By Tetsuhiko Endo; photograph by Jason Kenworthy
Carissa Moore is the youngest woman to ever win the world championship of surfing. She’s the first Hawai’ian to do it in 30 years, first woman to grace the cover of Surfer magazine in over ten, and she has a diploma from the Punahou School in Honolulu, the alma mater of that other notable Hawai’ian, Barak Obama. Not bad for a 19-year-old.
Moore has been surfing’s golden child almost since she began riding waves in the mid-90s. After winning 11 junior world titles, she spent the latter half of her teens competing against boys until turning pro. I’ve had the pleasure of observing her surfing from the water on a couple of occasions this year. She exhibits a power and fluidity on waves rare among both men and women. It reflects not only intense training, but a once in a generation knack for the complexities of how to move over a constantly changing mass of water. Perhaps most tellingly, she retains a certain playfulness and spontaneity that is evocative of that other great competitive surfer ... Kelly Slater.
Whether her career will go on to mirror his, only time will tell, but Adventure was able to snag her for a short interview recently to see what keeps her running on all cylinders.
Adventure: Has it been hard to stay motivated after doing this for most of your life?
Carissa Moore: Not really. Both my love for the sport as well as my love of a challenge drives me to compete.
“Burn out” is often a problem for young athletes, how have you avoided it?
CM: With my balanced life. I was kept in high school full-time, and generally lived in a well-grounded atmosphere. Given my upbringing, it would have been almost impossible for me to burn out.
What’s the best part of your job?
CM: Spending time in beautiful places with awesome people.
What’s the worst part?
CM: I can't complain about a single thing.
Do you maintain a certain diet to help keep you in shape?
CM: I eat a lot of vegetables and protein, while staying away from too many carbs and sweets.
What made you want to finish high school?
CM: Not finishing high school was never an option for me. I look forward to one day attending college in order to kick start my second career. I’d like to be a teacher some day.
Do you think being a professional athlete from a young age makes you grow up faster?
CM: The life lessons that you learn on the road definitely contribute to an advanced maturity. You also learn a lot from both the sponsors and media that surround the sport.
What do you think should be the role of sex appeal in the way women’s surfing is marketed?
CM: If done the right way, I think sex appeal is just a bonus that would help market the sport.
What do you always take with you when you travel?
CM: My father.
What’s in your i-Pod right now?
CM: Eminem and Justin Bieber ... it's somewhat contradictory, but it works.
CM: A book about long-distance swimmer Lynn Cox called Swimming To Antarctica.
When was the last time you were scared?
CM: When I had my ear pierced for the third time three days ago.
You are known for your sunny demeanor. Do you have any pet peeves?
CM: Whenever my little sister uses my clothes without asking.