Exposure Shits On Image — Part 1

posted by / News / August 24, 2010

From Backdoor to backflips, Flynn jus' rush 'em already. Photo: Jeff Flindt

From backhand bottom turns to backflips to Backdoor, it's Flynn Novak. Photo: Jeff Flindt


This is Part 1 in a three-part interview, broken up for online attention spans.

Flynn Novak finished fifth at Pipe this year. Kelly Slater gave him huge props on his Innersection. And he’s the only surfer in the world currently pulling legitimate backflips.

He also has no proper sponsor. No travel budget. No savings. And no emo art-guy surf blog marketability plan. He has really spiky hair.

He’s a 27-year-old pro surfing lifer who never quite made it big.

But he landed another backflip at Padang today. He may just land one tomorrow, too. The Kustom Airstrike practically owes him $50,000. And this just might be his big shot.

If there’s any brand out there who needs a hardworking, Pipe surfing, North Shore team rider with too-spiky hair who can do backflips into the barrel — please call 808-555-FLIP. Operators are standing by. —Nathan Myers



SURFING: Are you sponsored?
FLYNN NOVAK: Ahhh… [laughs] Sponsors, huh? What’s your definition of sponsored? There’s no paychecks, if that’s what you mean. XM runs ads and gives me leashes and grip. Matuse wetsuits. Futures fins. Jeff Bushman surfboards when I can get ‘em.

So, how do you survive?
Basically I’ve been surviving off my equal 5th at Pipe last year, which paid nine grand. That’s the last money I had, and that’s all spent on this trip for the Padang Cup. I don’t know. Sitting around isn’t gonna help anything, so I’m spending my last pennies to keep it going.

Why don’t you have a major sponsor?
A lot of people blame the economy, which I think is bullshit. I’ve been shopping myself around for the last three years to every single major company you can think of. Why don’t I have a sponsor? No idea.

Do you think a lot of guys who have big-label sponsors don’t deserve them?
Yeah, if you wanna get edgy with it. There’s a lot of examples of guys who are given everything and don’t appreciate it. But I’m not going to hate on anyone. More power to them. But hopefully, the bosses who are funding laziness eventually see how much more they could get for their buck if they had a workhorse like myself.

You think it’s easier if you live in California?
Probably, but then the credibility isn’t there. Hawaii is where the credibility is. There are so many guys who are hungry as shit over here. If you gave me or any of them the opportunity, we’d put the rest of their team to shame.

Is hard work more valuable than a marketable image?
Yeah, but there aren’t that many people who are very on it. The guys who have everything are usually the laziest. The only exception I know is Jamie O’Brien. He’s working every single day. He’s directing his own movies. He’s creative and edgy. He’s been doing it his whole life. I’m not jealous of him, but I definitely admire his position.

And even Jamie was down to just Red Bull last I heard. Why is that?
I think the companies worry about guys’ image too much. At the end of the day, exposure shits on image. If you’re getting exposure, if you’re getting their logo onto magazines and movies and stuff, that’s just free advertising. I think you should be paid for that. But these guys worry if a guy is emo enough or artsy enough…but if you sponsor someone who fits your image and they only get one spread a year, is that worth it?

You’re 27 now. How much longer can you keep this up?
That does weigh on my mind sometimes. But I’m gonna run with it. Thirty is the new 20. Guys used to retire at 28 on tour, but that’s probably the average age now. As long as you’re taking care of yourself…but I definitely try to think of Plan B.

You sound like you don’t even have a Plan B.
[laughs] There’s some options that I just don’t like thinking about. So I don’t. I just put them away. I don’t want to dwell on negative shit. I’m trying to stay positive. I have faith.

Faith is what it takes to land a flip.
It is. Totally.

Part 2 of the Flynn Novak interview will be posted tomorrow.


Submissions for the 2010 Kustom Airstrike must be in by August 31. Here again is Flynn Novak’s entry:

Flynn Novak – Airstrike entry 2010 from Kustom Airstrike on Vimeo.

Related Articles:

Exposure Shits On Image — Part 3
August 26, 2010

The final chapter in the Flynn Novak Interview more >

Exposure Shits On Image — Part 2
August 25, 2010

The Flynn Novak Interview, cont. more >

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  • TweeterMonkey

    Finally a bit of appreciation for the most under-rated surfer in the world. Thanks Surfing.

  • LilChip

    Flynn’s style is whack, in and out of the water. He’s got a chip on his shoulder the size of his head. And he’s TOO OLD to be pretending at pro surfing anymore. Go away, Flynn Novak, there’s a reason you’re not sponsored.

  • DaveO

    Flynn would win the airstrike if Kustom cared about progression rather than marketing — but we all know better than that right. Doesn’t Kerr ride for Kustom? Just watch…

  • bob

    that picture will definitely get him a sponsor.

  • Mike G

    The 2nd comment on this site is complete bullshit:

    First of all Flynn Novak’s style in an out of the water is as smooth as butter, minus the spiky hair.

    Second of all, Flynn is one of the most friendly down to earth person, especially in pro surfing’s ego trip scene.

    Third of all, it seems like Flynn is just getting started, and age is just a number. He’s more well rounded than 99% of every other surfer in the world!

    Fourth of all, I don’t think Flynn will ever go away, he’s stamped his name in surfing history!

    Fifth of all, ‘LilChip’ sounds like an other ignorant internet hater with nothing better to do, hahahahahaha!!!!

  • Steph L.

    Lilchip ur a typical donkey. Flynn is legit and under rated. Post your real name and then talk shit about people you don’t know and have probably never seen surf in person. Go Flynn handle your business.

  • Josh

    I agree with Mike G. To know Flynn is to know a really straight up, talented, nice guy.

    “LilChip” those are some pretty brave (anonymous) words. Jealous much?

  • Mike

    what Mike G said…..

  • Vince Cavataio

    Flynn is one of the hottest surfers on the North Shore no doubt about it. I’ve been shooting photos for a long time out here and If Flynn is out I ALWAYS score….ALWAYS!

    He’s also one of the coolest and nicest guy you would want to meet. No attitude always say’s hello when he see’s you. I wish him the best he deserves it.

  • wiggy

    Flynn is truly a hard worker. His surfing skills speaks for itself. I find it hard to believe that any major surf company has not scooped him up. He is so marketable and has been in the surfing spotlight for many years now. NO FEAR , YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED FOR HOLDING HIM BACK AND NOT PAYING HIM WHAT YOU OWE HIM!!!

  • Imaikalani

    To Lil Chip,

    Go away Flynn Novak? Are you kidding me? The guy is the REAL deal; someone who pulls into 12 foot heaving pipe and does back flips. How more real can it get? I think I want to slap your head, repeatedly, over and over. I might just excuse you from your ignorance because you are probably some android kook, but yeah…..come to Hawaii and all da boys will take turns in slapping your head.

  • Sean Davey

    Couldn’t agree with more with Mike G in every aspect. Power to you Flynn. He is THE BEST UNSPONSORED SURFER today!!! Hands down!!! Someone needs to get rid of some lazy overpaid non-achievers and give Flynn some bright new stickers to start with…..

  • pat

    Fuck the haters!! flynn rips over someone like Dion. get over it people. its truth.



  • Brad Melekian

    Lotta Flynn supporters on the comment board (f-u lil’chip), so I’d like to pose a serious question: why DOESN’T Flynn have a major sponsor? He’s charging at Pipe. Doing a backflip that no one else can. But none of the companies like him? Is it personal? Bad mojo? Da economics? Bad luck? What.

  • Mik

    Novak is similar to Bruce Irons, or looking waaay back, Mike Hynson. The complete package. I think the problem is that the Hawaiian surf co’s have a racial limit. And so do the mainland co’s who want to sponsor Hawaiian’s. Its just a reality. So I suggest he look to the non-surf industry for sponsorship. There’s lots of doors opening, and as stated above, he is the complete package. Cool flip, btw.

  • mike

    GET A JOB, SAVE MONEY, TRAVEL AND SURF- and go from there…! SITTING AROUND ON YOUR ARSE IS SHOWING ANY POTENTIAL SPONSOR YOUR NOT WORTH IT. Hard work pays off, you attitude is pathetic. Just being a White “Hawaiian” wannabe will leave you ending up like the majority of them on ICE, UNEMPLOYED and blaming the world for their shit lives.

    WAKE UP…

  • Rick Novak

    Ignore the “LilShits” of the world, they just want attention and the only way they can get it is to be annoying. Being a musician, I just wrote a song dedicated to all the trolls and haters who’ve been pestering Flynn. Anyone curious, feel free to check out “Surf Like Flynn” at:


    Hope you’re amused!
    Aloha, Bad Uncle Rick.
    P.S. Great interview, Nathan. You’ve redeemed Surfing Magazine! :>)

  • Todd Johnson

    Josh Kerr is calling out Flynn’s double grab on Stab…


    …but he still hasn’t pulled his own 720. If he pulls it, I reckon he wins. If not…double grab?

  • Sean Davey

    I can assure you that Flynn does everything OTHER than sitting on his arse! Notice the haters on this board are nameless donkeys without an identity, therefore their opinion is garbage.

  • jf

    Every cent that is paid to pro surfers comes from a marketing budget. “Deserve” don’t come into it, sad to say. Flynn sure has the skills, desire and attitude, BUT perhaps his “hard work” (in trying to get a paying sponsor) has been misplaced? PLENTY of guys with less ability (than Flynn) have played the “dancing monkey game” to get paid , moving from Hawaii to California , getting a hair cut , gone straight edge (or at least pretending too).Forget the word, deserve, figure out what the organ grinder wants then dance monkey, DANCE. If the people throw money, you win!

    Don’t feel too dirty this is what most of the working world have to do.

  • Rachel Kaneta

    Flynn is an amazing person, and a great surfer with the best attitude and outlook on life in and out of the water!!! :)

  • Summer Ford

    I think Flynn riiiiips harder than any paid sponsored surfer out there especially in all kinds of wave size & conditions. As for u Flynn haters, do u guys even surf or are u just cashing checks with ur mouth ur body can’t handle. Re: Lil Chip… I’m a woman & even I’d like to serve u up a plate full of knuckle sandwhiches for bein a punk a** b*tch. I hope Flynn wins the Kustom Airstrike, his entry was by far the best on there, backflip to mini tube ride was just too siiick!!!

  • stay home??/

    JF said it all DANCE MONKEY DANCE and for RICK NOVAK stay the f### out of FLYNNs life. Your the reason people are hating. KEEP YOUR COMMENTS TO INTERSECTION….

  • Chels

    Flynn is awesome -somebody sponsor him!

  • Insight

    It’s real cool to see all the love for this guy in these posts. He deserves it.

  • John Fort

    Kerr was not putting him down. He said it was a good move but he doesn’t like
    double grabs. But he is right double grabs are lame. That’s not saying Flynn’s move wasn’t good. Regarding the 50k well a air reverse won it last year. Anything is possible.

  • Pingback: Exposure Shits on Image — Part 2 | JAQ News

  • thetruth

    Alright. There are certainly internet haters, and there are also people (i.e. Rick Novak) that are so blinded by what they think Flynn deserves they are single handedly sabotaging any career he has left. Listen to this song.

    “surf like flynn” http://www.myspace.com/buckyburro

    He calls out three major surf brands, and says surfing magazine has there “heads up their ass.” Is this guy for real? And he says he has no chip on his shoulder? And Flynn isn’t the best unsponsored surfer. Not even the best from hawaii. Hank Gaskell shits on him. So does Gavin Gillette. So does Ola Eleogram. That is the truth.


    Flynn has the imagination, skill, determination, perseverance and GUTS of a champion.
    Of course “LilChip”, (perhaps a more appropriately name would be “LiNuts”) wants him to go away. Flynn isn’t going away. In fact, he will continually get better and better.
    So … eat your heart out Lil one!

  • Mike G.

    Keep dreaming “theTruth”

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, Rick Novak and even a hater like you. Your name has false meaning though because what you posted should be titled “theFalse”…

    Flynn Novak is the real deal in and out of the water, while you are just a negative kook!

  • rob

    free fins,leashes,grip,wetsuits and surfboards.he also lives in hawaii.dude,your 27.time to be a working man that can surf his ass off.

  • peanut

    flynn rips but so does hundreds of surfers. the one’s that get sponsored have that “it” factor… flynn is boring and vanilla… he’s just not “cool” enough… flynn does not sell product. you never hear any grom say “flynn novak is my favorite surfer” because he has nothing else for kids to latch onto…. he simply surfs good. sorry bud a lot of people surf good too. jamie obrien rips too but sorry fella’s he’s not selling product either.

  • Pepe

    Flynn, your the man , so dedicated to the surf, the only one in the universe doing flips off those waves. keep it up brother! Dude your my man in or out of the surf !!
    keep up the hard work, it will pay off in the end ! Don’t listen to the haters, jealously gets u no where?

  • reality

    The reality of Sponsored Surfing

    Companies are established to make $
    Companies need to advertise their products.
    Companies pay surfers $ to advertise their products.

    People buy surf products to be cool.

    Surfers need to be cool to sell companies products.

    Flynn Novak is a nice guy, surfs amazing etc etc. unfortunately he is not cool so companies will not give him $ to advertise their products.

    The Reality; You get paid to sell a product, not surf well.

  • Rick Novak

    The whole world is watching.
    (Surf world, that is….)