In the early morning hours of March 14th, 2015, I sat in a mid-sized sedan and shared an hour-long ride from Coolangatta to Brisbane International Airport with Carissa Moore.
She’d just won the 2015 Roxy Pro Gold Coast. I’d been in town journalisming the shit out the Quik/Roxy Pro. We were both headed back to California — me to return to my everyday life, her to watch her hunk of a boyfriend compete in a Ninja Warrior competition in Santa Monica — and we crossed paths in a Hyundai through a mutual connection, because the ‘CT world is smaller than you’d think. Outside of hellos and how are yous, it was the first time we’d really spent together.
For the length of the drive, Carissa was as sweet as she seems interviews. The way she spoke and the the way she seemed to view the world made it feel like her heart were just too big for her chest and that it crept up through her neck and had taken control over her cerebral cortex. There was genuine compassion in her presence. The type you find in a good nurse.
But she wasn’t just in post-heat with Rosy Hodge mode the whole drive. There was also a sense of rawness in the things she said. We spoke about the level of progression in women’s surfing, what it was like to have Mick Fanning start a chant of your name at the Rainbow Bay Surf Club (it overlooks Snapper Rocks), what it’s like to pour a beer on your head at Rainbow Bay Surf Club because Mick Fanning started a chant of your name and you didn’t want to drink it, music in general and all things in between. All of it raw. All of it compassionate. It became apparent that she was a very special person.
At some point during the conversation, she talked about how well all the women are surfing these days. There was an overtone of disbelief to it all — like it was hard for her to fathom the level at which they were competing, like it’d be hard to ever win. Nine events, and three additional event wins later, I think it’s pretty safe to say that she shouldn’t have seemed so perplexed.
Carissa will probably get on a flight back to Oahu tomorrow morning, if she hasn’t already done so tonight. And whoever takes her should be ready for a good, honest conversation. I just hope they don’t ask her about 50 Shades Of Grey. —Brendan Buckley