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20 Questions With Tao Mouldey

Congratulations on your seventeenth place finish in the Under 16s Tao, the best individual ranking for the New Zealand Junior Team in 2022 at the ISA World Junior Surfing Championships. It looked like a pretty amazing trip so lets hear all about it!

How were you feeling on the trip over?
I was just frothing to be honest. Super excited, did feel a bit of nerves not knowing what to expect but mainly excited.  

Knowing the whole New Zealand Surfing community was behind you did you feel any expectation or were you just going to go hard and give it your best shot?
I didn’t have any expectations of myself, I just wanted to show the world how I could surf. Knowing that the New Zealand surfing community was behind me gave me extra confidence too. 

Was the skill level of other competitors up to your expectation?
Yeah, I obviously knew it was going to be pretty crazy because it’s all the best junior surfers in the world. They were so good, but I prepared myself for how good the level was going to be.  

How did you feel about your own surfing during the event?
I felt pretty good, my first few heats were pretty scrappy but the ones where I started dropping bigger scores felt like I got to show I can surf next to the big names.  

Overall, how what did you think about your surfing experience in El Salvador?
It couldn’t have been better to be honest. We had pumping waves every day and the water was so hot. I surfed as much as I could, probably too much. I had to make the most of it though as we don’t have waves like that every day!!  

What was it like representing New Zealand and having the team with you for support?
It’s crazy supporting your county but it makes you want to go harder knowing you’re doing it for them. The team also hyped you up a lot too and made you want to go harder!  

The commentators and media noticed the Kiwis team comradery, what was your favourite part of having all the kiwis there supporting you, did it help?
It was mean, the Haka was the best it definitely psyched a lot of teams out. The chants before and after your heat were mean too, it hyped you up a lot!!  

What was your favourite wave of the trip?
To be honest I liked La Bocana the best, it’s a way better high-performance wave. After surfing some heats at El Sunzal I ended up liking it just as much too!! Couldn’t choose out of those two but there were definitely some crazy waves up and down the coast!! 

During and before competition it was obviously all focus, but did you get to see anymore of El Salvador or do any touristy things?
We didn’t do any tourist related things, but we did do a couple missions up and down the coast and scored some crazy good waves!!!  

What was your favourite part of the whole trip?
Obviously representing New Zealand was a major highlight not many people get to do that!!  

How was it living in Surf city?
Surf city is cool. The El Tunco town is cool as too. Everyone loves surfing so it was cool to be around.  

How was the food in El Salvador?
The local food pupusas were good as. The place we were staying at also cooked the meanest meals every day. We were super lucky!!  

What was the culture like?The culture was cool as it’s way different to home or anything I had experienced so it was cool to see.  

Did you meet any cool people, make any new friends from other teams?
Yeah, met lots of mates from Aussie, Japan and South Africa. Everyone is intense at the start, but they end up getting to know each other and being really nice.  

If you got offered a surf holiday to El Salvador would you go back?
I would hundred percent go back!! The points breaks are world class and hardly anyone surfs there, the water is warm and the food good, so of course!!  

If someone was looking to head to El Salvador for a surfing holiday what is one piece of advice you would offer them?
Bring lots of tropical wax haha. Especially out in the surf to re wax. The wax melts off it’s so hot, and bring heaps of boardie’s!! Some places can be a little dodgy so watch out for that.

What’s the first thing you did when you got home?
Went for a surf in some freezing cold water haha.

What is your plan for surfing now, where to next?
I’d like to get back to the World Juniors and do even better!! 

Anyone you would like to give a shoutout too?
My sponsors, friends, family and everyone who helped to get me there, thanks heaps!! 

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Author: Dan Westerkamp