She may be a red-hot 17-year-old rookie, but when it’s all said and done, Carissa Moore won’t be defined by her cutback. She drilled that point home on Thursday after winning the second ASP tour event of her young surfing career.
While accepting her trophy, Moore donated her entire $15,000 earnings to the local Waitara Bar Boardriders Club, a place where more than 180 kids hang out in a safe environment and are groomed in all things ocean related. The club, which is staffed by an small army of volunteers, does wonders for keeping those kids out of trouble.
The gift is a ringing endorsement to those volunteers who’ve spent countless hours renovating the once condemned building into a safe and comfortable hangout. It also speaks volumes to the job they’re doing with the kids, who Moore fell in love with during her brief stay in New Zealand.
“The Haka that the Waitara Bar Boardriders Club performed before the event was beautiful and they’ve really opened up their community and waves to us,” she said, explaining her gesture. “For this, I am very thankful.”
Moore actually lives up to the role model standard. An accomplishment that’s all the more impressive considering her surfing prowess placed her under microscope of media and marketing machines at the age of 12. Yet even today, as one of the most well-known surfers in the sport, she maintains the same sweet and disarming personality she had as a sixth grader There’s zero trace of entitlement in the way she walks, talks or carries herself.
And that’s no accident.
Years ago I spoke to her father Chris Moore about what the biggest struggles were in raising an athletic prodigy of sorts. He quickly put his daughter’s talents in perspective by listing the only two things he cared about: Carissa having fun with her surfing and doing well in school. He was serious, too.
“I’m trying to raise a good human being,” he said. “Not a good surfer.”
Discussing the road ahead of her that day, he knew the gap between the two was often significant. And in the years since, Carissa’s inner circle has done a stellar job of keeping those wanting a piece of her at arms length. Granted, their protective instincts haven’t always gone over well with the media, marketing directors or even coaches, but there’s no denying it’s paid off.
Carissa is already one of the top ranked women in the world, and she’s not even due to graduate from Punahou High School (President Obama’s alma mater) until this June.
Today Carissa Moore knows as well as anyone how fortunate she is to be surfing for a living. She has a deep understanding of the circumstances that helped pave the way for her rise, and clearly, she’ll do whatever she can to help others get the same.
Needless to say, pro surfing could use a few more like Moore.
Carissa Moore with the kids of New Zealand’s Waitara Bar Boardriders Club. Photo: ASP/Kirstin