Depending on which language you’re speaking, the name “Carissa” can mean “beloved,” “grace,” or “kind.” But if you’re speaking the language of surfing, those three syllables are just as likely to signify “phenom,” “up-and-comer,” and “look out – here comes a future world title contender.”
Hawaii’s Carissa Moore has been hailed as one of surfing’s most exciting competitors since she was a grom. Before she had even started her sophomore year in high school, she won 11 National Scholastic Surfing Association Championships and became the youngest female ever to grace the cover of SURFER magazine, as well as the youngest-ever Vans Triple Crown of Surfing event champion. As an ASP Tour rookie in 2010, she was on fire, taking on hard-charging vets to win multiple events. This new pro may turn out to be one of the best ever.
Born and raised on the south shore of Oahu, Carissa was surfing with her dad Chris even before she started kindergarten. He’s still her coach and mentor. “My dad has been there since the beginning, and I think he really pushes me to be a better surfer,” she says. “He keeps me honest and motivates me to do my best.”
By age 8, Carissa was regarded as a verifiable phenom, and by 10 she was the odds-on favorite in just about any amateur event she entered. The media continually marveled at her skills: “an arsenal of aerial maneuvers unmatched by any surfer her age, ever,” and “arguably the purest talent surfing [not just women’s surfing, mind you, but surfing] has seen.” Carissa possessed not only “the grace of a natural athlete,” but true artistry.
Carissa’s first Vans win came in 2008, when the then-16-year-old upset seven-time world champion Layne Beachley to take the Reef Hawaiian Pro title. The first ASP event win of her rookie season came in New Zealand in the spring of 2010. Standing atop the podium for the TSB Bank Women’s Surf Festival, Carissa announced that she was donating her entire $15,000 in winnings to the area’s Waitara Bar Boardriders Club, a volunteer organization that provides a safe destination – and ocean education – for local kids.
By August, the rookie had scored another impressive win at the ASP 6-Star Women’s U.S. Open of Surfing, earning $50,000, the richest first-place prize purse in women’s surfing history. And two months later she notched an ASP win at the Rip Curl Pro in Portugal. Her goal of someday earning the overall Tour championship seems very much within reach.