Yeah, absolutely. After I was finished with Fox I didn’t have a sponsor for a long time, and then Body Glove came into the picture. There are so many really good guys that get great publicity but then get dropped out of nowhere. Tyler Gunter lost his sponsor, and it’s definitely feeling like times are rough. I’m really happy to have Body Glove on my side.

Does this motivate you that much more?
Yeah, definitely. I’m just trying to better myself that much more and not have people forget about me.

What’s the end goal for you?
My main goal would be to qualify for the Championship Tour. I feel like once you qualify it would feel like it got that much easier. You get to travel and surf all of these great waves. The QS is an actual grind, so I feel like I’d maybe have a lot more time off to make video parts.

Any final shout outs?
I’ll give a shout out to my manager John Oda!

Thanks for the time, Nolan! Go surf!
Alright, Thank you!