Interview with Sofia Mulanovich – 2004 Women’s World Champ

Peru’s first-ever world surfing champ talks with SURFING about women’s surfing, her first world title and why every day is her birthday.

In a classic display of “girl-power” shenanigans, Kealla Kennelley has stolen the microphone from {{{Vans}}} Triple Crown Director, Randy Rarick. If she hadn’t just surfed a mean semi-final heat at Haleiwa Beach Park, you’d think she was drunk, the way she’s groping and mauling the mic. It’s December, 2004, the second-to-last event of the women’s ASP tour, and Peruvian surfer, Sofia Mulanovich has just clinched her first women’s world title. And Roxy just doubled the prize money for all competitors. Champagne corks are popping. Flags are waving. People are cheering. And Kealla, drunk on her own inside-jokery, roars into the microphone: “Hey everybody, today is Sofia’s 21st birthday.”Wow, what a coincidence: winning the world title on your birthday. The swarm of finals-day reporters start scribbling notes on their mini-pads. “This’ll make a great story,” they’re thinking. But they obviously haven’t been around this close-knit group of women’s pro surfers long enough to know that nothing is ever quite as it seems.

SURFING MAGAZINE: Happy 21st birthday, Sofia.

SOFIA MULANOVICH: Oh, yeah, right, that was a good one. Kealla was just joking around.

SURFING MAGAZINE: Yeah, we know, but a lot of journalists didn’t get it. Where did all that come from?

SOFIA: My birthday was in June, and we were on a boat trip with Rochelle, Kealla and everyone. So we celebrated my birthday all week and every night we had, like, karaoke on the boat and Kealla would be, like, “It’s Sofia’s 21st birthday!” every single night.

SURFING MAGAZINE: So now it’s always your birthday.

SOFIA: Yeah. [laughs] Something like that.

SURFING MAGAZINE: You’ve been at this for a while, right? How old were you when Roxy first sponsored you?

SOFIA: Sixteen. I started surfing when I was 9. My dad, my mom, and my friends all surfed, and I lived in front of a pretty good wave in Lima, so… I started competing when I was 12 or 13. There were only, like, two girls, so I’d always get first or second. I would have to compete with the boys more, which was good for me, you know?

SURFING MAGAZINE: Sure. How did you get picked up by Roxy?

SOFIA: It was just out of the blue. One day they just called me and they were like, hey, we heard about you and we really wanna sponsor you and, like, you know, pay for tour and all that. And I’m like, what’s going on? That was one of the best days of my life. It was a dream for me, but I never thought that it would really happen.


SOFIA: Then I started traveling. I still had school, so I couldn’t do the whole ‘QS, but I would do the US Open and a few other competitions.

SURFING MAGAZINE: When did you qualify for the ‘CT?

SOFIA: I qualified in 2002.

SURFING MAGAZINE: So this is only your second year on the ‘CT tour?

SOFIA: Yeah.

SURFING MAGAZINE: And how long have you known all these other Roxy girls?

SOFIA: I came to Hawaii when I was 14, and I met Megan and Rochelle, so I’ve known them for a while. I met Chelsea when I was 16 and we became really good friends. So, since I’ve been pretty young.