Quivers: Koa Smith

Koa Smith’s Hawaii Quiver

Height: 5’8”

Weigh: 130 lbs.

Standard shortboard dimensions: 5’9” x 18” x 2 1/16”


Photo: Dorsey

From left:

6’1” x 17 7/8” x 2” by DS

5’10” x 18” x 2” by Xanadu

6’8” x 18” x 2 1/4” by Xanadu

5’9” x 18” x 2 1/16”by Xanadu

6’5” x 18 1/8” x 2 1/16” by Xanadu

5’10” x 18” x 2 1/16” by Minami

(third board from Koa)

I rode this board a lot and loved it, it was a magic one. But it got stolen the day after this while we were staying at the Rip Curl house. They took a bunch of boards, and a bunch of the houses around us got ripped off too, but it just happened to be one of my favorite boards.

(closest to him)

I liked this board for barreling waves because it was unbreakable. I got the three lickings of my life while riding this board at a wave at home. I got drilled by a bunch of waves and somehow it didn’t snap.

(Two from Koa)

I rode this board when I paddled at Teahupoo. It’s a 6’5”. It worked good—you don’t want too long of a board out there so you can fit into the curve of the wave.


What size range of boards did you bring to the North Shore this year?

It depends on what time of year I go, but usually I’ll bring a 5’4” fish on up to a board for Sunset, which would be a 6’10.”

It seems like the North Shore is a great place to test boards, there are so many different kinds of waves.

It is, but you break them a lot, too. It’s fun because you can get barreled at one spot, go to another and do a bunch of turns—there’s a bit of everything.

You’ve been riding Xanadu’s X-21 model, why that one in particular?

It’s really fast, even on small waves it gives you momentum to do a big bottom turn and speed to hit the lip, and right when you finish you can do it again without having to recover. It really flows well.

How into your board designs are you?

I’m not that into it, but my brother Alex is super into it. Going through all this growing the last few years, it was hard for me to figure out what I should be riding. Now I’m starting to get more into it though and playing around with boards. It helps that Alex is so into it. He rides all sorts of boards, he’s addicted to ordering boards. He’ll have ten coming at a time, and right when he gets those he’ll order ten more.

What percentage of your quiver is normal shortboards?

At home, I don’t really even use step-ups, so it’s mostly shortboards and fish. But over on Oahu I’ll bring a lot of boards that aren’t quite step-ups, but are just an inch or two bigger so you can get into waves better but you can still turn.

Trial By Fire At Teahupoo

Koa breaks down going to Chopes for last March’s mega swell, which happened to be the sixteen year old’s first time out there.

There were 25-footers coming through, it was gnarly. It seemed like on every wave someone could’ve died.

Did you get to paddle into a few before the tow sessions?

When we got there, it was still paddleable, but it was thumping. I watched from the channel, and within ten minutes I saw at least four broken boards.

So I decided to get warmed up on my tow board, ’cause I’d never used it. My straps were all sketchy, and the screws weren’t fitting, so when I got towed in to the first one the straps broke right when I made it into the channel. Then Teiva Joyeux, Malik’s brother, threw on some of his straps, and I was being pulled back out and that strap broke. It was like bad luck or something.

So I went in and worked the straps out on land, but they wouldn’t move very far apart. Plus, it was really light, the board just wasn’t made for Chopes. I got a few waves, but it was sketchy. And then all of a sudden it started getting big, and Jason [Kenworthy, Nike 6.0 team manager] came out and got me to make sure I didn’t go on a set. There were 25-footers coming through, it was gnarly. It seemed like on every wave someone could’ve died.

How would you rate that as far as being heavy?

The heaviest possible. Twelve on a scale of ten. People were pulling into fifteen-foot closeouts and coming up laughing, it was crazy.

It doesn’t seem like it would be too crowded, but I hear you have to wait a while to get one.

Yeah, it wasn’t super consistent. You’d end up waiting about an hour to get one. You can’t just go on any wave. You’re trying to get the ones that break further out, and then I didn’t want a set, so… The next day was mellower, and that’s when I got a better one.

How is surfing Teahupoo different than a regular hollow wave?

If you’re towing, you let go really early, before the pack. On my good one, I thought it was going to be a smaller one, like a six-footer. And then the end bowl starts to show, but you’re already locked in, so you’re going no matter what. From there the thing just comes out of the channel and grows another five feet and bends towards to beach. So you’re basically going straight, like straight in. It felt like it was sucking me back at one point. I don’t know, it’s the best feeling you could possibly have.

Then when you’re paddling you’ve just got to commit and tell yourself you’re going even before you see the wave. Then you hope you make the drop and that the next one isn’t a fifteen-footer.