Hand me a gold-brocade jacket and baton, and I will lead the parade in honor of Carissa Moore. She is my female surfing ideal. On three or four different levels. Nick Lowe wrote a song lyric about “filling rooms with the sweet smell of success,” and Moore does that. (I don’t know this with total certainty, having never been in a room with her, but I’ll bet my pension that anything and everything wafting off Carissa—her spirit, her essence, her pheromones, her chi—is of the sweetest quality.) There is also steeliness. Her Barbie-contoured WCT challengers, with their precious Top 16 Maxim ranking and their slightly wobbly 36”-inseam legs, drop like wheat before the scythe of Moore’s powerful yet finely placed turns, generated by that taut, athletic, strong frame, which, yes, has a visible horizontal axis. She is a one-woman corrective to the way woman’s surfing is now sold and marketed. Can surfing and sexy meet, mingle, cavort? Yes! Will Moore spend too much time and energy and worry forcing the two together? Thank God, no.
Because she is the master of 100 acres of well-looked-after raw talent, because she has the lowest neurosis-to-skill ratio in all of professional surfing, because she is as nice as she is powerful, Carissa is The Best.
But my gushing praise has a limit. Or rather, it has a memory. I will cheer and applaud and throw my humble adjectives like petals at Carissa Moore’s lovely feet as she glides off toward manifest future achievements. I will then remember that there is always a Best. And the Best, throughout the years, is often—almost always, in fact—presented in such a way as to obscure, shadow, even erase, those who came before.
Don’t worry. Professor Warshaw will not be holding forth in order to make the point. I offer instead a small quiz. Match each surfer, below, to the quote that was written about her. Good luck!
1) “She has already been acclaimed as the great woman surfer of all time. A truly amazing performer, and to think that she is only 18 years old!”
2) “She’s the best woman surfer in the world. She turns her board as radically as 98-percent of the male surfing contingent.”
3) “She’s the best there is. No other girl even compares.”
4) “She is the first woman to surf in a truly modern, aggressive way—and the first true female surfing star.”
5) “Her fresh approach has opened minds to the unlimited possibilities than women can achieve; she has set a new standard for women surfers.”
6) “I’m not comparing her to other females. I’m comparing her to the top 5 male surfers. She rips like the best males.”
7) “She is both weightless and powerful, [and] has the rare ability to make even the most mediocre wave look good. She has changed the face of women’s surfing.”