Why the first female Olympic gold medalist and pro-surfer is a role model in and out of the ocean.
By Marc Graser Photos by Zak Noyle In collaboration with Bentley Motors.
In partnership with Bentley Motors, meet five inspirational women — interior designer Breegan Jane, Olympic surfer Carissa Moore, wine expert Vanessa Price, Shaka Tea founder Isabella Hughes and business incubator Meli James — all passionate thought leaders in their communities who define success and what modern luxury means today through their inherent curiosity and appreciation for detail.
The secret to success for many people is being able to do what they love and pursue their passion. That can be a luxury for some. For Carissa Moore, it’s a way of life.
The five-time world champion and first female gold medal winner for surfing at the Summer Olympics, has become a role model for many, not just for her achievements in the ocean, but for her ability to accomplish what she sets out to do with an infectious level of humility.
Whether you surf or not, there are lessons to be learned from a professional athlete like Moore.
Success requires focus. “You have to be in the moment,” she says. That means no phones, no meetings, no distractions.
“The best feeling I get from surfing is being at peace, which has me addicted and coming back for more,” she says. “There’s nothing that I do that quite brings me back to the present as when I’m in the ocean. And it kind of feels like the rest of the world disappears and time slows down. It’s a very spiritual, mindful practice for me.”
“The best feeling I get from surfing is being at peace, which has me addicted and coming back for more. There’s nothing that I do that quite brings me back to the present as when I’m in the ocean.”
DON’T BE AFRAID
Anyone new to surfing shouldn’t be afraid to fail, Moore says, “because there’s a lot of failure involved in any journey. It’s honestly those moments that are going to shape you and help you learn and get better. Embrace those falls, because when you end up riding that wave all the way to the beach, it’ll end up feeling that much sweeter.”
Moore’s popularity was already growing in Hawaii before the Olympics. She started surfing at age 5. “It was all thanks to my dad,” Moore says. “He pushed me into my first wave at Waikiki Beach. I just love spending time with him and getting in the water, and feeling the sun on my skin and the salt water and playing in the sand. It was our time together.”
Moore competed in her first surfing events at 11. At age 16, in 2008, she became the youngest champion at a Triple Crown of Surfing event when she won the Reef Hawaiian Pro. At 18, she became the youngest person — male or female — to win a surfing world title.
But 2021 was a banner year for her, winning a fifth world championship just before making history at the Olympics in Tokyo.
She’s now a hometown hero who has been the subject of documentaries like Peter Hamblin’s captivating “RISS,” for Red Bull, and positioned alongside Duke Kahanamoku — the father of surfing in Hawaii, where surfing began — in a massive mural on the side of a building in Honolulu. Words like “legendary” are being put in front of her name.
HONORED ROLE MODEL
“The mural in Honolulu is something that is extremely flattering, very overwhelming at times,” Moore says. “But I’m so honored to be painted alongside one of my heroes, and by one of the most incredible artists, Kamea Hadar. It definitely carries a weight to it, and every time I pass it I’m like, ‘Holy cow.’ But if it can serve as inspiration and bring joy to people, I think it’s wonderful and I’m very, very grateful.”
Winning a gold medal wasn’t necessarily a goal of Moore’s. Surfing wasn’t an official Olympic sport until the Tokyo games.
“It’s not something that I felt that I needed going into it, but afterwards, looking back, it represents so much more than this thing that I can wear around my neck,” Moore says.
“Winning the gold medal was definitely life changing in many ways. It represents my whole journey. It takes a village to make something like that happen, and so I am very grateful for that moment in time that not only taught me a lot about myself, but where I come from and my history, my ancestry, where surfing comes from. It’s not just about me; it’s about all the people that have come before, to make this happen.”
Moore embraces the ability to serve as a role model for young girls, who look up to her and her successes in and out of the water.
She started a nonprofit, Moore Aloha, in 2018. It literally means “more love,” and “it’s about sharing that love and positivity and good vibrations, with the next generation, and inspiring young girls to be authentic, be fearless, embrace everything that they’re about,” Moore says.
The mural in Honolulu is something that is extremely flattering, very overwhelming at times. But I’m so honored to be painted alongside one of my heroes, and by one of the most incredible artists, Kamea Hadar. It definitely carries a weight to it, and every time I pass it I’m like, ‘Holy cow.’ But if it can serve as inspiration and bring joy to people, I think it’s wonderful and I’m very, very grateful.”
For her own role models, Moore is inspired by people “who are genuinely, authentically 100% unapologetically themselves and aren’t afraid to wear their heart on their sleeve or be vulnerable, because I think in vulnerability comes a lot of courage,” she says. “People that take the time for others and make you feel good about yourself and inspire you to want to be the best version of yourself.”
More recently, she’s been drawn to women like Serena Williams, Torah Bright, Allyson Felix and Bethany Hamilton, who are able to balance their professional careers at the same time as being a mother, “because for a really long time in my head I’ve always thought, ‘oh, you can’t do both,’” Moore says, “and it’s really empowering to see these women just totally own it.”
At 30, Moore isn’t ready to store her board anytime soon.
“So far in my life, I’ve kind of put all my eggs in one basket and I’ve been hyper focused on my career,” she says, “but I am very passionate and driven about giving back.”
It’s all about sharing the aloha spirit, inspiring the next generation of females to really embrace their power and be the best versions of themselves,” Moore says. “By connecting to each other and building that community, we are stronger together and really can be a force of positivity in the world.”
Aloha is a code to live by when you’re in Hawaii.
“It’s treating others with love and respect, not wanting anything in return when you give, and it’s that unconditional selflessness,” Moore says. “Regardless of the results, win or lose, in or out of a jersey, I just try to try my best to bring that aloha spirit with me when I compete and travel the world.”
With her growing success, Moore is finding herself increasingly surrounded by luxury.
“When I think of luxury, I think of quality,” she says. “I think of top-of-the-line, attention to detail, everything’s taken care of … Luxury as a feeling, is effortless. It’s an extension of yourself where you don’t have to think and it just comes and it flows.
“I think as a surfer, I have a strong connection to the ocean and to the environment, so it’s really important for me to know where and how the products I’m buying and supporting are being made,” Moore adds.
Regardless of the results, win or lose, in or out of a jersey, I just try to try my best to bring that aloha spirit with me when I compete and travel the world.”
If you want to stump a pro like Moore, ask her to describe her perfect wave. It’s like asking a sommelier their favorite wine; an artist their favorite creative work.
“It’s really hard to answer because I don’t really feel like there is a perfect wave,” she says. “And I think that’s what keeps me coming back for more, that search for the perfect wave.”
It’s easier to get Moore to describe her perfect day at the beach, however: “It’s being at home, the sun is shining, there isn’t much wind, the water is cool, there’s waves. I’m there with my friends, my family, and my dogs.”
“I think when you strip back all the layers of why I surf and why I do what I do, it comes down to I love surfing,” Moore says. I love that it brings me so much joy and it’s about sharing that with other people.”
For this interview, we met Moore at Makapuʻu Beach in an Azure blue Bentayga SUV, which comes available as a hybrid model, perfect for mixing serenity and sustainability in the tropics.