Carissa Moore retires
Carissa Moore in the NY Times.

Olympic Gold Medallist Carissa Moore explains shock retirement

"More than results, I want to be remembered for the performances that evoke emotion and that leave a mark."

Six years ago, I sat in a rented campervan parked in the driveway of a Ventura, California beach house.

Across the table sat Carissa Moore, then a three-time world champion. I was there to interview her for what became a cover story at Red Bull’s print magazine.

Late in the interview, I asked the kind of routine question that sometimes leads somewhere interesting, but just as often does not. “Where would you like to be in five years?” I asked.

Twenty-five at the time, Carissa Moore wasn’t sure what her life might look like five years in the future.

“I’ll be 30 then,” she said. “I would definitely like to be still surfing.”

She’d recently started her Moore Aloha non-profit for girls and imagined starting a family. “Maybe I’d take a year off and come back on Tour as a mom. It would be pretty cool if that’s even possible.”

Now 31, Carissa Moore is definitely still surfing. But what surfing looks like to her and how it fits into the broader patterns of her life is now set to change dramatically.

Early this morning in a wide-ranging interview published at the New York Times, Carissa Moore confirmed that she will end her competitive surfing career this summer.

The five-time world champion and Olympic gold medalist plans to surf the upcoming Lexus Pipe Pro and the 2024 Olympic Games. Then she will turn to new pursuits and to a life no longer counted out in 30-minute heats and measured in judges’ scores.

“All those wins, the competitive part that’s so much of my identity, I’m taking that away, and I’m facing myself this year,” Carissa told the New York Times. “And that’s scary. Like, who am I?”

 

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Born in Honolulu, Carissa learned to surf at Queens in the shadow of Diamondhead at the age of 5.

Each day, she walked past the statue of Olympic swimming champion Duke Kahanamoku on her way to surf.

When Carissa Moore was 10, her parents divorced and she divided her time between her two parents, only surfing with her dad Chris Moore.

Together Carissa and Chris, a ocean swimmer and body surfer built her career, which at times made for a fraught relationship between them.

By age 12, Carissa Moore had committed to surfing as a career and a singular ambition.

From the start, Carissa’s talent stood out. She brought a speed and progressive approach to her surfing that prompted comparisons to Kelly Slater and Dane Reynolds. Together with surfers like Malia Manuel, Coco Ho, and Lakey Peterson, Carissa brought a new approach to women’s surfing. “It went from a lot of you know, cutbacks and things like that, to blowing the tail,” says Jason Kenworthy, who directed the film, Leave A Message. “That was pretty instant.” Early clips of a teenaged Carissa show carving 360’s and tight, vertical turns.

Her competitive career took off with dizzying speed. While still in high school, Carissa qualified for the Championship Tour, and in her first year on Tour at age 17, she won two CT events and finished third overall. The following year in 2011, she won her first world title.

Behind the scenes, the stresses of her personal life and the weight of her own expectations led Carissa Moore to struggle with eating disorders. The culture of surfing at the time didn’t help with its emphasis on bikini babes and butt shots. It took time for Carissa to feel comfortable in her own skin and to find herself amidst the pressures of her fast-moving professional career.

Despite her inner turmoil, Carissa continued to push herself and her sport. Between 2011 and 2015, Carissa and Stephanie Gilmore traded world titles in a smiling, yet fierce rivalry. At times, they seemed to pull women’s surfing in opposite directions with Steph’s smooth grace standing in contrast with Carissa’s intensity, strength, and progression. Steph will now retain the upper hand in the world title count, but that was never the goal for Carissa. “I didn’t go into it thinking I wanted to win ten world titles,” Carissa told me back in 2018.

A four year gap between world titles tested Carissa’s determination.

She considered quitting competition, but believed she had more to give. In the meantime, her marriage to Luke Untermann in December 2017 brought a new stability to her life and with it a greater resilience. Even the most successful contest surfers lose more heats than they win. For a surfer as demanding of herself as Carissa, those losses have often hit hard. It’s taken much of her career to learn how to ride that rollercoaster while retaining her equilibrium.

“I have unconditional love,” she told me in 2022. “I’m going to go out there and I’m going to surf my hardest. I’m going to surf my heart out. And then I’m going to let it go. I just want to know that I put it all out there. That’s all I can ask of myself. And if I do that, I’ll be okay, regardless.”

As Carissa won two more world titles in 2019 and 2021, she continued to evolve her surfing. At Newcastle in 2021, she landed one of her first significant airs in competition. “That was a big one for me,” she said. “It’s definitely something I’ve been trying to work towards my whole career and I’ve done like little airs and stuff — but that one actually felt like it was a legit one.” When the World Surf League added Pipeline and Teahupo’o to the women’s schedule, Carissa pushed past her fears and put her full attention on her backside barrel surfing. Carissa has never been content to stand still.

“She’s always learning and evolving,” said Duncan Scott, who has coached Carissa over the years at J-Bay. “What’s incredible is that Carissa has five world titles and when you watch her surfing, it’s still evolving and you’re like, ‘shit, she’s still just getting started.’”

The highpoint of Carissa’s career came in 2021 when she won Olympic Gold and the world title in the same year. Ahead of the Olympics, she wondered how it could be bigger than winning a world title. “It definitely felt bigger because of the prestige of the Olympics and the Games,” she said. “It really does stand for something more than sport.” The experience also brought Carissa more in touch with her Hawaiian roots and affter winning Gold, she returned to Queens and hung her leis on the statue of Kahanamoku.

In the short run, Carissa still has three big contests ahead of her. She’ll compete at home in Hawai’i at Pipeline, where she won in small waves in 2023. Carissa has chipped away at Pipe, slowing building her skills. She’s taking off deeper and in bigger waves now and has, improved her body position in the barrel. Certainly, she’d love to go out with a win in good waves at Pipe in front of her friends and family.

Then it’s on to the fearsome Teahupo’o for the Olympic Games. In Tahiti, she’ll face strong competition from local girl Vahine Fierro. Few athletes get to choose their endings, but a second Olympic medal would be a beautiful end to Carissa’s competitive career.

To look only at her results is to sell Carissa short.

More than many athletes, she’s set out self-consciously and intentionally to serve as a role model to younger girls. Her Moore Aloha non-profit has grown to include clinics, essay contests, and international exchanges. During her early career, she did a photo session for the ESPN Body Issue, but later asked that the photos not be published. It wasn’t that she didn’t like them. In fact, she’s said that she felt beautiful in the images. It simply wasn’t the example she wanted to set.

“I know the kinds of values that I want to share with the next generation and I know the kinds of feelings that I want to leave with people,” she said. “And I’m always going to stay true to that.”

How Carissa Moore pieces together her life after competition remains an open question.

BeachGrit has confirmed that Carissa has a full-length film project in the works.

It’ll be a joy to see how her surfing unfolds outside the constraints of heats and judging criteria. There’s a whole world of waves out there for her to explore and to surf in her own way, purely as a form of self-expression. It will be exciting to see what that looks like. And, there’s that prediction she made six years ago about starting a family. Now at last, she’ll have the time for the rest of her life.

One thing’s for sure: Carissa Moore’s legacy in surfing is secure.

She readily stands among the best ever to do it and has shoved the boundaries of women’s surfing outward. And, along the way, she’s pushed herself, too. Somehow, Carissa has remained a uniquely human champion, which makes the whole thing all the more inspiring. She’s set a high bar for herself, and I’m not sure she’ll ever stop reaching higher, whatever she chooses to do with her next chapter.

“I think more than results, I want to be remembered for the performances that evoke emotion and that leave a mark,” she said. “I want someone to look back and be like, ‘Carissa was one of the women to push the level, to get above the lip, and to do things that were more creative. And, she surfed with this flair and this pizazz and with this style that is timeless.’”


Carissa Moore (pictured) forever on top.
Carissa Moore (pictured) forever on top.

Greatest ever surfer Carissa Moore officially retires on eve of World Surf League 2024 season kick-off

"My favorite rides, the greatest thrills have come when I've paddled over the ledge even though my heart or my head is telling me not to..."

The planet is waking up to a different reality, this morning. A little grayer, maybe. Or maybe not. Maybe things are exactly as they should be, surfing jerked back on a true and righteous path.

Carissa Moore, the universally adored Hawaiian surfer, the greatest to ever do it, is officially retiring from the World Surf League at the still tender age of 31.

The five/six-time champion and Olympic gold medalist opened up in a wide-ranging feature with The New York Times, a moving piece in which she shares her fear in facing this next, non-competitive, phase in her life, but also the crackle of doing something new. What life looks like “outside of the jersey.”

“My favorite rides, the greatest thrills have come when I’ve paddled over the ledge even though my heart or my head is telling me not to, you know?” she gamely declared. “The anxiety comes from ‘am I going to show up?’ I just want to be proud of myself. I want, at the end of the day, to be like, ‘Ok, I did my best. And I rose to the occasion,’ you know?”

The “global home of surfing” is certainly the loser, here, and it could/should be argued that ugly decision making, creating a fraudulent finals day, etc. kicked Moore into retirement early. The fact that she is stepping away, now, a clear mark against World Surf League dumb.

Moore is slated to surf the Pro Pipe, the Tahiti event and the Teahupo’o Olympics. What she will do next, though, exciting to imagine. Something untainted by the big ugly.

Bryan Taylor, the star’s longtime manager, told me, “As Carissa’s manager for the past 17 years, I can’t begin to express just how proud I am of this little scrapbooker from Hawaii. As the only surfer in the world to have attained multiple World Titles plus an Olympic Gold Medal, there isn’t a surfer alive who can lay claim to this unparalleled level of achievement. Thanks in part to the incredible grace, class and style that’s woven throughout the family that raised her, Carissa possesses both the poise and confidence required to venture away from the tour at the top of her game, complete with a full tank of gas. By taking the brave and unselfish step of deciding not to stay at the party too long, Carissa refreshingly demonstrates just how much honor and respect she exhibits for her sport. Each and every one of us involved with professional surfing shall forever owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Carissa for all that she’s brought into our world, and I personally can’t wait to see what lies ahead as her unrivaled journey continues.”

And it could not have been said better.

Here’s to what’s next.

More as the story develops.


World surfing champ Joel Tudor blames bulldozing of Moroccan fishing village Tifnit on surf camps and yoga retreats

“Y’all just namaste’d this place into rubble!”

The three-time world surfing champion Joel “Tinkerbell” Tudor has blamed the bulldozing of Moroccan fishing village Tifnit on surf camps, yoga retreats and online magazines. 

In a missive posted on Instagram earlier today Tudor wrote, 

“All you kooks with your yoga retreats, surf camps and online magazines that have blown this place (Tifnit) up since blowvid… I hope you’re happy now… y’all just namaste’d this place into rubble soon to be high-end rentals.” 

Joel Tudor on the destruction of Tifnit, Morocco
“Y’all just namaste’d that place into rubble,” says Joel Tudor.

And, 

“Social media is a disease. And now they’re all signing petitions and sharing on social media. Been there ten years ago, since then everyone absolutely social media raped that place down. Now they’re very surprised that the government solid it to the big trust funds and hotel chains… bunch of famous longboarders, too, with their retreats making thousands without partnering with any locals. Shame.” 

Joel Tudor on the destruction of Tifnit, morocco
“Everyone social media raped that place (Tifnit),” says Joel Tudor.

A little background on the killing of Tifnit from a story by Jean-Luc Vautravers.

On the 6th, the director of equipment for the province of Chtouka Aït Baha, Mohamed Zouhair, disseminates information, demanding the restoration of illegally built homes to their original condition, within five days. Stupor, collapse and incomprehension of the approximately 200 more or less regular inhabitants of the village, mainly fishermen, some of whose families have lived there for generations. The heart tight, some flee Tifnit with their meager possessions. Defenders of the village, mainly foreigners, launched a petition and organized a demonstration. Calls to the authorities go unheeded. On the 25th, no voluntary demolition having taken place, the mechanical excavators came into action and destroyed everything, but really everything, in their path (see above video  Michel Terrier). On December 28, they covered the rubble accumulated by the traxes with earth. Tifnit has completely disappeared. Nothing remains of the small town described as the only one of its kind to have survived in Morocco. 

Also, real dirty, suss restaurants, shit everywhere.

Anyway, have a squiz here, see if you care.

Joel Tudor is a well-known star of blood feuds, including a ten-year battle with Kelly Slater over the correct use of jiutjisu belts.

You’ll remember his role as the protagonist in these classics,

Blood Feud: Joel Tudor and Noa Deane in creative battle royale! Blood Feud: Joel Tudor vs The World, and Blood Feud: Kelly Slater vs Kelly Slater (part one), Blood Feud: Joel Tudor vs Kelly Slater, part two and Blood feud; Joel Tudor squares off with shaping icon Richard Kenvin.


World Surf League co-interim CEOs kick PR intern in seat of pants, force them to release “Welcome to 2024 Championship Tour” presser days ahead of launch!

It's baaaaack.

The World Surf League is alive! Surf fans, everywhere, have spent the last two months nervously biting their fingernails whilst vigorously refreshing email inboxes, wondering when the “global home of surfing” would release something, anything, about the 2024 Championship Tour season. Alas, those tentacles were chewed down to nubs with inboxes remaining empty.

Was professional surfing going to fold like its sister professional bodyboarding?

But no!

Minutes ago, and hours ahead of the Lexus Pro Pipe, the “Welcome to the 2024 WSL Championship Tour” was unleashed. Twin WSL co-interim CEOs clearly deciding to march past the Parvo room in order to kick the PR intern in they/them’s pants and release the following.

The Banzai Pipeline, located on the North Shore of Oahu, is one of the most powerful and challenging waves in the world. Widely known as surfing’s proving ground, surfers have been making the journey here every season to test their skills at the world-renowned break. The wave itself is a hollow, fast, barrel that breaks over a treacherous reef.

Over the past two seasons, the women have showcased their talents at Pipeline and raised the bar for what is possible, inspiring a new generation of surfers. Defending event winner and five-time World Champion Carissa Moore (HAW) put on a brilliant display of barrel riding last season, making her the one to beat. But, she will face a stacked field including a new rookie class hoping to make a name for themselves.

The competition will also see three event wildcards joining the world’s best surfers: 2022 Pipe Pro winner Moana Jones Wong (HAW), 2023 SAMBAZON World Junior Championships runner-up Jackson Bunch (HAW), and 2023/2024 Hawaii/Tahiti Regional Qualifying Series winner Shion Crawford (HAW).

Rejoice and savor this, let’s be honest, final World Surf League offering before the reins are handed to Abu Dhabi and the show is rebranded Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer.

Here’s to the Cosmos stop.


Billy Kemper (pictured) glowing.
Billy Kemper (pictured) glowing.

World’s most beloved surfer Billy Kemper wins Da Hui Backdoor Shootout!

"The weight of winning the Shootout is so much heavier than a WSL event or any other contest.”

It is impossible not to adore Maui’s Billy Kemper. The big wave, small wave and everything in between charger has inspired surf fans for years. But who, here, was not moved by the eponymous six-part series Billy that tracked the star as he recovered from a life-threatening injury and returned to the very heights of surfing power.

Essential, to quote the great Derek Rielly. And pivoting to modern times, just yesterday, or maybe the day before, Kemper won the prestigious Da Hui Backdoor Shootout as part of Team Peru. The waves for the final day were not what would be considered “good,” though they certainly highlighted our hero’s ability to shine in any and all conditions.

“Some of these events in surfing never really register as surf contests,” Kemper declared at the end. “To me, only two events in the entire world hold that power: The Shootout and The Eddie. They’re more like celebrations of surfing, culture and community rather than rankings, ratings or competition. At the end of the day, the weight of winning the Shootout is so much heavier than a WSL event or any other contest.”

Powerful.

And, please, discuss what the win means for you as you navigate various ups and downs in your own life.