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A Q&A with Pro Surfer Carissa Moore

We spoke to the three-time winner of the World Surf League's Women's Championship Tour at Oceanside's Super Girl Surf Pro
Carissa Moore takes to the air during the Super Girl Surf Pro in Oceanside this past weekend | Photo by Steinmetz for ASA Entertainment

By Carey Blakely

Known for a style of surfing characterized by speed and power, 26-year-old Carissa Moore is a three-time winner of the World Surf League’s Women’s Championship Tour—the highest echelon of professional surfing. Moore was recently in town for the Nissan Super Girl Surf Pro, the largest all-women’s surf event in the world.

Unfortunately, she became sick on Sunday and was unable to finish competing in the Super Girl Surf Pro, which she won last year. The event is part of the Qualifying Series, not a mandatory stop on the Championship Tour, so it will not affect her season’s standing. Moore is ranked No. 1 on the 2019 Women’s Championship Tour as a result of her cumulative event placements, including one contest win, so far this year.

The lifelong resident of Oahu, Hawaii, sat down with San Diego Magazine in Oceanside this weekend to talk about her season and the state of the sport:

The World Surf League (WSL) made waves by implementing pay parity for men and women in 2019. How has equal prize money impacted you personally?

It’s such a special thing to be a part of a sport that’s at the forefront of empowering women and creating equality. I’m so proud to be a woman in surfing right now, and I applaud WSL for giving us that platform to really shine. I’m very fortunate that I have really great family and sponsors, so it’s not that I don’t see the impact, but it allows for everyone on the circuit to have surfing be a lifestyle, and a decent living that provides for the people they love, so I think that’s amazing.

You are well positioned to represent the United States in the 2020 Olympics, when surfing makes it debut. Growing up, did you ever think surfing would be an Olympic event and did you ever picture yourself competing there?

[Smiling and shaking head] No, no. It wasn’t ever really on my radar or something that I ever dreamed of! But it’s super cool. I would love to qualify and represent the U.S.A. in the Olympics. There’s so much work to be done; the American field for the women is so tough…I’ve kind of been deflecting Olympic questions because I’m just like, ahh, I can’t really get that excited until December [end of Olympic qualifying season for WSL]!

With pay parity and Olympic-qualification buzz, this is a particularly momentous year for the Super Girl Pro. What is the most uplifting aspect of the Super Girl Pro for you?

The most uplifting part is seeing how incredibly talented the whole field has gotten with the next generation. It’s just so nice to see that the future is in really good hands.

I know that you’re a proponent of giving back. Tell us a bit about how you’re doing that with Moore Aloha [surf camps meant to inspire confidence and compassion].

Moore Aloha is super near and dear to my heart. I launched it last year with my dad. It’s very small, grass roots—it’s our way to make a difference. Empowering little girls and women is something that I’m really passionate about. And so how can I do that, and what is that platform? By using surfing. Girls don’t have to already surf, but we use surfing to inspire them and help them chase their dreams, whatever those may be, and encourage them to be ambassadors of aloha—just good people. To me that’s more important.

There are only 18 female surfers at any Championship Tour event. Is it a harmonious mermaid colony behind the scenes, or do you attempt to psych each other out, break opponents’ boards [wink], that sort of thing?

I think that we’re all just really competitive. In the beginning there was maybe a little more cattiness and it was harder to separate friendships from heats, but we’ve all matured really beautifully, and we do a good job of leaving it in the water and being friends on land.

What percentage of your year do you spend away from home due to contests and other surfing-related commitments?

I would say I spend half to three-fourths of the year on the road.

Your next event on the Championship Tour is the Surf Ranch Pro, which you won last year. What do you think of the controlled environment of surfing waves in a pool and of the controversy surrounding it?

I don’t get caught up in the controversy. I’m all for it. I think it’s rad. Wave pools are never going to take over surfing. They’re just an addition, and I think it’s a great addition. I also think it’s nice to focus on a performance rather than fight for waves with the variability that the ocean has.

As someone who spends most days in the water, what does the ocean continue to teach you about yourself?

How to breathe, to stay present, to trust myself, to have faith—those are the constant themes.

A Q&A with Pro Surfer Carissa Moore

Carissa Moore takes to the air during the Super Girl Surf Pro in Oceanside this past weekend | Photo by Steinmetz for ASA Entertainment

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