Tuesday, October 6, 2015         


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Moore is where most expected her to be — on top of world

By Ferd Lewis


When the members of Punahou School's class of 2010 listed their post-graduation destinations for the Punahou Bulletin, there was the usual sprinkling of Ivy League schools — Harvard, Princeton, Yale, etc.

And, then, there was Carissa Moore's entry: "surf and travel."

Of course, folks from Kewalo to Rio de Janeiro have for years known that when it came to surfing ability, Moore was in a league — and soon to be world — of her own.

At Biarritz, France, on Friday, Moore didn't even have to be atop her board to stand astride the world, clinching the Association of Surfing Professionals World Championship while on the beach prior to the finals.

She became, at age 18, the youngest surfer — female or male — to earn a pro world championship and the first woman from Hawaii in 30 years to win a world title, milestones accomplished as soon as her closest points competitor, Australia's Sally Fitzgibbons, was eliminated in the semifinals of the Roxy Pro Biarritz.

Coming off an ASP rookie of the year award and third-place finish in 2010, Moore was expected to ascend quickly. She hasn't disappointed, making the finals in all six events this year (a record) and winning three (she finished second at Biarritz).

"Ever since Carissa was little, everybody knew she would probably be a world champion; she was that good that early," recalls Kauai's Margo Oberg, whose 1981 championship was the last won by a woman from Hawaii. "I'm stoked for her, for Hawaii."

Kelly Slater, who won the first of 10 men's world titles in 1992 at age 20, had been the youngest previous world pro surf champion.

It was a distinction that has been living on borrowed time almost since Moore was introduced to the sport at age 4 and began opening eyes, stirring imaginations and inviting comparisons with Slater, her idol.

Moore had even listed the goal of becoming No. 1 on her door back home, aiming for the day when she could cross it off and take possession of the silver cup symbolic of the world title.

"Potential" seemed to be her middle name since she upset world champ Layne Beachley in the 2008 Reef Hawaiian Pro, and few doubted the eventuality of it being realized. That and a genuinely engaging personality were enough for sponsors to sign up — and ante up upwards of an estimated $500,000 — to go along for the ride.

"I've been thinking about this since I was a little girl," Moore said on the website of sponsor Red Bull. "Just to be here right now and being world champ is pretty crazy."

But definitely earned. "Carissa certainly deserves this — she has fantastic style with strength when she surfs," said Megan Kono, a 17-year-old Hawaii Baptist Academy senior, who also surfs Kewalos.

But as dynamic a surfer as Moore is, there has also been a refreshing humility about her. "Carissa is friendly, approachable, humble, and has good surf etiquette — she shares waves," Kono said.

And, then, at all corners of the globe, she dominates them.

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@staradvertiser.com.

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