Moore by Ryan Miller

An overdue four

This is a story from the latest issue of SW on sale now. 

Carissa Moore wears her current mood on her face. When things are going swimmingly, she radiates… and for her that’s most waking hours. She is pro surfing’s sweetheart after all. But when the clouds gather and she finds herself in trouble she can’t hide the distress. She’d be a terrible poker player… if of course she subscribed to the vice of gambling.

One of the lasting memories of Carissa’s season was late in the final at Jeffreys Bay. Up against Lakey Peterson, who’d shadow her for the rest of the year, she’d already surfed a semi-final that day and now found herself straight back out there, on a building swell, surfing into the teeth of a stiff offshore wind. This was suddenly hard work. Her first two waves hadn’t linked up. She’d pulled into the barrel on her third but hadn’t come out. Finally she’d finished one “on the bricks” but now found herself half-a-mile down the point. She opted to come in and run back around. The sand at J-Bay has the consistency of quicksand, and Carissa was struggling as she ran back up to the keyhole. Her face said it all. She was gassed. Hurting bad. Carissa is used to winning on God-given talent, but man, this was hard work. It was also the turning point of her season. She hung on to win, her first of the season. It took her to number one in the world, a position she held going into the final day of the season at Honolua.

Moore by Ryan Miller

That morning she fell on her very first wave and there it was… the same grimace she’d worn on her face at Jeffreys Bay. She was trailing in a must-win heat. The last day of the season could go spectacularly wrong in any number of ways for her, and she had Lakey Peterson breathing down her neck. Carissa will never have to worry about the surfing chops, but self-belief is another thing altogether. For just a minute there she looked gone. Not as much on the scoreboard, as written on her face. It took just one wave for the universe to correct. Carissa found one that horseshoed through the inside, one of those waves that allows you a turn, then invites a better one, then eventually just says, “Righto, what you got?” And just like that Carissa, a competitive creature comprised of equal parts self-doubt and self-belief never looked like losing. Two hours later she was world champion.

It’s nothing less than she deserves. All things being equal, on tour talent alone she probably should probably have a few more. Carissa is deadly across a broad swathe of tour events. Backhand, forehand, good waves and bad. Hawaii or not. Steph’s talent is a little more ephemeral. She picks and chooses when she wants to leave us breathless and looking for a dictionary. Carissa delivers… or at least should deliver. This fourth title might have been overdue but it was a blessing nonetheless.