Checking In with Izzi Gomez
As one of the youngest competitors on the Women’s World Tour, Izzi Gomez of Jupiter, Fla. has made a name for herself with big wins against top SUP women from around the globe. It wasn’t until last year that Izzi really jumped into the SUP surfing scene, and now, she’s a leading contender in the race for the second Women’s SUP World Title. We caught up with the 14-year-old shredder at Standup for the Cure to find out what it’s like competing with the older girls and battling 2013 World Champion Nicole Pacelli. —SC
How does it feel to be in the running for the second Women’s World Title?
It feels amazing because last year I finished in third and that was a great result for me because I went to the first event, skipped the second and then went to the last two. But I’m just really happy right now. This is, honestly, all I could ever ask for and I really hope that I do well in these last two events. And, hopefully, I accomplish my goal this year, to win the World Title.
What’s it like to be one of the younger competitors on the Tour?
Most of the girls on tour are anywhere from seven to 10 years older than I am. It’s cool because they have so much more experience with different waves and everything—life. It’s really cool because even if they get put out and I’m still going, they still cheer me on. It’s a really cool environment and I’ve made friends with everybody.
Do you get intimidated by the other women on tour?
I do. The two people that intimidate me the most are Candice [Appleby] and Iballa Moreno because I know they’re some of the best girls on tour, and when I have to surf heats with them, I’m like, ‘Oh gosh.’ But, they’re my really good friends and we’re good competitors. And, you know, when one of us makes it and the other one doesn’t, we know how to keep our composure, and just put it aside and cheer each other on.
Tell us what it’s like battling 2013 World Champ Nicole Pacelli.
Well, I surfed a man-on-man heat against her in Brazil and, Nicole, she definitely battles it out to the end. In Brazil, during the final with her, it was like, she’s winning, then I’m winning, then she is—and it was crazy. She’s good.
The thing about Nicole‘s surfing is that she has a really smooth style and she does turns in the pocket. A lot of people say that she doesn’t have the power like most of us do, but she makes up for it with her style, and everything. She’s a fierce competitor and she’s doing really well.
Which of your recent big wins has been the most meaningful to you?
Definitely, I have to say Brazil because last year I won my first event at Huntington and that was pretty meaningful. But recently, Brazil was the most meaningful to me because the first event was Turtle Bay and I was so determined to win because it’s the first event on tour and I wanted to start off my year strong, but I got knocked out in the semi. And it’s not like anyone was putting pressure on me—I was putting pressure on myself—and that made me a train wreck. I didn’t know what board I was going to ride and thought I had to win that contest. I just wasn’t in the right mindset. So, coming off that and winning Brazil was so good for me, as a confidence booster, and everybody was there supporting me. It was really awesome.
So, between Turtle Bay and Brazil did you work on getting back into a better mindset?
I don’t really do anything to get into my mental zone; I just go out there and surf like I’m surfing against myself. And, if I hear that I need a score, I think that I’m free surfing and just surf. I used to get so nervous, but now I just don’t stress.
What location or competition are you looking forward to paddlesurfing at or competing in this year?
I’m really excited about going back to France for the last stop of the Tour because that was my favorite spot last year and they had a massive swell. They couldn’t hold us one day, so they held us on the other side of where the contest usually is, and it looked like Sunset Beach. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I want to surf! But I don’t want to drown.’ But, I have some cool photo trips coming up and I’m going to Tahiti in a few weeks. I really want to try to make it to Australia this year, so hopefully I’ll get to do that.
Do you have any tips to share with first-time competitors?
Well if you’re first getting into competition, you’re doing it because you love the sport, so don’t forget about that, and don’t take it too seriously—until it’s at that level where you should. But, always just have fun.
Click here for more Features.