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4 out of 6 QS wins, plus a Bells trials W in hand. Another rookie upset perhaps? Photo by WSL

Alyssa Spencer Can’t Lose

Best surfer on the QS earns her way into Bells…and beyond?

news // Apr 10, 2022
Words by Coral McDuffee
Reading Time: 5 minutes

If you’ve been following the QS beat, the name Alyssa Spencer has more than likely popped up on your radar in the last year. Alyssa, who’s 19, has clinched a victory for 4 of 6 North American QS events she surfed in this season. She got third place in the other two.  

Even after missing a 3,000 event (the highest-rated comp on the North American QS) in Barbados this past week, she still managed to win the season over Caity Simmers, who earned a CT spot in 2021 but turned it down to work on personal projects.  

Alyssa’s reason for missing Barbados? She’d been invited to compete in the Rip Curl trials for a wildcard spot into the Bells CT. Surprise, surprise — she won that too. 

Alyssa will see you here. Tomorrow maybe. Photo by WSL

This will technically be Alyssa’s second swing at a CT event, her first being at Kelly Slater’s wavepool back in 2021 — an event unlike any other on tour for a multitude of reasons (the “waves”, the atmosphere, the event format, etc.). Nonetheless, Alyssa placed ninth — middle of the pack. 

Something tells us she could go a step further this week. 

Bells generally isn’t kind to goofyfooters, especially on the female side. The last (and only) goof to win at Bells was Frieda Zamba back in the mid-80s — roughly 30 years before Alyssa was born. 

Modern-day goof Tatiana Weston-Webb made the Bells final back in 2018, so there is hope. Especially when you hear what CT coach and Stab CUSP co-host Stace Galbraith has to say about his newest disciple. 

“With Caroline taking some time off, I think Alyssa might have the most efficient backhand of any woman on tour. She mightn’t have the power of a Tati, but the amount of space she uses on a wave is incredible.”

Stace is coaching Alyssa this week, so you can take what he says with a grain of salt, but anyone who’s seen Alyssa surf knows he’s not blowing smoke. 

So, where did America’s next great competitive hope come from?

Simply put, Alyssa is the lovechild of Seaside and Swamis — the same place as the current male rookie of the year, Jake Marshall.

“I fell in love with competing early on,” Alyssa said. “A highlight of my younger days was competing in the push-in division with my dad. It always felt good to beat the boys. Somewhere I have a photo of Jett Schilling, Kade Matson, and myself on the podium. I’m still proud of that win.”

This isn’t the photo btw. Jett and Kade look different. Photo by WSL

Alyssa stayed in the local contest scene and by her early teens and was a seasoned competitor. Her composure was of a tour vet in an amateur surf arena. Her wave choice was always calculated, and surfing technically polished. 

“Back then, I spent almost every weekend competing. I would surf in three local contests leagues and across as many divisions as I possibly could. My dad never pushed me to do that — I just wanted as much time in the jersey as possible.”

As a self-proclaimed contest junkie and the sweetheart of every local surf league, Alyssa’s natural progression was to hit the Qualifying Series.

Her initial debut was impressive, she missed qualification only by a few spots

A couple more years to develop without CT stress can be a good thing. Photo by WSL

“2019 was the first year I decided to try a couple QS events. I ended up two or three on the rankings for a part of the year. Things started to materialize, but then I fell short of qualification. At the time, I was bummed. But looking back I think it was a blessing in disguise. I don’t think I was ready for a tour.”

The next year, the pandemic cut the season in half. The brief hiatus gave Alyssa a chance to reflect and work on her surfing. The emergence of new women’s CT events (Pipe, Sunset, Chopes) turned her focus towards bigger surf. For a SoCal native, nothing helps like a few trips down south. 

“In the past two years I’ve probably gone down to Pascuales eight times,” Alyssa said. “The first couple trips I struggled. A mental block was stopping me from charging. But with each trip I chipped away at it until I could break through. Now I feel like I’m in a place where start packing barrels without hesitation.” 

As the world returned to normal, a newly-confident Alyssa kicked off with her first QS victory at the WRV Outer Banks Pro. It was the first event the girls had surfed in awhile. The final came down Alyssa and long-time sparring partner, Kirra Pinkerton. 

“That final was extra special with Kirra. We’ve had a long (10 plus years) rivalry. She is probably the person that has pushed me the most as a competitor and surfer.”

The early win seemed to foreshadow success for the rest of the season. 

Backside hook on a Bells-looking lip. Photo by WSL

“Before the event I traveled to the Outer Banks alone without my coach or parents. Proving to myself that I could win alone gave me the confidence to build on for the rest of the season.” 

With that golden headspace, she claimed three more victories over the next few months. Now she’s got a high seed going into the 2022 Challenger Series, where she hopes to finally secure herself a spot on the CT.

But first things first, she’s got a Bell to contend for. 

“I’m in a good place. Fun is the winning formula for me,” Alyssa said. “I love Bells and am more pumped to surf, compete, and train than I have ever been.” 

The comp starts tomorrow (most likely). You can tune in to watch Alyssa surf in women’s Round 1 heat 3 against 5x World Champ Carissa Moore and Tour sophomore Issy Nichols. 

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