19-year-old Maui native Monyca Byrne-Wickey has been turning heads lately. And not in places she's accustomed to doing so...like in Downtown Los Angeles above the STAPLES Center. Her new Gatorade billboard, one that places her directly adjacent to tennis powerhouse Serena Williams, is unapologetically responsible for more than a few fender benders on the congested streets of L.A. But for Byrne-Wickey, things couldn't be better. We caught up with the Hana local to get the latest.
Tell me a little bit about your new billboard with Serena Williams. That seems like a pretty big deal.
I think it just got put up a couple of months ago. It was just this Gatorade campaign that they wanted a surfer for and I was lucky enough to be put in that position and it's really exciting to see it. It's pretty big when you drive by right in front of the Staples Center.
You made an appearance onstage at SURFER Poll this year. What were some of your highlight moments from the night?
The whole thing was pretty exciting, but the highlight moment was definitely being up on stage. It was so nerve-racking, and Alana [Blanchard] and I weren't sure what we were going to say, but it turned out pretty well.
You've been the Masthead Girl in two separate issues of SURFER Magazine. How do you feel about that?
I think it's pretty funny. I mean, obviously, it's pretty cool to get a picture in the magazine...but it's funny. I don't know what to say. It's a picture of my butt...It's cool, though. I'm not weird about it at all, but hopefully I can get a surfing picture in there too one day - next to my butt.
Tell me about that last trip, though, from the Masthead Girl photos. From what I understand, there were some amazing waves.
We got a lot done on that trip. The waves and weather were amazing and we had a lot of time to do lifestyle stuff to so there was plenty to do.
So are you sponsored by Gatorade now?
No. It's sort of a random thing. They haven't put together a surf team together yet. I think they might be starting one in 2010. I'm not sure when they're starting, but I think they're running the ads of surfing so people can be geared up to know that they are going to have a surf team.
Tell us something about you that no one knows.
I'm a seamstress, and I sew all of my own bathing suits. And I have seven donkeys.
Wow. So do you live on a farm?
No. We just have donkeys. We've got a lot of land, and a lot of donkeys.
What are some of your goals for the upcoming year?
For the upcoming year, I just want to work on my surfing and work on different aspects of surfing. I want to try riding different kinds of boards and have as much fun as I can with it. I want to start longboarding and single-finning and twin-finning and just try it all out, because I've been watching some stuff lately that's gotten me really interested and I just want to be more well-rounded in the water.
It seems like most movies coming out now have some type of obligatory alaia/twin fin/longboard segment getting people excited about alternative means of wave-riding.
It's cool. It's just something different. I'm all for just shortboarding and all that, but there are so many people who do that I think this could sort of set me apart from the rest being that I'm not super-competitive, aggressive contest surfer. I'm more just of a freestyle surfer so I think it's better for me to try out other stuff.
So you're not interested in the Pro Tour?
No. I just don't think it's for me. I'm not an aggressive person. I've been doing it my whole life, and I can surf a contest. I know how to surf a contest; I just don't have a love for that. I love the trips and mixing it up.
If you can do it as a freesurfer, then, why not? So what do you have planned on the horizon?
More trips. Maybe somewhere in Peru, maybe somewhere freezing in Europe...maybe my hometown in Hana, hopefully. That's my number one destination, so we'll see where it takes us.