We chat to the Hawaiian surfer about Maya vs Laird, that twerking video and why guys can’t get enough of surfer girls
What were you like as a kid?
I was a complete tomboy! I didn’t wear girls’ clothes really until I was 13, I was just a full on surf grom.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in between San Clemente and Hawaii, I lived in Hawaii (North shore of Oahu from when I was 5-14 , but always was in San Clemente in the summer, before moving back when I was 14, so both feel like my home).
When did you start surfing and how did it make you feel?
I started surfing at age six, I was in the water always at a early age, I was naturally just drawn to it. I loved surfing instantly and fell in love with it right away, it was one of the sports that I was good at right away, it just stuck.
When did you start competing and first get sponsored?
I first started competing when I was 6 years old, shortly after I started surfing, I got sponsored shortly after at age 7.
Tell us about that now notorious twerking video from your point of view?
At first it was a trip, however I’ve been in the limelight for a while, as I’ve been on TV and in many different magazines outside of the surf industry for a while. It kind of hurt when there was some negative feedback on it.
I feel like everything I do lately has just been super magnified, the world we live in with social media and with being an professional athlete, it goes with the territory, but I definitely don’t want to be known entirely from a viral video, I’ve worked hard my whole career to be where I’m at.
Why were you doing such a sexy dance warm up or did you not see it as that?
Definitely when I’m on the beach at 7am with no make up on, I don’t think I look sexy at all. Music and getting into the zone has been always part of my repertoire for years.
Does it annoy you when people focus on your looks and body rather than your surfing or do you accept it as a modern way for a girl to earn a living?
I mean yes and no, as I think it’s great to be celebrated on having good looks, I’d like more focus to be on the things I’ve accomplished.
I read that you’d like to do more big wave surfing, did you see Maya Gabeira’s wipeout at Nazare and if so what did you think?
Yeah, I’ve been putting in my time the last few years. Maya’s been always a huge inspiration to me and to see her wipeout was a definite reality check on being out in those size waves. That the risks are real, and how on point you have to be and prepared to be in those situations. She is one of the most experienced people out in the water. I felt very emotional seeing the video, it’s definitely scary.
And what did you think about Laird Hamilton’s comments?
I don’t agree with Laird, as I know Maya trains super hard and deserves to be out there with everyone else, male or female. I think this could of happened to a male surfer and there wouldn’t of been any fuss, but because she’s a girl, it’s different. What she did was crazy getting that wave, so I think it’s a bummer people are trying to take that away from her.
What would you say to people who criticise you for posting pictures of your bum, for example with the Kim Kardishan instagram thing?
I don’t really care, I’m just living life and having fun. I do my job mostly in my bathing suit so to me it’s not weird.
What’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to you on the internet?
Probably that I’ve inspired them to try sports or focus on a dream of theirs’.
And the meanest?
I find the meanest things are things written about my talent, my appearance I don’t really care if people rip into, but my talent and things I work for definitely hurts sometimes.
Why do guys have a fascination with surfer girls?
I think guys have a fascination with surfer girls because they are hot, fearless and strong females. I think it’s much more than a girl in a bikini, because any girl can wear bikinis.
Who are your heroes?
I would say I look up to Kelly Slater a bunch because he’s never slipped on his game, and is still the best surfer in the world at his age.
What advice would you give your 16 year old self?
I would say to have more fun and not be so harsh on myself.
Where is your favourite place to surf and why?
I love being in Hawaii, just because that 7 mile stretch is like no other, the best waves all in one zone.
Are there any other big issues in women’s surfing you’d like to chat about?
I would say it would be great if the major surf brands instead of models used all their surfers in campaigns, there are so many beautiful girls now, it seems silly if they are using models instead.