Takumi Nakamura (Pro Surfer)
I'm taking a caseload of these on my next tour, man!
Our guest on this edition of TENGA Voice is Takumi Nakamura, a child prodigy in the professional surfing world with his second place at the 2012 ISA Junior World Championship in Panama – the highest rank for any Japanese professional surfer in history. Since then, Takumi has grown into one of the top surfers in the world, handling his own among top athletes. We take to the beach with Takumi to talk sand, surf and TENGA!
What got you in to surfing?
When I was young my family moved to a seaside town in the Mie area of Japan; they had just begun their business managing a large-scale parking area near the beach. Naturally this place was packed with surfers so I had been around the surfing community for a long time. One day, my brother began taking surfing lessons and before I knew it, I was hitting the waves alongside him.
You’ve been competing from a very young age; when did you first get to grips with your “Pro” status?
As a child, surfing was just one of many sports I took part in just for the fun of it. I think I was around six when I first entered a competition, but I think I started taking it seriously from around the third or fourth grade. Since then, surfing has been my life. I ranked well in a number of competitions and became a pro when I entered the trials at 16. There’ve been many merits to going pro – sponsorship contracts and invitations to international competitions, etc. – but I think the bigger change was my mental state; I think it was then that my mind finally settled and I knew this is what I was going to do with my life. Just that feeling boosted my motivation.
What’s the day-to-day life of a professional surfer like?
A large part of it is simply surfing in the various beaches near where I happen to be, or photo shoots for magazines. I practice during the times I’m not “working”, and travel around the world searching for great waves. I can’t recall them all but I’ve been to Hawaii, Australia, Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Panama, Taiwan… over 10 countries and numerous great beaches. Depending on the season my schedule can be pretty tight with competitions; one in Australia then another in Japan the following week, then back off to another country. It’s important for me to get there a few days before the competition since waves are completely different given the condition of the beach and points in the water itself but at the busiest of times, even that practice is not always possible.
What is it about surfing that you like?
Being in the water is second nature to me. At home or on the road, the first thing I think in the morning is “OK – gotta hit the waves!” I feel weird if I haven’t been in the water for a few days. The life of a professional athlete can be constant stress, an upward climb of struggle, but right now all I can think about is how much I love surfing! Sure, there are days when I just don’t want to grab my board, or times I feel down about messing up in a competition but those are small worries – they’re gone if I sleep on them for a day. Surfing has connected me to some amazing people and taken me to such awesome places – it’s all amazing!
What’re your current goals?
There’s this competition called the WCT (World Championship Tour) that only the best of the best can enter; it’s the dream of any professional surfer and is undoubtedly the highest honor even to take part. Me, alongside many of my peers in Japan have been aiming to enter but as of yet, not a single Japanese pro in history has entered this competition. Entrees to the WCT are accepted from those who score big in the 20 or so yearly WQS (World Qualifying Series) so my goal for now is to score high and consistent points in these, always aiming higher. It’d be sweet to break into the top 50 in the near future.
You’ve been a TENGA Sponsored Athlete since 2014. What was the reaction from your fans?
I have this TENGA sticker you gave me on my surfboard, it always gets questions from the international surfers. “What is it?” – oh man you should see their faces when I tell them who I’m sponsored by! It’s always great fun – the response is really positive. Recently on a trip to Virginia I took a few TENGA I had (unopened) at home with me and handed them out to some other surfers – by the end of the day they were fighting over them! The EGGs are great for this as well, since they’re small and easy to carry.
We heard there was quite a response on facebook to your sponsorship announcement?
Oh yeah! You should have seen it when I posted the announcement! It’s gotta be one of the top commented – if not the most commented post on my page. Everyone was real interested to find out what it was; my phone wouldn’t stop ringing that day!
Do you have a favorite TENGA?
The TENGA CUP UltraSize(U.S.) Series. It’s always in my main surfboard case. I’m a pretty light traveler so the case only contains the board, wetsuit and other surfing gear but the TENGA sits in there – no one really even notices!
When did you first discover TENGA?
There was a guy on my team a while back… We were taking a ride on his car and found a mountain of TENGA piled on the backseat. I didn’t know the brand back then so I innocently asked what they were – come to think of it, what a place to store your TENGA stash, huh?! Back then I used to live in a shared apartment with a number of friends so my first time was in a toilet! You know, even in conditions like that, a man needs his, er, “alone time!”
If you were to design a TENGA, what would it be like?
I was thinking of something that could fit in your pocket since I travel a lot; with the concept of “anytime, anywhere” you know? But then…
I guess you’ve seen our newest product then?
Yeah! The POCKET TENGA*! Man this is exactly what I had in my mind! I’m taking a caseload of these on my next tour, man! *POCKET TENGA is pending global release – keep an eye on our website for details!
Takumi Nakamura (Pro Surfer)
Born April 8th, 1996 in Nara, Japan 175cm/65kg
Surfboard Shaper: YU
Favorite Surfer: Andy Irons
2012 ISA World Junior Surfing Championship Under 16 – Second Place
2008 NSA Japan Surfing Championship Kid’s Class – First Place
2007 NSA Japan Surfing Championship Kid’s Class – First Place
2006 NSA Japan Surfing Championship Kid’s Class – First Place