#48 Layne Beachley

SURFER Celebrates the 50 Greatest Surfers of All Time

Ours, Australia, 2004. Photo: Bill Morris

Ours, Australia, 2004. Photo: Bill Morris

In a male-dominated sport, Lisa Anderson created the lifestyle and gave women's surfing femininity and style, but it was Layne who changed women's surfing on the competition front. Her presence in the media, her constant exposure on TV and in the news, made women's surfing professional--it made it legitimate.

The first time I surfed against her was in France, and I remember she was all bully talk, just trying to throw me off. I was young and new to that level of competition, and just so amped to try and beat her. It was pretty nerve-racking coming up against someone like that, knowing that they have surfed that many heats, and won that many heats. She's just such a good competitor--the best competitor women's surfing has ever known. She has seven World Titles to prove it.

But the thing about Layne is that she's got personality to go with it. She's quirky. She's always got a joke up her sleeve. And even after her World Tour career is over, she'll always be a presence. Here she is, 37 years old, with more titles than any other female surfer ever, and she's still out there, charging. Now you see photos of her on heavy waves, like those massive, 8-foot barrels she was surfing at Ours. Seeing that is just a reminder that while she may be retiring from the tour, she's far from done. She's not ending anything--she's just expanding her legacy in a different direction. --Chelsea Hedges

Previous #49 Taj Burrow | Next #47 Jock Sutherland