All Photos: Damea Dorsey
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades and shitty stories that you need to exaggerate into mediocrity. Carissa Moore came close to winning the 2015 Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, but it was not that time you almost caught a fish with your bare hands and so it does not count.
Courtney Conlogue did win the event and it counts. She won it fair, square and deservedly. She won it with laybacks that the judging panel couldn’t help but chuck points at. She is amazing. But she is not my favorite female surfer.
Carissa Moore is and it’s not even close. Margaret River provided an interesting challenge to the WSL’s Women’s WCT: do big turns on big waves. The conditions demanded power surfing, but not in that Bells Beach kind of way — more like Sunset. Oversized walls, lots of speed to deal with, the kind of waves on which bottom turns laster longer than one second, the kind of surfing that can feel like a game of cat and mouse. Thing is, Carissa Moore seemed to be the furtherest on the feline side of things.
While I gladly recognize and support the progression of women’s surfing, I’m not going to ignore the level differential between the boys and girls. It was on full display at Margaret River. Girls were getting 9s for waves that would have hardly scraped the 4s on the masculine end of the draw. (Note to judges: Adjust your scale. It’s called tough love and it works.) Still, the women are improving faster than ever and the sport is lightyears ahead of where it used to be. In other words, they’re making a push and it’s really fun to watch.
Especially thanks to girls like Carissa. She clawed the waves at Main Break where most would simply try and get by. She attacked instead of survived. She surfed in a way that almost made you forget she was a girl. And maybe that does count for something. —Brendan Buckley