Separated in age by just over a year. Ruthless. Cutthroat. Savage. Out for blood. Known to trade blows. Charge big waves.
We’re not describing Josh and Seth Moniz.
Unlike Andy and Bruce, who were all of those things, Josh and Seth only share similarities with the Irons brothers in three ways: their closeness in age, their origin, and their fearlessness in f—ked up waves. (If you paid any attention to the North Shore the last six months, you saw them both hugely step up out at serious Pipe).
But the dog-eat-dog, beat-each-other-at-all-costs-and-maybe-even-get-in-a-physical-fight-later mentality? Josh and Seth don’t have that. During a surf trip in Western Australia, after the first two big 'QS events of the year in Manly and Newcastle, we sat the brothers down together to ask them a few things. For the most part, they were happy to talk, and had no problem answering our questions. But when the subject of besting each other came up — be it in a heat, freesurf, or out at big Pipe — they got awkward and uncomfortable. Because according to Seth: “We’re competitive and definitely push each other, but we’re nothing like the Irons brothers.”
Well, apart from the way they surf.
Intro by ZANDER MORTON
Interview by BEAU FLEMISTER
Photographs by KIM FEAST
You guys just finished up events over at Manly and Newcastle. Do you usually travel together to the contests? Do you guys get along pretty well, or are you at each other's throats after a few days on the road?
- SETH: This year we’ll be together at every event. For sure, we get on each other's nerves, but it’s more because we’re sleeping in the same room and doing pretty much everything together. But it’s nothing too bad.
- JOSH: We get in little 10-minute fights and then we get over it.
- SETH: Josh sometimes thinks he’s the boss because he’s a year older than me, but he’s not [Laughs].
- JOSH: I am the boss.
What do you think the necessary balance is between your raw talent and composing a strategy in competition?
- JOSH: There are so many kids nowadays that are almost like robots. You know they’re gonna get a huge heat total, but they’re not necessarily entertaining. But I look at someone like Mikey Wright: he’s so raw, and so fun to watch, because you never know what he’s gonna do. He might not make as many heats, but if you see him stand up on a wave, you’re not gonna look away. Whether he gets a 4-point heat total, or 16, 17 points — he’ll go for it. That said, if you wanna be on Tour and make heats, sometimes you do have to grind it out, even though it’s not the funnest thing.
- SETH: You can be the best surfer in the world, and still be really bad in competition. Like Dane Reynolds. He’s the best surfer ever. And he still did OK in contests, but he didn’t enjoy them. To me, you really have to love it and want it, and enjoy winning and losing. Otherwise, there’s no point in competing. Right now I’m just trying to enjoy the process.
The 'QS seems like a roller coaster. Do you love it, hate it, or something in the middle?
- SETH: Last year I was just trying to figure it out, coming from the Juniors. It’s a whole bunch of new faces and older guys who are more experienced, and last year, I thought it was pretty stressful. But this year, I’ve already made a few heats, and now I have the bug again. Now I’m stoked on it. I want to do as many events as I can. I’m going to Martinique after this, even though it’s only a 3000, just because I’m fired up.
- JOSH: When I first jumped on it [the 'QS] I did it because I had to, after they changed the age for the Juniors [from Under 20 to Under 18]. Qualifying was a goal of mine, but always in the future. This year, I feel like I’m ready to actually compete at that level, so I’m enjoying the environment of the 'QS a lot more. I’m a lot hungrier now.
Do you guys feel like you could qualify this year?
- SETH: For sure. I’ve already had a few heats with 'CT guys this year, one against Julian [Wilson], and I beat him. As long as I don’t feel left behind, and as long as I know I can get two 8s in every heat, I feel like I can make it.
- JOSH: I hope so. This is the first year I’ve felt 100% going into the year, and I finally have a quiver of good boards. On the 'QS, you’re surfing below-average waves all year. And that’s OK. We all know it and we’re all dealing with the same thing. But I’m confident I can do it. Everything just has to come together, because there’s definitely a lot of luck involved, too.
You both still do freesurf trips, like this one. After a contest, how does it feel to leave the jerseys behind to just chase waves in a place like West Oz? Is it hard to switch back and forth between mindsets?
- JOSH: I love switching out of contest mode, and that’s why I got so excited when I found out we were coming here to West Oz. Because it’s a time to play and just have fun, and at the end of the day, that’s what I love the most about surfing. But, at the same time, this is the first trip where I’ve felt pressure to land something. It’s literally the first trip Seth and I have done one-on-one, and not for a contest. A lot of people say the freesurf guys don’t have a lot of pressure to perform, but that’s not the case. Those guys are expected to raise the bar when they put out an edit. So I give them a lot of credit.
- SETH: In Manly and Newcastle, it was all about getting down to the beach early, doing our stretches, trying boards, and not doing crazy moves. West Oz is totally different. We’re getting thrown into the biggest air sections and going for the biggest moves and we’re falling off a lot. But it’s just a change in mentality. It’s been all about nailing a couple of clips every day, and trying to get 10 sick total ones, instead of doing three turns on a wave, two times per heat.
On a trip like this one, how does your brother push you in the water? Do you think he’s a big part of the reason you’re surfing at the level you’re at now?
- JOSH: Yeah, watching each other go for big airs and hit big sections is definitely a motivator. But we don’t really yell at each other much. Seth pushes me more than anyone in the water. We’re not really vocal about it, but it just naturally happens. I’ve always felt like he was a bit ahead of me, ever since we were younger.
- SETH: We’ve gotten a few crazy ramps over here that we never get in Hawaii. So I definitely yelled at Josh a couple times, like, “C’mon brah, land something!" [Laughs] But I was pushing myself, too. At one point, I told myself: either my board is gonna break, my legs are gonna break, or I’m gonna land my next air. We’re competitive and definitely push each other, but we’re nothing like the Irons brothers. Those two were next-level hard on each other.
What do you think your brother does better than you on a surfboard? What about his weakness?
- JOSH: Seth’s weakness? That’s a hard one.
- SETH: You can say it.
- [Laughter all around]
- JOSH: I think he needs to catch bigger waves [Laughs]. Nah, that’s definitely not true. Everyone saw him going hard this winter. He was in such a different mindset.
- SETH: I don’t know. I feel like I have more confidence in a heat at Pipe — even though he’s crazy in the barrel….
- JOSH: Are you calling me a pussy?
- [More Laughter]
- SETH: No! That’s just a really tough question. Josh does better airs than me, and sticks way more of them. He’s really consistent. But Josh and I have this funny thing where we’ll say we’re better than each other at every other thing in the world: diving, fishing, golfing, whatever. But in surfing, we have this humble bond, because it’s a serious thing to us. If I’m winning in contests and Josh is losing, I feel bad, and I’m always like, “C’mon Josh, you got this.” And I know he feels the same way.
Where do you want your surfing to take you? Do you want to be on the 'CT? Put out crazy video parts? What gets you the most excited?
- SETH: I’ve always looked up to Taj Burrow and Shane Dorian. Look at Shane. He was on Tour for eight years or so, and now he’s surfing huge waves. Same with Taj. He went on Tour for a long time, and he was also putting out movies and edits. I just want to keep loving surfing. I don’t think I have to choose the Tour over video parts or anything else.
- JOSH: If I could plan the perfect career, it would be how Taj did it. He was always surfing at the highest level. Always winning events. And he left Tour on top. To me, he’s what it’s all about, because he was always having fun with it.
We haven’t seen brothers on Tour since the Hobgoods. How would it feel to change that?
- JOSH: That would be pretty special. We both want it so bad. And I believe we can both make it. Whoever qualifies first, that’s gonna push the other so much harder.
- SETH: That’s been our goal since we were kids. And I feel like we can do it. Especially Josh. He’s so confident in heats. He had two minutes to get two 8’s in Manly and he did it, twice. I think he’ll do it for sure, 100 percent. And I hope I’m close behind, though I’d honestly be pretty bummed if I was watching him on Tour and I was just sitting at home.
Obviously, you support one another, but how do you feel when you see your brother get a bomb at Pipe? Or land a crazy air? Do you ever have to fight back the jealousy?
- JOSH: Nah, it doesn’t happen, not when it comes to surfing. We get heavy with each other with so many other things, but we’re super stoked for one another in surfing. I always want to see him do well.
- SETH: When I see Josh get a bomb at Pipe, I get so stoked. There’s no jealousy. It’s all excitement. Pipe is such a dangerous wave, so I never want to see him fall on a set. I guess if it’s somewhere like here, and I see Josh land something huge, that fire comes out, like a little bit of what Andy and Bruce had. But it’s never jealousy, ever. It’s only motivation.