Qualifying for those Top 34 spots in the world on the WCT ain’t no easy task. In fact the QS can brutal. If you’re not seeded (or, even if you are) you’re gone from home for the better part of the year, often groveling in odd corners of the world from Galicia to Japan to the shores of Tel Aviv collecting points for the Big Show. And yet…Some are up for the task. And a good many of those “some” are oddly from San Clemente, California. From Dino Andino to Shane Beschen to the Gudauskas Bros to Kolohe to Griffin to now: Cole Houshmand. Or, at least he’s giving it a fair shake. But at just 18 years old, the smiley, polished, big kid from Trestles is making headway and has just as good a chance as any to make his way up the rankings. Currently 24th in the world after a 3rd in Israel, we caught up with Cole in Peru for some insight on what his year looks like.
Haydenshapes: Cole! I know you’re only 18 and you had a great pro-junior career so far, but is this your first full year trying to qualify?
Yes it is. This is officially my first full year on the “Q.”
Do you find yourself riding different boards on the QS as you would at home…or no?
I would say that I pretty much ride my normal everyday boards whether I’m in a contest or not, mostly because I’m giving feedback to Haydenshapes and that’s what I feel most comfortable on. So, once the waves get shoulder-high to a little overhead, I’ll usually ride the Darkside or the Ando. Both, in PE construction, and 6’1”s, just above 28L. Those are my go-to boards for the comps. Both of those boards just have amazing outlines and shapes and feel so fast. They’re also both really responsive, lively and go on rail really well. They pretty much do whatever I want them to do which is why I love them for comps.
Then anything smaller than shoulder high in beach break stuff, I’ll ride the Untitled. Every single Untitled I’ve ever gotten has been just magic. So fast and reliable, they hold on turns and then go well in the air, they’re just perfect that way. Even if I have to grovel in comps like Virginia Beach, I still go with the Untitled. I’ll ride them at 5’11” in FutureFlex at 30.7 L.
Growing up in San Clemente, who do you find yourself surfing with usually?
I’ve always looked up to Kolohe Andino and Griffin Colapinto, they’ve always been great friends, surf buds and mentors. These days, I pretty much surf every day with Crosby Colapinto, Kade Matson, Jet Shilling those kids. We push each other pretty hard [laughs].
I can imagine. Why is the talent pool so freaking good in San Clemente? It seems like every other year someone is qualifying for the World Tour from there…
I think it has a lot to do with the camaraderie and unity between all of us. We all hang out and surf everyday all the time and guys like Kolohe and Griffin take us under their wing and surf with us, push us, let us hang out with them, so we’re constantly pushing each other to live up to them maybe. And then of course there’s Lowers, and at that wave you can really just work on your technique and style and it allows you to try new maneuvers everyday. It’s like a skatepark.
Amazing. What’s this year on the QS look like for you?
This year there’s definitely going to be a lot of traveling. [laughs] I think last year I was gone for 8 months of the year and this year should be about the same.
Geez. How many events you think you’ll actually do this year?
I’d say about 15 or 16 QS events.
Wow. Which out of those are you most excited about?
I really love the comps where there’s a wave of consequence or a bigger wave because I think I do my best surfing in bigger waves. So, I think I’ll do a few comps in Indo, then the Triple Crown at the end of the year; my goal is to qualify for that. But the local events at home I look forward to for sure, even Huntington.
And what boards do you use in the bigger waves like in Indo or Sunset Beach?
Yeah, we’ve been working on step ups for the past few years and I pretty much ride the Golden Gun with a couple modifications that Hayden’s done for me to be able to turn better in the pocket. Boards that can work at Haleiwa or Sunset.
Do you think there’s such a thing as the perfect comp board?
I actually think a board that’s a little shorter and stubbier is the perfect comp board because you want the board to be fast and keep up and make sections for yourself, often because the surf in QS events isn’t the best. I don’t know if there’s a “perfect comp board,” but basically, a board that’s lively and fast and feels good beneath your feet, and also holds on turns in the pocket—that’s what you want.