The first time I saw Carissa Moore surf, she couldn’t have been older than eight — and she was already ripping.
She would paddle out to Queen’s with her dad, Chris, and surf the inside reform section. She was bubbly and sweet and respectful, even though she was already landing airs and 360s and making the rest of us lifelong surfers look like hacks.
Now Moore is 21 and the best female surfer in the world, winning her second 2013 Association of Surfing Professionals Women’s World Title this October in Portugal.
And I’m still riding a 9-foot longboard in three-foot surf.
Anyway, I got a chance to catch up with the world champ (and her puppy, Tuffy) now that she’s back in town — and surfing Kewalo’s — for a story for an upcoming issue of HAWAI’I Magazine. And it was nice to see the fame and the glory hasn’t changed her. She’s still that sweet, smiley girl I remember. Just a bit taller.
1. You just turned 21. What did you do for your birthday?
My family totally surprised me. I was planning to spend the day with my dad. But then he drove down to the Sheraton (Waikiki) and my mom and sister came out. I wanted to tear up. We all haven’t been together since I was 10. (Her parents got divorced then.) We went on a canoe ride in Waikiki. It was just very special.
2. I know you started surfing when you were super young. When did you start to really love it?
I always had to be nudged, to be honest. I don’t think I started setting my alarm (to surf) until I was 17. In the early days, I would throw fits about going to the beach. I didn’t like the act of going there, but once I was there, I loved it. I actually loved just spending time with my family.
3. Surf’s up on the North Shore. You like surfing big waves?
I love Haleiwa. On a good northwest swell and it’s six feet, it’s so much fun. But there are definitely times, like when it’s 8- to 10-feet, I’m, like, no thanks. I’ll just cruise on the beach. But I know sometimes I have to challenge myself. You really have to want that and enjoy that to do it. You have to love the adrenaline.
4. If you weren’t surfing, what would you be doing?
If I wasn’t surfing, I’d probably be in school studying to be a teacher. I wanted to be a school teacher forever.
5. What are your favorite places to eat while you’re back at home?
I love the spicy chicken from Gina’s BBQ and Hale Vietnam in Kaimuki is so good. Oh, and we love Koa Pancake House. I order the ham and eggs and I eat my boyfriend’s pancakes. I think every girlfriend does that!