As humble as it gets, Noireaux is one of the most down to earth champions competing on the PWA tour, which comes as a surprise to many considering his back to back wins at one of the most prestigious events of the year. So what goes on in the mind of this young master, read on to find out.
Josh Stone yells "hey, why did Morgan not take that wave? It would have been ideal. It had a good size and wouldn’t have closed out! I don’t understand."
We are right in the final heats of the double elimination of the Aloha Classics. Morgan Noireaux has to defend his first place of the single elimination against Kauli Seadi. And there he is, on that very set wave but he just simply flicks off the back, which leaves Josh Stone in total disbelief. Other well known Hookipa locals like Sean Ordonez and Robby Swift cannot believe their eyes. "That can’t be for real", comes from another corner of the beach. The wave had simply looked too perfect to just let it go and for sure all the other participants of the the “Aloha" would have been stoked to get a chance to ride this beauty.
But Morgan Noireaux decides to just let it go past unridden and to head back out instead. Due to very light winds, the race director decides to run 35 minute heats and to score the best two waves. Morgan succeeds in getting an even better wave and wins the prestigious trophy of the PWA Wave World Cup. Having claimed the victory already last year, he writes history as nobody before him has managed to successively win this event twice in a row.
It all comes down to the ability of the 21 year old to read the sets here at Hookipa and to make the best out of the conditions. Perhaps nobody else spends as much time out here in the water like Morgan. He’s just always catching waves out here no matter the wind conditions or whether the waves are small or maxing out.
Two days after the event, at dusk, we’re standing at Hookipa rails and Morgan only just comes back of the water. His JP-team mate Antoine Martin puts it in a nutshell: “I don’t think anybody else spends as much time here in the water like Morgan. Hookipa is quite frankly “his" spot and he knows it like the back of his hands. He understands every set and every wave".
Ever since he turned 12, he’s almost solely been sailing at Hookipa. His mother, back then and still today, has been as surf-mad as her offspring and has been taking him straight from school to Hookipa during his teenage-years. She dropped him there and usually continued further to Spreckelsville to go windsurfing herself.
Morgan is bascially out at Hookipa whenever there are waves, no matter their quality. And on days without wind? "Then I paddle out on my surfboard" Morgan assures us. His foundations are his observation skills and natural feel for the waves - "For two years all I ride is the JP Radical Quad Thruster 83. I havent’ changed anything from 2014 to 2015".
Let's turn back the clock. At the tender diaper-age of one month, French-born family Noireaux moves to Maui/Hawaii. At the age of three Morgan already whirls down his first waves at Hookipa on a boogie board. At the age of four, he’s allowed to surf the world-famous spot for the first time. Mum takes him frequently after school along to Sprecks, where they’re spending their afternoons windsurfing together. At the age of ten, he’s windsurfing at Hookipa for the first time and fights for points in his age-group at the Aloha Classics alongside Connor Baxter and Zane Schweitzer.
"But I didn’t make it out!", the young star openly admits today. And ever since he turned 12, Hookipa is basically the only spot he goes out at. “Overall, probably only Robby Naish, Levi Siver and Kai Katchadourian have more experience at Hookipa, they have spent more time at the spot" Morgan adds. He calls about 200 windsurf days per year only at Hookipa, whereby it is mostly flat in summer. In addition there are the days surfing… "of course, at Hookipa", he’s all smiles. It’s only a five minute drive from his family home to “his" spot.
We’re wondering whether there’s ever also another spot on the menu for Morgan? On days, when he’s feeling “really exhausted and tired" he’s heading to Spreckelsville for jumping. Sometimes also to Camp One, where sail sponsor, Jeff Henderson, of Hot Sails lives. In the same breath, Morgan clarifies that “those days at Sprecks or Camp One are really rare". He’s been traveling to spots overseas since 2010, back then he was 16 years old, as part of the AWT-Tour (American Windsurf Tour), like Pistol River, Baja California and others. In summer he competed at the World Cup stops in Gran Canaria and Tenerife with mediocre success. He’s hoping to continue participating in those events and in addition to also attend the Wave World Cup in France. His French roots are calling and also for sail sponsor, Hot Sails, France is an important market. And how about Sylt? “No, no, thanks, I don’t even want to think about competing in that onshore wind".
Already at the age of 11, Morgan modeled at BIC and Tiga shootings for Carine Camboulives and Manu Bouvet. He won everybody over and immediately scored his first sponsorship contract. One year later ex JP team rider Baptiste Gossein hooks Morgan (he’s 12 years old back then) up with his first sponsorship deal with JP. Morgan (now 21) has been working with the board brand for over nine years by now.
For the lifestyle-shooting we were going to Paia and it seems that the sky would like to congratulate you, after your second victory at the Aloha Classic, just in this moment, we saw a huge double rainbow!
Yes it looked like it. Double rainbows are pretty common on Maui but I'll take it as a good sign!
Werner Gnigler is certainly a part to play in your results here in Maui. You've used, just like the previous year, a board that is almost identical to the production boards.
Yeah Werner has definitely played a big part in my success. The boards I used to win this year and the year before have the same shape. They are very similar to the production boards, they actually have the bottom of the production 68L Radical Thruster Quad, which just goes to show how well the production boards work. This allows my boards to turn tighter, but makes them only a bit slower for planning.
Until recently it was unheard of on Maui, that somebody who’s not from the islands is capable of designing a board that not only works but truly excels in Hookipa’s conditions. That truly came as a surprise for everybody here.
Yes it was a surprise, but Werner has been shaping for Jason who is one of the most radical sailors ever and JP riders have had success at Ho'okipa in the past, so I think that already showed Werner is just as capable as any of the local shapers at making boards that suit Ho'okipa!
And other riders repeatedly tested other boards, also just days before the contest, but you trusted in your own shapes and previous years designs.
I actually spent some time trying another board in case the waves were small, but when I saw how big the forecast was and that the wind was going to pretty light I made the decision to stick to my normal board since I am so comfortable on it! As I said before I used the same shapes in last years event so I know them really well and they work amazing when the waves are bigger.
And is the Thruster fin setup the optimal fin setup for you?
I've actually been using a quad for the past five or so years and I find them ideal for my style of sailing. I had some twinfins before that I loved but I found that they usually only worked in certain conditions. As for the thruster I haven't really tried them to much. I tried one quickly in Pozo, and Tenerife and it seemed to work fairly well but I think I'm going to be sticking to the quad for now. It seems to be the best combination of speed, drive, and turning ability.
All of the World Cup riders are saying that Morgan always gets the best waves. The final of the single-elimination this year was 35 minutes long yet you were hardly planing.
Yeah the final was really light, when I caught a wave and rode it all the way to the channel I would have to swim my gear out a bit before managing to waterstart. With 35 minutes though it was fine, we all had time to catch 4 or 5 waves and the conditions while riding where pretty much perfect. Since the wind was so light my strategy was to wait for the best waves, and it worked out well. I actually did not need to wait very long as my two best waves were in the first five minutes.
What makes the spot Hookipa so difficult for windsurfing? What is so special in your opinion?
I think what makes Ho'okipa so difficult is the wave itself. Ho'okipa is great because there is always waves and wind but the wave is far from perfect. We can get some amazing days but most of the time there are multiple sections breaking which makes difficult to do multiple maneuvers and depending on the swell direction it can be very choppy. Another obvious thing are the rocks and the channel. Usually when it's small it is fine but when the waves are bigger you have to sail out right in front of them to make it outside, and then if it gets big enough the channel starts to close out. The wind can also be very offshore and gusty which makes it really light on the inside and even more difficult to sail out.
What role did your weight of 70 kilogramsplay in this years Aloha Classic? Does a 90kg man, like World Champion Philip Köster, still stand a chance?
I was a bit worried for the final of the single elimination as the wind was light and Kauli, Thomas, and Camille are a lot lighter than me but it ended up being fine. I think Philip would still have a chance if it's light. A good example of a bigger guy who has done really well at Hookipa would be Josh Angulo. I think it has a lot to do with experience.
The day after your victory in the double-elimination you hungout with friends during the video premiere of Sarah-Quita Offringa's movie in Charley's, Paia. No cult of celebrity, just totally inconspicuous and humble.
I was pretty tired since we finished the event the same day and I'm not a very big partier. I had some good times with my friends and family the following days so it was fun. Most people on Maui don't really care about windsurfing so having a cult of celebrity is not really possible here! (laughing)
After your first victory at the Aloha Classic you quit your studies after two years at the University in Kahului. Did this first victory cause a breakthrough in your mind that helped you this year?
I wouldn't say I quit, I would say I put my studies on hold for the moment (laughing). At some point I might go back and finish my degree. Before my win last year I wasn't sure what I was going to do. Would I try to do something with windsurfing or not. I put it a bit more to the side to finish my studies. Winning made the decision pretty easy for me and I decided that for the moment I would enjoy myself and keep pursuing a career in windsurfing.
The day after the World Cup closing ceremony in Kahului we see Philip Köster in Upper Kanaha jumping training. And you're in Hookipa to shred again waves.
Well I like to waveride a lot more than I like to jump, although I have been spending as much time as possible jumping lately. As for Philip he was just crowned world champion so he can do whatever he wants.
Keywords "waveride" and "jumping", what are your goals?
My main goals windsurfing wise are to improve on my port tack sailing, as well as my starboard tack jumping. Working on landing doubles consistently and so on. I really want to be able to do well in the European events at some point in the next few years so I'm going to be putting some time into that. I want to be a really versatile sailor not just the guy who can only do well at Ho'okipa. Guys like Brawzinho and Ricardo are what I'd like to be like.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Hmm, I'll be twenty six in five years. Hopefully I will have reached my current goals of improving myself in different conditions. I'd like to buy some land or a house on Maui at some point so maybe I'll be closer to making that happen. I'm not really sure how I see myself but if in five years I'm happy, making a living from windsurfing, and traveling I'll be stoked.