Ayaka Suzuki Set To Battle The Men At Pipe!
If you’ve seen Ayaka Suzuki’s interview amidst the pages of Issue #44, you won’t be surprised to learn that she has earned herself a ticket to Mike Stewart’s Pipeline event, where she will take on the men. The 2018 Womens' World Champ, big-wave free-surfer and Instagram Goddess of the boog world - Suzuki is no stranger to gnarly waves and keeping the men on their toes.
So on the eve of the upcoming Pipe Contest, we thought it was only fitting we chat to the girl of the hour to find out what’s been happening in her world.
MM: Congratulations Ayaka! How are you feeling?
AS: Thank you very much! I’m very happy and excited to be the only woman to get a ticket straight into this event. Mike Stewart and the top 8 women on the APB had a discussion about how many women should be invited and how we would choose them. So I’m stoked to be selected!
MM: Have you competed against men before? Are you scared to?
AS: Yes I did In Malaysia. I competed in the men’s division because they didn’t have a women’s division and I won!
Pipeline is Pipeline. It’s different and it’s such a special place. No one ever knows what will happen. That’s why I’m excited, but I’m scared too.
MM: I see you’re in Hawaii at the moment. What have you been up to other than bodyboarding?
AS: Oh, I LOVE HAWAII! It just has a great power that I just can’t express in words. It’s actually hard to tell you what I’ve been up to to other than bodyboarding. I pretty much just surf all the time and hang out with my crew!
MM: It’s clear you’re familiar with the wave as you have been Pipeline Queen not only once, but twice. When were those competitions?
AS: My first Pipeline victory was in 2016. I won the trial and I got a ticket to surf in the actual event where I won!
In 2017, I competed in my second Pipeline Queen event. I won all the heats up to the final where I won again, which earned me my second Pipeline Queen title. I was really, really stoked. Legends like, Karla Costa Taylor, Jessica Bekker, Mayumi Kondo, Valentina Diaz and Hiromi Takase were in the finals against me when I won the event. The waves were about 4-6ft and really fun in both years.
MM: Can you remember your best waves in the event?
AS: I can’t really remember my waves from that event, but I do remember how much fun I had out there. Come to think of it, I actually don’t remember any of my waves when I win a contest. So weird, right? Haha! I think it’s because I’m so focused and in the zone.
MM: What advice do you have for other female bodyboarders when it comes to big waves? Do you think big waves scare women out of the sport?
AS: Believe in yourself. But also make sure you will be okay before you head out. You’ve really got to be confident with your skill level. Some days at Pipe when it’s really windy and the swell direction isn’t great, I won’t go out.
I believe surfing big waves inspires women. It shows that we can charge as hard as the men and it’s all part of the sport.
MM: I see you paddled out to Jaws. What’s next for Ayaka’s big wave free-surfing?
AS: This year I want to surf at Puerto Escondido more than last year and charge even bigger waves! It’s insane out there.
I would also love to surf Jaws again when it’s big and get a really good wave.
MM: Who are some other stand out female bodyboarders you have seen at Pipe? Do you think women could have their own division?
AS: Often, there’s not actually many female bodyboarders out at Pipe compared to men. Lindsey Yasui is a local there so she surfs quite a bit. Also there’s Valentina Diaz and Sari Ohhara that love Pipe. They surf really well out there. We should have a womens contest here. The best women bodyboarders should always be able to surf and compete in the best waves in the world! We would get enough women to have our own division for sure.
MM: What makes Pipe so special? How would you describe the wave?
AS: At Pipeline I feel a huge power of nature. All the professional surfers and bodyboarders are there and everyone watches. It’s kind of like a big stage for surfing. The moves are big and the wipeouts are gnarly. Maybe that’s why it’s so special too.
MM: What is your game plan in the event?
AS: I just gonna do my bodyboarding that I do everyday at Pipeline! The ultimate Pipe event would have a perfect west swell, offshore winds and the waves would all be super glassy. I’d take off, do a nice scoop up into the barrel and come out with a huge spit. Or, I’d love to hit a big ramp and fly high! That’s my goal.
MM: Who do you think is the toughest competition out of everyone in the event?
AS: My boyfriend Mack Crilley for sure!!!
MM: What else have you been up to since winning the 2018 world title?
AS: I’ve been super busy in Japan. Showing up to TV shows, Radio shows, Newspaper interviews, magazine interviews, visiting my sponsors to talk about the next year, trying to organise new sponsorships with lots of companies and more!
I’ve spent lots of time with the media to talk about bodyboarding and myself. I’m always super busy but I’ve got to do this. It’s my job and I’m so happy that I can do this in Japan. I want to make bodyboarding a bigger and more popular sport in the future!! But right now, I’m in Hawaii and training a lot for the next contest.
MM: What do you think of Japan hosting the 2020 Olympics, now that surfing will be a part of it? Do you think that bodyboarding could be in the Olympics one day?
AS: I hope it will be a huge success. A lot of people in Japan are getting to know about surfing because of the media. But the media for bodyboarding compared to surfing is not very good. I think it’s because bodyboarding is not in the Olympic Games. But I think and I hope when surfing becomes more famous, bodyboarding will become more famous too.
Yes bodyboard could definitely be in the Olympics! That’s my next dream. I want to make it happen for the next Olympic Games!!
MM: Where do you see women’s bodyboarding in the future?
AS: I think women’s bodyboarding will become a lot more popular. I already see a few women bodyboarders around the world and I think there will be more in the future. I reckon stores will begin to sell women’s bodyboarding gear and I also think women bodyboarders will be on TV shows, the radio, newspapers, magazines and more.
I also think women will receive equal pay or even more prize money than men in all events.
MM: How can other women bodyboarders encourage more women into the sport?
AS: I think there’s a lot of ways to encourage more women into the sport. Our lifestyle will hopefully appeal to more women as they can see how much fun we have in the ocean with a lot of salty friends! I think that they will watch us and think “I want to try that!”. Haha, our boogie lifestyle is pretty awesome.
MM: Is there anyone you’d like to thank or shout out to?
AS: My parents, sponsors, fans and my boyfriend Mack. Thank you very much for always supporting me with love!
You cant watch the live contest at: https://apbtour.com/live/