A love letter to surfing
The most important lesson surfing has taught me is to commit, paddle hard, let go of the rails and enjoy the ride.
Surfing is a part of who I am, and it always will be. This is by no means the end. I’d like to think of this instead as an evolution, the start of the next chapter, a new beginning. The Pipe Pro will be my final event on the Championship Tour. It seems most fitting to finish at home where it all started.
The last few years, it’s been harder to find the motivation to keep competing with the same intensity. I’m an all-in, driven by passion and purpose kind of girl so anything less than is a struggle. For a long time I thought winning was the definition of success. When you win, everyone is happy, everyone loves you, it puts a band aid on any internal struggles. Unfortunately, the reality is, the wins are fleeting and the feelings with it only temporary. I’m not gonna keep doing it for the empty win, there has to be more to it. How many more titles do I really need? Being at the top of my game, the external expectation is to keep going but my heart is telling me it’s time to pivot.
I don’t know how this is all gonna play out. It’s a little nerve racking but also so exciting. I’m a constant work in progress figuring it out as I go. This new swell has been building on the horizon for a while now and I finally have the courage to follow it. I know who I am, what I want and what is meaningful to me. I am multi-dimensional. I am a surfer, but I am also a wife, sister, daughter, friend. I want to keep challenging myself in all areas of my life, explore the joy and most importantly, find ways to share more love. Departing from the tour has definitely been one of the most difficult decisions I’ve made but it also feels completely right.
There will probably be speculation that I’m leaving the tour because I lost the last two world titles on Finals Day. Running away could be the farthest thing from my truth. Am I frustrated that I wasn’t able to rise to the occasion? Yes. Do I wish there were two more big shiny world title trophies on my mantle? Hell yes. But it didn’t happen that way and I am okay. I am proud of how I’ve shown up every year and given my best regardless of the outcome. It’s from these losses that I’ve found my strength and somehow felt the deepest sense of love and support.
It has been an absolutely insane ride, one that has far exceeded any little Riss expectations. Traveling the world, the adventures and experiences on tour have taught me more about life and living than any book ever could. The wins, the shortcomings, the love, joy and even the heartbreak. I’m grateful for every part of it. The people I’ve met, who have become family, that’s been by far the most cherished gift of all.
There are so many people I want to thank. It truly takes a village and none of this would have been possible alone. It’s remarkable what the power of love, people and connection can achieve. I have been a witness to it and been fortunate enough to have it fuel my whole career. To all the coaches, trainers, physios, psychologists, sponsors, videographers, photographers, friends, family, and fans who have followed along my journey and helped me achieve my dreams, thank you. I am forever grateful.
To the league, thank you for giving me a platform to live my passion and in my career, giving women equal pay and opportunity. It’s been a special time to be a part of the sport and the progress. There are more women and girls in the water than ever before, and I smile thinking maybe we were a small part of that. To the women of the tour, you are all shining examples of what it means to be a strong, fearless female in today’s world. I am continually inspired by what you do and how you do it. Quality women are hard to come by and I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by so many on tour.
I fell in love with surfing from that first wave with my dad in Waikiki. It felt like flying across water and I became instantly addicted to that sense of freedom and pure joy. Dad, I don’t know if this was all a part of your master plan, but thank you, truly, for everything.
My husband, Luke, I’m so excited for the rest that life has in store for us. There is so much to look forward to, it feels like we are just getting started. If we can slay the Jbay board break and run around multiple years in a row, we can take on anything. Thank you for being a shoulder to sit on and also to cry on. I don’t know what I’d do without you.
I’m learning to trust more in myself, listen to my intuition and lean into my belief. I’ve found that my favorite rides have often come when my heart starts to race a little, there is a tingle of fear, but I paddle over the ledge anyway. This is one of those moments that I can feel the butterflies. The most important lesson surfing has taught me is to commit, paddle hard, let go of the rails and enjoy the ride. Who knows, I might just fly. So that’s exactly what I’m doing.
All my love,