“Follow your bliss, wear sunscreen and stop drinking!” 12 surfers on the advice they’d give their 16-year-old selves

We asked 12 of our favourite surfers to imagine Marty McFly pulling up in his Delorean and taking them back to the year in which they were 16. A longer trip for some than others! They could then offer their 16 year old self any kind of advice they wanted, probably wearing a disguise so they didn’t freak them out or irreversibly disrupt the space-time continuum. Here’s what they said


Don’t ever doubt your first instinct and always follow your bliss!!!

Keala Kennelly


Hang in there, puberty ends… You won’t be going through this awkward phase forever. People that are mean to you in High School don’t matter and in a few years they will be trying to friend request you on something called Facebook.

The boys you like that don’t like you back… It’s not cause you’re ugly, it’s because you surf good and it intimidates them. It’s their problem not yours and in a few years you will fully realize what you kind of already know- that you don’t like boys at all! Lol.

Last but not least…. Cherish every moment you spend with Andy Irons… Even more than you already do.


I am pretty happy with all that’s been happening in my life since I was 16 and wouldn’t want myself to do things differently as sometimes you have to make mistakes to learn. Maybe I would tell myself to take more photos of my trips, I guess I should start doing that I never really take any photos.

Photo by Chris Grant/


If I could speak to my 16 year old self, the first thing I’d do is look deep into her eyes. I would gaze until we met at our timeless soul and then I would say softly to her: “Sh*t’s about to get real tough, lady. You are going to feel lost a whole lot and you are going to have to fall through everything you thought you were until you reach your source. Hunt your fears down deep into the night; stalk them until they turn to face you. Then embrace them. Your fears will lead you to who you have the capacity to be and with each fear that you transform through your embrace, you will grow stronger. Listen to music. Remember to breathe. And don’t forget that the ocean is where your home is. Visit home often.


Stay focused on what you want, don’t let boys distract you and change your course. Don’t let surfing become too much of a job, and wear sunscreen!

Credit: Poullenot


Growing up I was one of those kids that really looked up to people. I always had heroes and inspirations even when I was really young. My brother and I would go surfing and be like: “I’m Lisa [Andersen]” and he’d be like: “I’m Andy [Irons]” and we’d go into form.

When I was 16 I was still the same as now but I’ve also discovered a lot more about myself. I learnt so much through travel and competing and how exhausting it can be and how to maintain a balance. At times people think I’m not as serious a competitor as I should be because I’m happy and it’s like ok but it’s balance, and it’s the only way you’re going to succeed, everything in moderation, even focus in moderation. I’ve learnt that since I was 16 for sure.

Credit: Swilly


Have more self belief and surround yourself with the right people who can help in the goal of winning a World Title. Also surf the locations the tour is on before the contest starts, that would of helped a lot!


Stop more often to the smell the flowers, the fresh sea breeze, the feeling of raindrops on the palms of your hand and feet, the flow of the birds in the sky and all the natural beauty that is captured in the present moment.


At 16 I was quite courageous, more than I am now I think. But I would tell myself to apply myself a little better, and stop drinking!!!


Trust, always always trust yourself…


You are smart, talented, and beautiful. You are strong. You can do anything you decide to do. All it takes is belief in yourself. Trust yourself. Don’t listen to anyone who says you can’t. You will achieve your dreams. I promise!


Just be you.

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