EIGHTEEN YEARS LATER: An Interview With Tour Veteran, Layne Beachley

With eighteen years of tour experience under her belt, Layne Beachley has been on WCT longer than any other surfer—male or female. And with 29 WCT wins since 1993, and seven world championships, the title of "Veteran" is one that is endowed only with the utmost respect. "Layne is an idol to a lot of us. She's won seven world titles, and she's got those titles for a reason," says Sofia Mulanovich of fellow tour-competitor Layne Beachley. "She's a great competitor and she has a lot of qualities that I look up to. She's great—really professional and she rips." Layne's recent equal-third finish at the Billabong Pro Rio strengthens her third-place position in the ratings, and with four events remaining on the tour, she has ample opportunity to make her way toward an eighth title. We caught up with Layne en route back to Australia to get the scoop on the Brazil event, as well as her insights on the two women currently standing in the way of the title.

Tell me about Brazil.

Brazil was fun. Wet, hot, cold, sunny, we really experienced it all. It was looking like the event would be completed in the first couple of days until we got hammered by wind, rain, and swell. That gave us five days off to sightsee the Christ statue, shop, and catch up on work or much needed sleep. Lay days are a special treat for me because I feel like I'm on holidays! We had one day where the call was made at 10 o'clock, then another at 11, another at 1, then 2. We then spent 45 minutes deliberating by which time the head judge and contest director decided to make the decision for us and start the Quarterfinals. Fortunately, Mother Nature disagreed with them and sided with us. Literally 10 minutes later a wind and rain squall blew through and we had to cancel the event again until 6:30 a.m. the next day.

But the waves finally cleaned up the final day, right?

The Chinese fire drill paid off though because the next day we had glassy conditions, amazing waves, and incredible surfing. Steph scored a 10 and still lost to a blistering Mel Bartels who went on to dominate the event and win it.

Aside from the tour, what else do you have going on?

The Manly event [Stop No. 5] is coming up in a few weeks and I'm still in discussions and negotiations with possible sponsors. It's crazy! But I know I will get there. My time out of the water is spent dealing with my event, my charity, my brand, and my book. My biography, Beneath the Waves, comes out in Australia at the end of the month so there is no rest for the wicked.

You, Steph, and Sofia have a pretty tight race going for the World Championship. Tell me a bit about Steph and Sofia's surfing.

Steph is the current World Champ and bar-raiser for all of us. The smiling assassin! Steph is an amazing surfer, a fantastic role model, and an ambassador for the sport. She is my favorite female surfer. And Sofia, the previous World Champ and gunning for another one this year, is focused and super-competitive—with a heart of gold. A national hero in Peru, her ability has inspired the hopes and dreams of a nation!