Noa Mizuno, Full Speed Ahead

Book-smart, proficient in Pipeline, the 19-year-old is forging his own path

Schools, like our surf lives, are directed by the seasons — the ringing of the classroom bell, the intellectual sweat until the next vacation. Making a go at professional surfing while still a student is a giant effort, one that Oahu’s Noa Mizuno has made for four years at Punahou High. Between First Reef Bombs at Pipe and first semester midterms, Noa’s challenge speaks for that of many aspiring pros in living an atypical student experience.

“I reached that breaking point a few times,” Noa told us. “I finished my freshman year [of high school], and I told my parents how hard of a time I was having, because I was gone a lot with it being the first year I traveled for surf. My parents luckily gave me a choice after me begging them for three months about home school. I had about a month to decide if I wanted to do it. A lot of parents are pretty strict about school, and I’m really really lucky and grateful that they gave me the chance. But after I really thought about it, I wanted to finish it out, because school is important to me.”

A big motivation for Mizuno was the completion of the above edit, which actually began as a student project during his senior year. The assignment: make a short film about something you’re passionate about. So from January until June, while other friends indulged in the onset of Senioritis, Mizuno worked at collecting footage from around home and from a spring break trip to Tahiti. Mizuno also had to make up the rough equivalent of a year of school in just one semester, because of the class time he had missed. Easy.

After months with his nose in the books, in the water, and in the editing bay, Mizuno was able to put the final touches on the film, recounting his earliest moments in the water and his current position as one of Oahu’s brightest sons.

“I think it was when I went on that trip to Tahiti in March that was the turning point for me,” Mizuno says. “Most of the waves were, like, four-foot. It wasn't scary or anything. But that’s when I recharged a bit. We had some really fun sessions with friends. Those were probably a few of the most memorable sessions of my year, and some of the most important, because it was a bit of rejuvenation for me. That was when I started thinking of this project. That's when I was thinking to myself that surfing is what I really want to do. There's no other feeling like it. Once I returned home, that period from March to June was crunch time for me at school. I thought to myself, I'm going to smash this sh-t out.” [Laughs] I decided that I’m going to have the best of both worlds.”