Stab Magazine | A Father's Journey To Raising World Champion Carissa Moore



A Father’s Journey To Raising World Champion Carissa Moore

“Nobody knows how fucking good she’s going to be.”

style // Jul 26, 2017
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Tucked into a booth at Auntie Pasto’s in Honolulu, Chris Moore, emphatic that his daughter was a world beater, leaned across the table and said, “Nobody knows how fucking good she’s going to be.” At the time, she was only 12 years old. She’d just managed a couple upset heats wins at Haleiwa and this meeting was the first time a surf mag had paid her any mind. Serving as an editor at Surfer magazine, I was to meet young upstart Carissa Moore and interview her.

A lot’s happened since then, and most of it has been well documented. Two and a half years ago, with two world titles already to her credit, I sat down with Carissa and Chris to once again talk story. By now everyone knew how “fucking good” Carissa was and Chris had the itch to write a book. He wanted to get his story down on paper. Not so much Carissa’s journey, but the story of a single father trying to raise one of the best female surfers in the world. 

“I want to be honest,” he said. “I want people to be able to learn from not only the things I got right, but also the things I got wrong. It wasn’t like there was some master plan, nobody tells you how to do all this.”

In a flat in Coolangatta, Chris and I decided to write a book together. Originally it was going to be all about Carissa’s upbringing, but from the onset, I’d asked him to keep journal entries from each tour stop. The Moores’ plan for the season was for Chris to join his daughter at most of the events, serving as both coach and handler. I wanted to try and capture his insights and frame of mind as it was happening and weave them together with anecdotes from her childhood that he’d already roughed out.

As the season wore on it became clear Carissa was on a trajectory to win her third world title. So, I made Chris write more. A plot emerged. Themes evolved. By the time Carissa was hoisting the world title trophy after her banner performance at Honolua Bay we felt really good about the story we had in hand.

After a year of editing, rewriting sessions, a few arguments, a few pats on the back and a million emails and phone calls, when it was done we decided to self-publish on Amazon. We wanted to retain control of the story. We had offers from publishers, but they all wanted to tell the story their way. What Chris produced is a clear and unfiltered story about life on tour, the trials and tribulations of having a daughter who’s a surf star and the sacrifices required to be the best.  

Obviously, I’m biased, but I think the book, titled “First Priority,” is an honest and up close look at what it means to be the dad of a surf star. From my experience, it’s easy to be critical of highly visible parents like Chris, or Alex “Mom John” Florence, or Dino Andino, that they’re just “soccer parents” or “little league dads,” but the fact of the business is that there are no manuals when it comes to raising a world champ. All of these parents have simply tried to do their best, support their kids and help them realize a dream. Carissa, John and Kolohe have both helped redefine surfing in the 21st century, so they must have been doing something right. The surf world can be a rough and tumble place, and when Carissa was a kid it wasn’t exactly female friendly. Chris had to serve as a protector as much as he did a guide.

In “First Priority,” Chris is able to recognize his foibles (such as barking at his daughter to go ahead and quit surfing while they’re in the middle of Foodland), as well as celebrate the times he does get it right (like when he gets her into a men’s QS contest and she scores a perfect 10). When Carissa was young she was beating John John and Brother. Her impact on women’s surfing today is profound. A three-time world champ with plenty of gas left in the tank, who knows what the future may hold in store, but thanks to Chris we know exactly how she got here. 

If you’d like a copy, head here



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