If footage of Seth Moniz popped up on your Instagram feed at some point throughout 2018, it was likely a reshared video of him doing some corked-out, spine-bending aerial maneuver. Moniz has had an impressive year–he was one of the first rounds of progressive surfers to do something radical at the Waco wave pool (see: ridiculously flawless backflip) and at the U.S. Open, he did an air that only the youngest and healthiest of ACLs could have handled.
But Moniz has been entertaining people offline as well-steadily impressing those men with the scorecards while traveling the world on the ‘QS. After earning a second-place finish at the Ichinomiya Chiba Open, and 3rd at the Ballito Pro and a 5th at the U.S. Open, Moniz has positioned himself at No. 2 on the ‘QS ranking, and after a semifinal finish at Haleiwa last week, has officially claimed a spot on the 2019 ‘CT.
Making the Tour has always been a goal of Moniz’, so we caught up with the young Hawaiian shortly after the event ended to talk about realizing his childhood dream and why he plans on bringing his progressive flair to the ‘CT.
First of all, congrats on making the tour!
I'm kind of speechless. I don't really know how to take it in because it's been such a long journey to start doing well on the ‘QS. I didn't even crack the top 50 [before this year]. Just to have such an outstanding year has been amazing. I'm really excited to move forward and get on the tour and surf world-class waves in contests.
Did you know exactly what you had to do going into Haleiwa?
The points I had before Haleiwa were enough to qualify last year, so it was looking like I should qualify, but it’s never a guarantee. But when I made my Round 4 heat, I was like okay, I'll be solid, points wise. After that round 4 heat I was relieved. The WSL confirmed it after I lost the semis and I came in. I heard it as I was walking up the beach.
That moment must have been especially sweet knowing that it happened on your home coast, in front of all your friends and family.
I had been looking forward to that moment for a while. I got to be there for Griffin Colapinto last year when he qualified and he's one of my best friends for the last 10 years. A lot of my family who don't really get to see me surf contests were down there supporting me and that meant a lot. Even my grandma came down—I don't think she's ever watched me in a contest like that on the world stage so it was a cool moment and something I’ll remember forever.
Obviously your dad was a Hawaiian legend, Kelia [Seth’s sister] is a longboard champ, your bother Josh has won the Volcom Pipe Pro—it seems like competitive surfing is in your blood. What do you think is the most important thing your family has taught you that has gotten you to where you are today?
I think just being the youngest, I was trying to keep up with them and tagging along when I was young. When my brothers were surfing waves that were big to me, I was like, “Well I'm going to surf them because my brothers are surfing them.” Little stuff like that has helped me along the way and pushed me to always be one step ahead.
Did you ever think you'd be the first one from your family to make the 'CT?
Honestly, no I didn't. I think I started the ‘QS 2 or 3 years ago, but last year was the first year I went full time on it. Watching my brother Josh, I figured he’d be on it before me. But now that I've qualified, I can't wait for my brother to qualify and for us to travel together. That'll be pretty cool. I think the last brother combo was the Hobgoods.
The ‘QS is obviously a dog-eat-dog world with no guarantees and tends to teach young groms a lot of life lessons—what do you think is one of the most important things you've learned from the 'QS that'll come in handy on the 'CT?
When I was younger, I'd always think ‘Oh I'm going to lose, I'm going to lose’ when I’d be coming from behind in a heat. But I think this year I figured out how to think more positively. I think that's the one main thing I'll take away from this year—it's the never-giving-up attitude and being really confident in my surfing. I feel like I've always had the surfing to do it and I've finally been performing how I want to.
I think it’s smart if you can figure out, at a young age, how to get out of your way and just perform. It seems like sometimes guys get too in their heads, which gets in the way of their surfing. If you can get that down even before you surf your first heat on tour that's huge.
For sure. That's one of the big reasons why some people might not do well in their careers, and I'm slowly figuring that out. But I've still got a lot to work on with my surfing.
You were saying that your first few years on the ‘QS were a struggle–having those few extra years of ‘QS training under your belt compared to when you were 18 gives you a little bit of an advantage??
For sure. I think I did an interview when I was younger about when I wanted to qualify and I never wanted to qualify when I was 17, 18 or 19 because I knew I wouldn’t really be ready at that age. I've got a smaller stature than 90 percent of the guys on tour, so I knew I'd have to get stronger. Now that I’m more mature in my surfing, I think I'm ready.
Every so often the tour’s elders start leaving and a new young crop of progressive surfers start making a name for themselves. How do you feel being apart of this new generation of rippers?
I think it's pretty cool that Griffin, myself and my brother Josh are coming onto the big stage slowly. The tour is kind of changing into the next generation of surfing and it's kind of cool to see Joel[Parkinson] congratulating us. I think I saw a post where he was saying how the next generation of talent is so amazing and how he's excited to see that. I hope we can all get in there and stay in there. I would definitely be bummed if I made the tour and fell off the first year. So I hope we can make our mark on tour and plant our seeds.
You kind of broke Instagram twice this year–one time when you did that lofty backflip at the Waco wave pool and the other at the US Open when you did an air I don’t even know how to define. A lot of the time the ‘CT cops a lot of flack for stifling, rather than fueling, progressive surfing. Are you excited to bring some more progression to the tour next year?
I want to make it exciting for sure. I don't want to be a boring surfer. I want to be someone who, when I paddle out for a heat, people are excited to watch. I think we're pretty much in the entertainment business so I'm definitely not going to go out there and dodge sections.
Shane Dorian posted a photo of you as a grom, with a written goal above it that said: “My long-term goal is to make the 'CT.” Not every kid becomes what they wanted to be when they were a little grom–is it crazy to look at that now and realize that you did exactly what you wanted to do?
Yea, I was looking at that photo for like an hour the other day. It's surreal to think that I was that kid once, dreaming about being on tour and that it actually happened. It's funny, I remember writing that down with my dad. I still have that hung up on my wall. I think was 12 or 13. To see it finally happen is great—because over the past couple of years there have been doubtful moments when I didn't think I could do it because I was losing so much. I'd travel all year and only make a few heats. I'd think, 'How am I going to qualify and get into the top 10 if I can't even crack the top 100?" So it feels good to see my name at the #2 spot right now. I'm really happy.