Lakey Peterson, No. 6 on the Association of Surfing Professionals World Championship Tour, returns to Lower Trestles to compete in the Swatch Women’s Pro. It’s the first time Peterson has competed at the break since winning a national junior title there in 2009.
By Andrea Papagianis
Lakey Peterson was catapulted into the national spotlight with a junior title win at Trestles in 2009.
At just 14, the underdog competitor took the field of female surfers by storm with a first-ever women’s aerial maneuver in competition that ultimately landed her the NSSA Open Women’s Title. She’s spent the last five years perfecting those moves, taking her surfing, and propelling the competition, to a new level.
Now, sitting at No. 6 in the ASP Top 17, Lakey returns to Lower Trestles, home of the break that sent her on an upward trajectory in the surfing community, alongside surf’s toughest female contenders as the women’s World Championship Tour hits the iconic locale for the first time.
“It is such a progressive wave and it gives the women an opportunity to really showcase the level that we surf at now.”–Lakey Peterson
“I am so excited to be back at Lowers,” Peterson said. “It is such a progressive wave and it gives the women an opportunity to really showcase the level that we surf at now.”
The ASP women’s World Championship Tour added three new destinations to the 2014 lineup that has seen the Top 17 surf famous breaks from Australia to Fiji with stops in France, Portugal Brazil and California along the way, as they push the envelope to further develop the sport.
“All the girls will be ripping … it’s going to be a fun one to be a part of and also to watch,” Peterson said.
In her third year on the WCT, Peterson revisits the site of her first big win—a returning home, rounding the bases or coming full circle of sorts in her short, but powerful, professional surfing career.
The daughter of a national swimming champion and a Santa Barbara native, Peterson spent her life around the ocean and water. She excelled on the tennis court and picked up surfing as a hobby after a trip to Manley Beach, Australia. But her sights remained on tennis, on becoming a pro.
That all changed one winter.
“By the time I hit 11 we had an amazing winter of waves and I think I finally got the full experience of what it is like to surf a good wave,” Peterson recalled. “After that I stopped tennis and turned everything to surfing. It was the best decision I ever made.”
The young surfer entered contests and her skills excelled rapidly. Within three years, Peterson topped the NSSA competition, taking home the open women’s title, in a year that saw San Clemente native, and now ASP Top 34 competitor, Kolohe Andino take the national men’s open title. She defended her title in 2010 and by 16 was vying for a wildcard entry in the U.S. Open of Surfing—a contest she won in 2012 during her rookie year on the World Championship Tour.
In 2013, the documentary film Zero to 100 chronicling Peterson’s journey from novice to professional was released, quickly rising to a No. 1 spot on iTunes, like its heroine had risen within the surf world.
“No other female had really done a project quite like this before and I felt like I was letting the whole world into my life pretty deeply,” Peterson said. “I wasn’t sure … what the reaction was going to be, but it’s been so fun looking back on it now and seeing the positive response to it all. It made me realize that the story, and the way it was told, had the ability to resonate with quite a diverse audience.”
“I felt like I was letting the whole world into my life pretty deeply.”–Lakey Peterson
Peterson wanted a film with a positive message: Get up and go do what you love.
It is a motto that she herself has lived by and something she puts into practice every day, both in and out of the water. Surfing has taken Peterson around the globe providing her the opportunity to give back.
Throughout the tour, Peterson worked with Hands4Others to bring clean water to an entire island in Indonesia and with Waves for Water in Brazil to deliver water-filtration systems to villages and towns without a source of clean, fresh water. She’s also become a spokesperson for the Student Conservation Association, working to empower young people to help out and give back to their community.
“It’s hard to really understand the impact this has on lives until you are standing with them in their homes and villages looking at the dirty water they have drunk for years and what it means to finally have clean water—it’s life saving,” Peterson said. “Something so simple yet so needed.”
As Peterson faces off against Bianca Buitendag and Johanne Defay in round one of the Swatch Women’s Pro Trestles this week, she’ll continue to spread the positive word right in her own backyard.
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