Women’s surfing has improved dramatically over the last ten years. The current batch of women are, without question, bringing the highest calibre of surfing ever seen. The standard is so high that even the most sexist of guys has had to grudgingly accept that they can surf very, very, well.
Stephanie Gilmore has been leading the charge for a long time, and is still taking women’s surfing further than it’s ever been. Her performances in the last couple of events has produced some of the crispest, best looking turns I have ever seen. The thing is, she’s had to lift her game. With women like Carissa Moore, Sally Fitzgibbons, and Tyler Wright at every event, surfing like she did two years ago isn’t enough.
Having said this, one aspect that has become so important in contest surfing has stalled. Actually, its been pretty much non-existent on the women’s side of the tour: aerial maneuvers.
Silvana Lima was the first to take on the aerial arena with good results. She posted two runner-up finishes on the ASP World Tour. Sadly, a serious knee injury wreaked havoc on her 2013 year, and she was eliminated from the tour. She’s currently trying to re-qualify, and hopefully she succeeds. The women’s tour lacks the Brazilian presence so apparent in the men’s.
In the absence of Lima, women’s surfing has been waiting for someone to lead the charge in the air department – and it looks like she’s arrived. Lakey Peterson is doing things above the lip no one else on the women’s tour is doing.
In the last two events, Lakey has shown an ability to do things no one else on the tour is doing. Her confidence to do airs in heats shows that she trusts herself to make these moves frequently. She also pulls these tricks off with style and grace.
So what makes Lakey different?
1. She grew up skating. This has been proven to be a big advantage in the air. Just look at JJF and Julian Wilson. Skating allows for repetition and getting used to controlling yourself while in the air.
2. She started surfing comparatively late. While most of the other girls on tour were in the water from an early age, Lakey didn’t pick it up until she was 12. Perhaps this was an advantage, as it made time for skating and other sports. In other words, it helped her be more well rounded and get influences from other sports.
3. She’s incredibly fit. All the top women are, but she is blessed with having a body that is naturally toned. The extra strength this provides is hugely beneficial for both going for airs and landing them.
She understands that landing one-off big maneuverers can instantly change a heat. It’s what she wants to do, and if not plagued by injury, she’ll do it.
At this point, Lakey is the future of surfing. She still hasn’t quite figured out how to turn her natural talent into a winning formula, but when you watch her surf, you know it’s just a matter of time.