By her own lofty career standards, Carissa Moore's 2016 season was nowhere near her best. After averaging four wins per year in her three previous seasons, she earned just one victory in 2016 and fell to No. 3 on the Jeep Leaderboard as a result.
Coming so closely on the heels of her third World Title, the losses were tough to take. But adversity begets growth, and Moore did a lot of growing last year. In fact, she made her biggest leap yet -- getting engaged to longtime boyfriend, Luke Untermann. And Moore's relationship with surfing, fans and her leading man have all evolved recently. On the eve of the Roxy Pro waiting period, we caught up with her:
WSL: You've been to the top several times already. At this point in your career where does the motivation come from?
Carissa Moore: Gosh, I spent a lot of last year trying to figure that out. I mean, as far as progression, there's still so much room for improvement. The guys are showing us what's possible and it's really motivating.
The women's field is as competitive as ever this year. Does that drive you?
You can easily look at it and be really intimidated, but I'm really excited about the idea that every heat you have to bring it. If you don't, you're going down. Every girl is going to bring their A-game, and that's going to bring the best out of me. That's good. That's exciting.
What did you learn about yourself last year?
It used to take me a couple days to get over a loss. When the year started I was still that way. But that's something I had to work on. And I got better. I mean, I'd still cry for a couple hours, but then I'd remember I'm still doing something I love. And when you want something too much it tends to elude you.
They say there's three big thresholds to a career: survival, success and significance. You're always giving back. Is the significance thing a driving force for you?
Oh my gosh, 100 percent. It was really interesting. I was at home the past couple of months and I just got done talking to 3700 people at my high school. It was so nerve-racking but fulfilling at the same time. Those are the moments where I go, "This is why I do what I do." To be able to have a platform to help other people with what they're going through. That's what I love. When you do something bigger than yourself all the pressure and all the other stuff disappears because you're more than just surfing, or a surfer.
When did that lesson resonate with you?
I think it was during my rookie year. I'd lost a couple events in a row and my dad convinced me to step away a bit and reconnect with who I was. We were in New Zealand, and we went down to this local surf club and I ended up really bonding with the girls there, just helping them out. The next thing I knew, I won. I donated my prize money to the club because I knew they could use it. When I find ways to make my heart feel good it makes the journey worthwhile.
It's funny, because when you were about 12 years old your dad told me he wasn't trying to raise a good surfer, just a good human.
Thank you. Y'know, I wouldn't be here today without my dad. And I'm super stoked he's here with me now. It's so funny, because we're in this weird transition right now. He's trying to ween himself -- take a step back from the role he's been playing my whole life. It's a challenge because it's all happening at a time where I'm getting married and that changes the role of who the number one man in my life is. It's different. It's really different.
Yesterday was funny, because we got into it. I was having this horrible session warming up at Snapper and he decided to paddle out. And I was just laughing because he cares so much. It was cute. He wants to be there and he wants to help me, but at the same time I'm like, "Dad, I'm growing up. You can stay on the beach." (Laughs.)
But we've come so far in the way that we communicate, and I'm really proud of that. Today we went for a walk and we talked it out and ultimately I'm so happy he still wants to do this with me and still be a part of it.
That's pretty funny. And you two already live in a bit of a fishbowl.
(Laughs) I know! It is funny. From the outside looking in he's been misunderstood in a lot of circumstances, but he really comes from this loving place and it's pretty cool, he actually just finished [writing] a book. I don't know if he put it up on Amazon yet, but I'm really really proud of him.
What's it called?
It's called First Priority. It's about our journey.
Have you read it?
Yeah. I just finished reading it a couple days ago, and I was like, "Yeah Dad!" It's super cool. He actually wrote it the year I won the World Title in 2015 and he included some flashbacks. I'm really proud of it.
We'll be sure to have a look.
Great. I'm excited to see how it does.