Carissa Moore, 14, became the youngest to advance to the final of an Association of Surfing Professionals event when she became a finalist in the Roxy Pro in Australia.
Moore makes potential pay off
In the world of 14-year-old surfing sensation Carissa Moore, there's a lot of fun to go around.
To her, getting up at the crack of dawn to study wave breaks is fun. It's also a good time to go surfing with her parents and three younger sisters at Kewalo Basin. And it most certainly is a blast to be the youngest-ever finalist -- of men or women -- in an Association of Surfing Professionals event, as she was Monday in the Roxy Pro Gold Coast in Australia.
Now that she's finished setting the board high as a Punahou freshman (and currently No. 2-ranked women's surfer in the world) Moore, and her parents, are back home on Oahu to soak things up.
She fell to 23-year-old Australian Chelsea Hedges, 11.33 to 6.60, in the final at Snapper Rocks, Coolangatta, after ousting, in order, seven-time world champion Layne Beachley (15.66 to 9.34), Hawaii's Megan Abubo (16.50 to 7.64) and Australia's Rebecca Woods (15.43 to 10.50) to get there.
"I just was so excited and I was just looking forward to going out there with such a great surfer (like) Chelsea, one of the best surfers in the world, and it was just such an honor to be out there with her," Moore said. "I think (the trip to Australia) was successful because I had a good time. It was really beautiful, and I had so much fun hanging with my family and surfing."
Most of the time, her family is there to enjoy the experience right along with her. When Carissa and her three younger sisters, Cayla (9), Kelly (9) and Kailee (6) aren't out on their boards at Kewalo Basin with their parents after school or on weekends, they're plopped down together watching "Hannah Montana" on the Disney Channel, "Lost" or "Grey's Anatomy" on TV. Meanwhile, her father Chris and stepmom Katie travel with Carissa to her worldwide pro events.
It was the first ASP women's event of the year, and Moore's ranking isn't expected to last because she'll be in a classroom while her opponents tear up waves around the world. Though, to the gregarious Moore, competing in schoolwork might qualify as a brand of fun, too.
"If my friends get A's and I get B's, I'm like, 'Aw shucks,' " she said, smiling.
That's just part of her competitive nature, according to Katie.
"She's very motivated. She very much likes school and cares tremendously how she does," she said. "She's very independent, so we're blessed with that."
Chris taught Carissa to surf at a very young age, and followed suit with his next three daughters. But his eldest child's work ethic is one of a kind.
"She might use the words 'fun' and 'having a good time' but there's also (the fact) that she'll wake up at the crack of dawn, go out and study the break and practice, but that's 'fun' for her as well," Chris explained.
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Carissa Moore held a press conference at Magic Island after returning home from her second-place finish in the Roxy Pro surfing contest in Australia.
He's helped her grow as a future professional athlete by imparting his own experience as a former competitive swimmer at Punahou and the University of Hawaii.
"She knows what she needs to do to be successful in the competitive arena," he said, adding Carissa's strength lies in her fundamentals in turning the board "(even) in the most basic sense, exceptionally.'"
He estimated the Roxy Pro was the 12th pro event she's participated in since starting her first at age 11, with three in Australia, two on the U.S. mainland and the rest in Hawaii. But to focus on schoolwork this year, she'll limit herself to a handful of local amateur events before doing the Roxy Pro at Sunset Beach later in the season.
In the meantime, there are her family's surfing sessions to look forward to. That's when Carissa helps out her siblings with pointers.
"It's fun to support them," she said before draping some of the leis she got from friends of the family on the littlest, Kailee. "Out in the water, it's fun to surf with them. We've been doing it for a while. Just going to the beach on the weekends. It's really cool."
What does all the attention feel like from the other girls' point of view?
"I think it's a good experience," said Kelly. "If you work hard for things, you get good. I'm just happy for her."
Meanwhile, Kailee just nodded.
In her final against Hedges, Carissa had trouble picking out the right waves, but told herself to stay positive and wouldn't let it discourage her in future events.
Besides that resiliency, Chris ticked items off his fingers he believed a professional surfer should possess.
"There's a lot of studying involved, there's a little bit of luck, and then there's technique and drive and being able to handle (things) under pressure."
As the youngest person to ever make it to an ASP final proved, it doesn't hurt to have a little fun, too.