This letter originally appeared in our January Issue.
What an exciting year it was. Tyler Wright and I went back and forth in the ratings all year long, with the title finally coming down to the last day of the last event—whoever stayed alive the longest would get to dance in the champagne showers. I can’t believe that it’s all over and I am sitting here with a second world title in my back pocket.
For people who haven’t been paying attention, there are a few things they should know. The girls on Tour are extremely beautiful human beings—inside and out. But they also rip, and are great ambassadors for our sport. We are traveling the world, chasing our dreams, and doing something we love. There are so many negative influences out there transforming women into something they are not. We all represent an active, healthy lifestyle, and every one of us brings something unique: Courtney Conlogue is a great artist, Steph Gilmore loves to play music, Sally Fitzgibbons is a sports fanatic, Sage Erickson loves fashion, the list goes on. I think that there is an X-factor to each of the women on Tour that girls all over the world can relate to and be inspired by.
And I realize there is also the male audience. The women are sexy and fun to look at. Alana Blanchard has brought thousands of eyes to our sport by wearing her small bikini bottoms. I just want everyone to appreciate that she is an athlete as well and she takes what she does seriously. There is a fine line when it comes to sexualizing our sport. If it is overdone we lose respect, but there is a way that the girls can be marketed tastefully.
I’m not going to wear the small bikinis. That’s not me. I’m going to take the more athletic approach. I love surfing, so I want to inspire people through my surfing. I’ll admit, two years ago, I did a sexy photo shoot with a magazine (though I made sure I wore more clothes than a lot of girls who’d done similar shoots in the past). I looked at the pictures and they were beautiful—probably some of the most beautiful pictures I’ve ever seen of myself. But I looked at them and thought, “Young girls look up to me right now because I don’t do that stuff.” I wear clothes. I’m sexy because I leave stuff to the imagination, and I let my surfing do the talking. I ended up pulling the plug on it. The photos never ran. It just wasn’t me. But that’s not to say that Alana or some of the other girls’ approach is bad—in fact, I think it’s great that we all appeal to a different audience. That’s great for our sport.
More than anything, I want to leave behind a Tour that is thriving for the next generation. My rookie year in 2010 was the last time we had a Triple Crown. It was the last time women had an event in Hawaii. The past three years our Tour has ended in beachbreaks in either Europe or California. I would love to see our season finish in Hawaii in big, powerful, challenging waves. I believe that a World Champion should be well rounded. The best surfer should be able to perform in small waves, big waves, barreling waves, high-performance waves, beachbreaks, and reef breaks. Right now most of our Tour is held in small beachbreaks. This year it was great to see the women paddle out in 6- to 8-foot Margaret River, and at Bells Beach we got quality waves and were really given a chance to perform. In every heat the girls were pulling big moves and posting huge scores, and everyone was buzzing about how well we were surfing. There was talk that FUEL TV had one of their highest TV ratings the day that we surfed. Who doesn’t want to watch beautiful women rip apart perfect waves? I think there’s definitely a demand, and I hope in the future we’re provided more waves that really showcase our surfing. I am excited by the addition of a Women’s Tour stop at Lower Trestles, and there’s talk of adding one or two other quality breaks as well. Hopefully through the changes being made to the Tour we’ll be able to share surfing with a broader audience. I am crossing my fingers that next year’s Tour will deliver great waves, because I know the girls will rise to the occasion.
2X ASP Women’s World Champion