By Mara Pyzel
I first chatted with Championship Tour contender Seth Moniz just days after falling out of Portugal’s EDP Billabong Pro Ericeira in Round Two. This is not a good result. Though disappointment was evident, the 21-year-old’s humble spirit still remained optimistic and Moniz handled himself with confidence, determination, and wisdom beyond his years. Seth talked to Freesurf about what he is doing to prepare for this winter’s surf season – and what he isn’t doing. He also discussed where his head is at for the fast approaching Vans Triple Crown and a peek into 2019.
Seth Moniz is no stranger to the ups and downs of contest life. Coming onto the QS tour at 18, he was fresh off of the amateur ranks of the National Scholastic Surfing Association. “I was losing so much. I think before this year I didn’t even make the top 20 of the QS which was such a pull on my confidence. But after every year I’m like ‘Aw, I havent really had a breakthrough performance, didn’t make a heat or a final or anything else.’ I didn’t really make any of my goals, but I was still young, I think 18, 19.… And then I think I went into this year just a lot more confident.” Seth’s steep learning curve proved he’s got the grit it takes to work his way up in the ranks, both then and now. With a spot on the WSL Championship Tour basically secured for the 2019 competitive season, Seth’s barreling towards the upcoming year, bringing with him this same confidence, while simultaneously remaining grounded.
Keeping career goals simple and concise for the moment, Seth is stoked as long as he keeps a spot on tour. “I’m not looking ahead of things, not trying to win a World Title my first year or anything. I just want to have a couple stand out performances, get a few results and just kind of maintain my spot this year and see how I’m feeling the next year and kind of just do it slowly. I think that’s a good way a lot of guys have done it. So that’s just kind of my one goal: to stay in top 22 this year and then next year see if I can get into the top 10. Yeah, that’s kind of it right now. Nothing too far ahead.”
Having done some prep for the 2018 swell season, Seth’s new winter quiver was awaiting his arrival back in Hawai`i post-Portugal. Thinking ahead has given Seth ample time to test out his newest models from shaper Wade Tokoro and make the necessary tweaks, ensuring his performance is bolstered by the perfect winter boards. “I’ll be making my rounds up to the North Shore whenever there’s waves and basically just testing my first batch of boards.” Also, a motivator is the number “7” on each one of Seth’s boards representing his seven family members, a tradition his mom Tammy started in Seth’s grom days.
Family has always been a priority for all Moniz’s and Seth has spent much of the year with brother Josh, circling the globe and scoring waves. This winter, Seth will be surrounded by his entire family and friends with all eyes on him. But he isn’t letting this added pressure phase him just yet, “The heat definitely will be on when the contests are on. I’ve been saying I’m not gonna [let it get to me] but I’m sure I’ll feel it when the contest comes around.”
The Billabong team, who also share family-like bonds, provide a little extra push for Seth, now a veteran member of the team. “When I see someone [on the team] do something super cool I can’t do, that will get me stoked. Or when I see someone who is super on it, like getting up early and going for a surf, or just like not being lazy; that kind of gets me motivated. That’s the kind of stuff that gets me pumped up.”
Seth has also been seeking out guidance from legendary uncles who are better versed in surfing Sunset and Haleiwa than Seth, himself, is. Though the Town native still has a leg-up on the competitors not raised in these tumultuous Hawaiian waters, Seth is wise to talk story with the likes of his Billabong team coach Rainos Hayes and others, gaining invaluable insight, tricks, and any other supportive and tactical information from those who have spent so much time in those waves. “I have Rainos Hayes in my corner and he’s definitely brought great success to a lot of guys at Sunset and Haleiwa. I guess it’s just on me to surf and compete well and to just do it with confidence.”
In further prep for this season and life on tour, Seth is shifting his training back to the basics of surfing. Feeling confident with his airs and progressive footwork, Seth wants to revisit the fundamentals of the ride. “I just switched to working on my turns and working on my consistency, on that stuff and try to bring consistency into that because, especially if I’m on tour, all the tour guys… those guys don’t fall; they don’t make mistakes. That’s one of the big things: just my consistency and trying not to fall too much.” Seth is willing to put in the hard work and patience needed to earn a spot at that top. From celebrating wins to learning from losses, Seth recognizes the value of it all and understands there is no substitute for time and experience. “I think I was due for [a loss],” Seth stated about his Portugal performance, “I hate to say that, but in the last three events a lot of the heats have gone my way…It’s kind of a good thing. It won’t get you too confident. You can kind of get ahead of yourself when you start doing so well and stop working as hard.”
Seth also filled us in on what he won’t be doing for a while. Other than limiting air time by focusing on the fundamentals and staying on-island for the winter, Seth is sticking to surfing in the traditional sense. “I definitely won’t be foiling this winter,” he said. No, it’s not out of principle. Rather, Seth maintains that foiling, requiring a different technique than traditional surfing, made returning to his short boards feel foreign. Being a beginner can have its challenges, as Seth found out after the foil collided with his cranium, leaving a gash on the back of his head requiring stitches. Moniz put the foil away, saving it for some off-season fun.
Seth reiterated that his priority for this year and the early months of 2019 is to continue maintaining focus on contests. He has gotten used to the nerve wracking sensation of surfing in front of large crowds, a phenomenon that will only increase with his success and popularity amongst the masses. Recognizing that confidence is key, Seth remarked on his growth as a competitor, “I’ve been making it to the final days I’ve definitely learned a lot about how to deal with the pressure of the big crowds like the US Open with a lot of people watching, a lot of good surfers, pro surfers, people I look up to watching, and I think I’m getting used to being around a lot of pressured environment having all eyes on you. I like it. I’m starting to enjoy it way more.”
Before his schedule gets pumping again, Seth will also get time to squeeze in some fun with family and friends on a planned snowboarding trip to Japan in January. His commitment to friends and family is always his number one priority and a trip with those who matter most to him will be a great way to wrap up a busy year. It won’t be long before the hard-working Seth Moniz jumps right back into it – this time with the big guns – as the tour kicks off next year in Spring 2019.