Lakey Peterson is 18-years-old, one of the world's top-ranked surfers, California for life and is really, really rad. We sat down with Lakey last week at Hurley HQ in Costa Mesa and talked about everything from her personal idols, to being an idol to girls everywhere. Oh, and we also recorded it and wrote it down for you, so click 'Full Story' and get to know Lakey Peterson.
So tell us about when you first started surfing…
I first learned to surf when I was five years old in Manly Beach, Australia. I learned at a local surf school there, but when we came back from the trip, I didn't pick it up right away… I didn't do any contests or anything. I just played a bunch of other sports. I entered the NSSA contest when I was 11, and then when I was 12, it was like, full-force, this is what I want to do for sure.
What inspired you to keep surfing?
When I started [surfing] more and more at 11 and 12, it was just something that came really naturally for me. I had played tons of other sports, tried everything else, but surfing made me feel different than all the other sports ever made me feel; I loved how happy I was. It was kind of an escape… you don't have your phone, you don't' have anything with you. You're just out there. I just really loved that feeling.
You started skateboarding before surfing, did you start to get that happy feeling with skating too?
Yeah, I think surfing and skating are so similar. I think that with skating I could definitely see it start to help my surfing because it all has such an action sports vibe; I'd go surf with my friends and we'd skate, then go surf again. It tied into the lifestyle of it all, and was a big thing for my surfing and how it progressed.
How did you get after surfing professionally, and do you have advice for any girls trying to do the same?
For me, I was just doing local contests around Santa Barbara and Ventura. I signed up for NSSA all up the coast, then Westerns then Nationals… if that goes well, you go to Junior Pros. It's just a stepping stool of contests and you start progressing. If you live in California, NSSA is the best place to start, especially if you're young. Then as you get a bit older you go to Junior Pros.
Speaking of professional surfing, what is it like to be a woman in a primarily male-driven industry?
It's interesting. I'm very social, but at the same time I'm kinda removed from a lot of the industry; I'm not, you know, the popular one in the crowd. I think it's fun, I've always played sports that are male dominated. When I was young I was the pitcher on the boys baseball team, I played football, so I've always kinda been in that environment. So it's not too different for me. I think it's a good thing because it pushes you to be as good as [the guys] are; we're not close now, but it makes us want to be better. It's really healthy.
You're a prominent figure in women's surfing, to the point where you've become a role model. What's that like?
You post a photo, and a lot more people see it than if I were just a typical high schooler. I try to be a good role model and I try to be cautious of what I think is appropriate to post and say, but it's really cool. It's a really neat position to be in, because a lot of people don't have this opportunity. For me, I just try to help other people, inspire other people, and not just throw the opportunity away.
We see you helping people a lot with your water programs…
It's really cool with the position I'm in to be able to do philanthropic work and give back, especially with this water stuff. I've installed a few different wells and clean water systems. It's a good feeling to give back and do something bigger than myself and surfing. It's really fun.
What are some of your personal and professional goals for 2013?
I mean, professionally in surfing, every girl's goal is the same: win the world title. So obviously that's my end goal. But this year I want to focus on being more progressive in contests; I feel like I can be progressive outside of contests, but when I get in a contest I don't do the things I would do free surfing. I would like to have that translate to my contest surfing a little more. That's something I've learned from being on tour… I learn so much on tour it's crazy!
If you could pick one location to have on the women's tour, where would it be?
If I could pick one location it would be Lower Trestles, because I think it's a wave that really showcases people's performance surfing. For girls on tour right now, that's the exact wave we need to prove ourselves to the world and to people watching. If you see us surfing on bad waves. you're obviously not gonna see us surfing to our fullest potential; but at a wave like Lowers, it gives you the opportunity where everyone can surf their best; it's gonna showcase women's surfing in a more positive way…. and it's just so much fun.
Who do you look up to?
You know who I really look up to as a person is Steph Gilmore; athletically too, she's an amazing athlete obviously, but she just carries herself very well and everyone loves her. There's not a person who says they don't like Steph.
Besides traveling, what has been the biggest adjustment of being on tour?
Since I'm not in high school and I haven't been to school since 7th grade (I'm home schooled), it's been really hard for me to grow close friendships. If you're in high school or whatever you have your volleyball team or water polo team. Something I've had to figure out is how to continue building friendships and relationships back home because you're gone so much [on tour].
When you're back home and you're not surfing, what are you doing?
I am either getting my nails done [laughs], getting my eyebrows done, getting my lashes done… I play tennis a lot, I'll go golf a lot if someone's up to it. I'll go hang out with my friends, especially my girlfriends that I never get to see. We'll go shopping, go have fun, get coffee…
So your new movie, Zero to 100 is coming out. What message do you want people to take away from it?
I think that people right now are too worried about such little things, and we don't realize how much we have in this world. That's something I've realized doing stuff with water, mission trips, whatever, that we have so much, and a lot of people don't realize that. Making people happy with what they have, regardless of where they are and just looking at life with a different perspective - that would be a cool message.
What was your favorite part about the movie making process?
I didn't really do much! I just surfed and there was a guy filming me, but the credits are the best part. Haha… it's really cool; it's weird to have a movie made just about you; it's really weird that people will watch JUST Lakey for 50 minutes. But it's special; something I have to look back on for the rest of my life and show my kids one day. I never knew how much goes into making a film until now. It was a fun experience and I learned a LOT.
Lakey's movie, Zero to 100, comes out on iTunes April 28th, get psyched with this teaser until then.