Keala Kennelly Interview


You’ve been a mainstay in women’s professional surfing for a long time and have undoubtedly seen a lot of change over your career. What’s your take on where women’s professional surfing currently is?

Everything in life has peaks and valleys. I enjoyed a big peak in women’s surfing in the era of Blue Crush and the Women’s proper “Dream Tour.” Presently, there a handful of women on the Tour that are making more money than any women have ever made in surfing history, but women’s professional surfing as a whole has been back-sliding for a few years now. You can pinpoint the start of the descent to 2008 when Teahupoo and Tavarua permanently disappeared from the Women’s World Tour schedule.

It seems like there’s a lot of talent right now on the women’s side, but on a competitive level, it feels like the sport is waning. Would you agree?

I absolutely agree. The talent level has never been higher, but the interest in the Women’s Tour is at an all time low. The only obvious reason I can see for this is that the Women’s “Dream Tour” no longer exists. The Women’s Tour has become the “Small-Wave Beach Break Tour,” and even though the women are surfing amazingly well, watching them have to grovel in every event is just not exciting to watch. The women don’t have a single event on Tour that is held at a challenging wave. There is a reason the most-watched Men’s event webcasts are Pipeline and Teahupoo—because you are putting the best surfers in the world in the best and most challenging waves in the world. (Those are the only events I ever really watch).

Here is a really simple mathematic formula for a successful Tour:
Good surfers + Bad waves = boring
Bad surfers + Epic waves = (some good wipeouts) but still boring
Good surfers + Epic waves = Exciting


3 years ago

Excellent read. Keala knows what's going on, in addition to being one of the heaviest women surfers out there. I hope she sees her Dream Tour dream become reality. As she notes, good surfers in weak waves is boring - the women's tour need to get back to Pipe, Tav, etc.

3 years ago

Thanks for this Chrispy - as Paddleout said, it's an excellent read.

3 years ago

Are you calling her fat?

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