Meet the Inoue siblings who have taken APP Ride of the Season by storm: 19- year-old Taka, 15-year-old Kaede and 12-year-old Sakura and find out how a washed up bodyboard enabled them to become SUP surfing prodigies.
The Japanese groms began to pursue a career in long boarding, short boarding and SUP surfing in 2017, with the APP World Tour as their ultimate ambition. Now, the three siblings have turned their sights towards APP Ride of the Season to take it to the next level. But where did it all begin?
“We don’t come from a surfing background” Taka, the eldest sibling, tells us. “When I was twelve, I found a bodyboard that had washed up on the beach near my house. I had never surfed before, but me and my sisters would bodyboard every day and we loved it, which led me to surfing and finally, SUP surfing when I was 15 years old.”
"When I was twelve, I found a bodyboard that had washed up at the beach near my house. I had never surfed before"
Since the discovery of the bodyboard, Taka has taught both of his younger sisters to surf, and now each of them competes in their own right. Leading the pack, Taka has competed in the World Surf League and the ISA’s for longboarding, as well as claiming victory at both local and national SUP surfing events. Following in her brother’s footsteps, 15-year-old Kaede ranked 15th in the 2018 ISA World Surfing Games and was triumphant in the 2019 MaboRoyal KJ Cup for SUP. Sakura is hot on her siblings' heels, as she took part in her first SUP open event in July 2020 where she ranked 5th overall, behind her sister who claimed 2nd place.
We asked each sibling who their SUP heroes are: “Kai Lenny has always been my role model”, Taka answered. “When I had just started SUP surfing I would watch his videos to try and improve. His ride was the first SUP surfing competitor ride I ever saw. It was so impressive, and have loved it ever since.”
Sakura and Kaede both agreed that their older brother, Taka, was in fact their role model, despite the inevitable sibling rivalry that comes with all competing in the same sport. “We are competitive with each other”, youngest Sakura admits. “But I look up to both my older sister and brother, as I learnt mainly by watching them both surf”.
Our virtual competition, APP Ride of the Season, offers unsponsored SUP surfers a chance to win a trip to Hawaii and to compete amongst the best surfers in the world. Since it has begun, the three groms have eagerly jumped onto the world stage and have not held back, with weekly posts of top-quality SUP surfing, which have given the pros a run for their money.
“We want to prove to the world that there are high level SUP Surfers from Japan”
Taka, Kaede and Sakura all agreed that they entered APP Ride of the Season with the end goal of making it on the Hawaiian road trip, but also with the motivation to put Japanese SUP surfing on the map. “We want to prove to the world that there are high level SUP Surfers from Japan” Kaede emphatically states. “I also want to use this competition as a stepping-stone to compete on the APP World Tour. It is a dream of mine to surf with world-class SUP surfers and ultimately win an APP championship. All that could be made possible with the APP Ride of the Season.”
Youngest sibling, 12-year-old Sakura, agrees with her elder, “I would like to try and learn how to surf at a world-class level, as I am hoping to become a pro SUP surfer when I am older.”
“The Japanese grom family rip in any given surf craft”
The Inoue’s have captured the attention of APP judge, Joao Maya, as each sibling has been honoured with the “Wave of the Week” award multiple times throughout the competition. Joao commented that “the Japanese grom family rip in any given surf craft”.
Their efforts have not gone unnoticed as all three siblings sit firmly in the top ten of their respective categories. Taka is currently sat in third place in the unsponsored men's division and made the judge’s top 10 rank midway through the competition with this wave:
"Taka displays a round house cutback into reverse followed by top turn combo which shows great speed, repertoire and board control." - Joao Maya, APP World Tour Judge.
Kaede is currently sat in 8th place with this wave:
Sakura is sat in 9th place, just behind her sister, with this wave:
SUP surfing legend, Izzi Gomez, won her first world title when she was just fourteen years old, could twelve-year-old Sakura Inoue be following in her footsteps?
The Inoue siblings certainly do not lack motivation or skill, proven by the impressed judges and the countless clips they have entered in the competition, so could APP Ride of the Season be their big break into the industry?
Follow the hashtag #APPRideoftheSeason on Instagram to keep up with the entries and follow @appworldtour on social media for updates on the competition.