The Most Influential Women In Surf
The Most Influential Women In Surf
Be it in big waves or on the pro tour, the popularity of women's surfing is reaching never-before-seen heights. As the sport flourishes, there's a relatively small number of ladies responsible for pushing things to new levels. After looking at a number of factors, including contest results, free-surf performances, social relevance and sway with sponsors, the following is a handful of the most key influencers driving the sport forward.
At 21, Carissa Moore already has two ASP World Titles to her credit. The scary thing is, it looks like she's just getting started. Under the spotlight since she was 13, the surf world has watched Moore blossom from childhood into the champion that she is today. Right now, she is hands-down the most feared competitor on the ASP World Tour. "Carissa is the complete package," four-time ASP World Champ Lisa Andersen says. "Technique, style, ability, smarts, she has it all." Sponsored by Target, Red Bull and Hurley (owned by Nike), Moore is also changing the kind of financial opportunities available to female surfers.
By the time she was 25, Stephanie Gilmore already had five ASP World Title trophies sitting on her mantel. Today she's not just one of the most dominant world champions ever, but she has become a very visible spokeswoman for women's surfing as a whole, using her influence to infuse the sport with fun and irreverence. Outside of the competitive environment, she dabbles in fashion, art and music and has modeled for magazines such as Vogue, elevating her profile even more.
Tyler Wright's sessions at P-Pass in Micronesia have served as a touchstone for women's tube riding. Taking a break from her regular role as an ASP combatant, Wright timed her visit to the South Pacific with a very powerful swell. The result was the emergence of some of the most dramatic images of a woman in the barrel ever seen. Wright serves as a good example that one doesn't have to be restricted by labels. While she's a perennial ASP World Title contender, she's also an ambitious freesurfer breaking down barriers outside of the competitive environment. Expect to see more women pulling into deeper tubes thanks to images like this one.
Bringing women's big-wave surfing to the mainstream, Maya Gabeira is both a multiple XXL Award winner and an ESPY recipient. Tackling infamous breaks such as Waimea Bay, Jaws, Dungeon's and Teahupo'o, throughout her career, she's tempted fate on waves measuring up to 50 feet. In 2013, her luck almost ran out when she nearly drowned while surfing off the coast of Nazare, Portugal. While she's still recovering from the incident, Gabeira's back in the water and already preparing for her next encounter with surf of unusual size and power.
In 1987 Lisa Andersen was named ASP "Rookie of the Year." An ASP World Title would not come to her until 1994. She credits becoming a mother as the key to that breakthrough. "I surfed most of '93 pregnant, had my daughter, and then won the title the next year," Andersen says. "It changed everything for me." By the time she was done, Andersen had won four titles in a row, transforming the image of women's surfing in the process. Ushering in the "Roxy revolution," she surfed with power and aggression, while never forsaking the feminine grace of the lines she drew. Twenty years after that first title, she's still a highly influential ambassador for both Roxy and women's surfing as a whole.
The only surfer to ever attend a prayer service with the president and first lady, and the first female surfer since Gidget to inspire a major Hollywood production, Bethany Hamilton has taken the tragedy of losing an arm in a shark attack and turned it into her greatest asset. Coming off of a win at the Women's Pipeline Pro earlier this year, she has grown to become one of the most followed surfers in social media. In the water and out, Hamilton has an impact like few others.
Like Rell Sunn before her, Kelia Moniz is grace and beauty on a surfboard defined. Born into one of Hawaii's most respected surfing families, from early on there was little doubt what path she would take in life. An ASP Women's World Longboard Champion, the easygoing girl from the South Shore is affectionately known as "Sister" by her family and friends. "I think the only thing behind the whole nickname is that I'm like a sister to not only my brothers, but to a lot of friends," Moniz says with a smile. "And my name can be a little difficult for people to remember and pronounce, so 'Sister' just works for everyone. I love it."
You can thank Lakey Peterson for popularizing the aerial in women's competitive surfing. Before she joined the ranks of the ASP Women's World Tour, it was virtually unheard of for a woman to ditch the fins or take to the air. But growing up around Ventura, Calif., she's a student of Dane Reynolds' brand of surfing and has thus incorporated some of what she's learned into her act on tour. And while she may not have been the first woman to land an air, she was the first to do it while everybody was watching.
Keala Kennelly has paid her dues. She's nearly drowned more times than she can count, and a couple of years ago practically tore her whole face off on the reef at Teahupo'o. That said, nobody has been a more outspoken proponent of women's surfing, especially in big waves. From one-time ASP World Title contender to XXL Big Wave Awards champ, her experience is vast, and she's not afraid to share the opinions she's formed over the years. Today she's charging as hard as ever while also earning a living as a DJ and occasionally as a real estate agent.
She may not be the most powerful female surfer in the world yet, but don't take your eyes off of 16-year-old Dax McGill. Last year she won the NSSA Open Women's division (her brother Flynn won the Open Boys), adding to her already well-padded competitive resume. Growing up on the North Shore of Oahu, she's seen the world's best surfers come trudging through her backyard, and as such is wise and experienced beyond her age. And with her having a role model like Carissa Moore to look up to, the future is bright on Oahu.