Girl On: Megan AbuboMar 29 2007 / Los Angeles, CA
One of the world’s best female surfers dishes on life as a top pro.
She may have been born in Conneticut, but lucky for Megan Abubo she moved to Hawaii by the time she was one and caught her first wave not long after. She first became a name on the pro scene in the late 90s and hasn’t relinquished her top notch spot ever since. Recognized for her power moves, comfort in the barrel and highly competitive personality, she has managed to stay on the top of the pack for ten years and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Lat34 caught up with the Oahu local to find out what it takes to be such a heavy hitter for so many years on the ASP Women’s World Tour.
Lat34: Do you have a fan club that you know of?
Megan Abubo: I know I have a few of them, a few I don't know about too. Haha. It’s all good, it makes the whole thing go round and I think it’s flattering really. (ed. note - be sure to check out her new website at MeganAbubo.com)
MA: As long as it is after a heat I am fine. I like my own head space before heats though. No probs.
Lat34: What was it like growing up in Hawaii? Are the girls tough? The boys?
MA: Growing up in Hawaii with surf culture is like a dream come true. I grew up in Waikiki and everyone was so supportive and understanding. I mostly grew up with boys and they pushed me. They always told me I could do anything. They never told me because I was a girl I couldn't surf or do well. The girls then were older, there weren't many girls my age. I think Hawaii is the best place in the world to be a surfer and women are treated with as much respect as men. I really see the difference when I travel to other countries.
Lat34: What's your earliest memory of surfing?
MA: When I was nine, my summer fun program had a day of surfing with the Aikau family which was really incredible. I also remember using a BZ sponge body board and it was great. The first real surfboard I used was my best friend’s dad's single fin lightning bolt board, it was classic. I surfed baby queens and then stepped up to queens.
Lat34: When did you first know you wanted to be a pro surfer?
MA: When I saw Lisa Andersen on MTV sports and saw that she made a living and traveled the world. I wanted that life so bad. I think I was about 13 or 14. Now I’m lucky enough to be living my dream.
Lat34: What was the surf scene like when you were a kid and how has it changed?
MA: Back then it was very male oriented. As a girl, I was always trying to do what the boys did, be like them and hang with them. Now it is this whole other female surf culture, it is amazing. Girls grow up and only watch girls, they wear women's boardies, have pink leashes, and look up to female surfers and that's it. It’s so cool to see how things have changed and progressed.
Lat34: Who did you grow up looking up to?
MA: Rell Sunn was my biggest surfing inspiration. Her style grace, and aloha attitude she took around the world was a huge impact on me and my surfing life. Lisa Andersen was my biggest talent inspiration. I always thought it was amazing how aggressive and yet how graceful she was. She made women's surfing what it is today. [Ed note: Rell Sunn was one of the most respected female Hawaiian waterwomen. She die of cancer in 1998 but left a legacy for women surfers today.]
Lat34: Did you have any female surf heroes or was it all guys?
MA: I looked up to a few guys like Tom Curren and Kelly Slater, of course Sunny Garcia. Every Hawaiian looked up to Sunny. But my female heroes were Pauline Menczer, Jodie Cooper, Lisa Andersen, and Frieda Zamba.
MA: With all of the amazing places you have surfed in the world, where was the coolest place and why?
MA: I love France, the south-western beaches. I like the culture, the food, the surf when it's on. I love the laid back lifestyle and attitudes. And of course I love the wine.
Lat34: A few years back you did a shoot with Rolling Stone right? How was that and was it trippy to think that you were just a girl from Hawaii not so long ago and now you are an internationally known athlete?
MA: Yep I was pretty scared to do that shoot because it was so risqué and I never really thought of myself that way. But the photographer was amazing and made me feel really comfortable. I was on an all time high that year. I had just missed the world title and then I got to do that. I felt good, I felt fortunate and knew women's surfing was breaking through because of all the mainstream exposure.
Lat34: Does anything about surfing scare you?
MA: Blue Bottles because I am allergic, sharks, getting run over by another surfer. Hitting my head, that’s never fun.
Lat34: Worst wipe out ever...where and when?
MA: Pulling into a ten foot barrel on the inside bowl at Sunset. I hyper extended my knee, broke my board and got held under for two waves in a row, and hit the bottom. Lisa was my caddie, and she had to give me a new board and swim in. All that for points, but it was great.
Lat34: What does it feel like for you to get barreled? How do you feel and what do you hear when you are inside a wave?
MA: It is like being inside of a big tunnel and all you can hear is hollowness all around you. It is empowering to be in a barrel. Sometimes you can't see though. It is funny, every barrel is different.
Lat34: You have been with Roxy a long time and they have done a lot for surf girls, how do you feel about the Roxy image and what's it like being part of it?
MA: I think women's surfing is where it is because of Roxy. They started an entire movement of strong, beautiful, happy female surfers. They have given so much back professionally to our sport also. From giving Lisa the platform to grow and excel to sponsoring the first women’s surf contest in Fiji, which was huge for us. They have also touched many girls who are the average female surfer.
Lat34: If you could be any other kind of athlete what would you be?
MA: Olympic 100 meter sprinter.
Lat34: What are five things you HAVE TO HAVE when traveling?
MA: iPod, eye pillow, comfortable shoes, book, toothbrush.
Lat34: What's the best and worst parts of being on the tour?
MA: Not having enough space or alone time is a bummer. Sometimes if you travel with people it is hard to find your own space. Sitting on an airplane and carrying your board bags all over the place. Bad waves. The good things are seeing the world, experiencing different cultures, meeting new people. Playing for a living!!!!!
Lat34: What are the girls like on the tour?
MA: It depends on what tour you’re talking about. The ASP Women's World Tour is 17 of the most competitive, driven, and focused girls I have ever known. The WQS is a bit more of a mix. Some of the girls are there to surf, some to party, some to travel. Much more laid back than our tour. What’s cool is that we’re all friends though. When you spend so much time traveling together, growing up together really, you become like sisters almost.
Lat34: How many more years do you see yourself on the road?
MA: Who knows, I can say maybe two more max, but then I know I would miss it. I am getting tired though! Maybe if I stay in one place long enough I can meet the man of my dreams because I am definitely not meeting him living on an airplane. Haha.
Megan is sponsored by: Roxy, Boost Mobile, HIC, Sticky Bumps and Vans.